Commencement SpeakerGAMBIER, Ohio (May 1, 2005) Noted American writer David Foster Wallace will present the Commencement address at Kenyon College's one hundred seventy-seventh graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21.
The Commencement program will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the lawn of Samuel Mather Hall. (The rainsite is the Ernst Center.) In addition to presenting diplomas to graduating seniors, the College will confer honorary degrees on Wallace; on Robert Farris Thompson, Colonel John Trumbull Professor of the History of Art at Yale University; and on Paul Goldberger, dean of the Parsons School of Design and one of the country's leading writers on architecture. Honorary degrees will also be conferred upon retiring faculty members Camilla Cai, the James D. and Cornelia W. Ireland Professor of Music; Harlene Marley, professor of drama; and Roy T. Wortman, Distinguished Professor of History, as well as retiring registrar and associate provost Richard L. Switzer.
The Baccalaureate speaker this year will be Professor of History Reed S. Browning. Browning, who joined the Kenyon faculty in 1967, has taught courses in British, European, and American history. He won the Trustee Teaching Excellence Award in 2001. He has also served the College as provost and acting president. A gifted musician as well as a prolific scholar with wide-ranging interests, Browning has written books about both European history and baseball, including the award-winning Cy Young: A Baseball Life and Baseball's Greatest Season: 1924. The Baccalaureate service will take place on Friday, May 20, at 1:30 p.m.
David Foster Wallace has won wide praise and an enthusiastic following for fiction that plays extravagantly with language and narrative while ranging over all manner of American cultural phenomena. In addition to his novel Infinite Jest (1996), he has published several collections of short stories, as well as essays and a book about mathematics, Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (2003). The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," Wallace is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Arizona. He is the Roy E. Disney '51 Endowed Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College.
Robert Farris Thompson is the author of Black Gods and Kings, African Art in Motion, and Flash of the Spirit. He writes on art and music for Art Forum and has contributed to the Whitney Museum's catalog on Keith Haring. In 1995, he received the United States African Studies Association's Leadership Award of the Art Council for distinguished contribution to scholarship in the field of African and African-American art.
In addition to his academic post, Paul Goldberger serves as the architecture critic for the New Yorker magazine and a contributing writer for Architectural Digest. For twenty-five years, he wrote architecture criticism for the New York Times, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1984. He also served as cultural news editor and chief cultural correspondent for the Times. He is the author of The City Observed: New York; The Skyscraper; On the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Post-Modern World; and Above New York.
Cai is retiring after nineteen years on the faculty. Marley retires after teaching at Kenyon for thirty-six years. Switzer has held administrative positions at Kenyon for twenty-one years. Wortman has been a member of the faculty for thirty-five years.