Best-selling author, social critic Anna Quindlen to deliver Commencement address May 19

Anna Quindlen headshot

Anna Quindlen, a best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and social critic, will give the 2017 Commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Wrighton made the announcement to the Class of 2017 during the annual senior class toast April 4 in the Danforth University Center.

The university’s 156th Commencement ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 19, in Brookings Quadrangle on the Danforth Campus.

During the ceremony, Quindlen also will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

She will address approximately 3,000 members of the Class of 2017 and their friends and family members.

“As a journalist, social critic, memoirist and novelist, Anna Quindlen has made a life of pointing out the foibles and the strengths of American life, and I am looking forward to her message to our graduating class,” Wrighton said.

“As a writer, she is concerned with many of the same issues and ideals that drive us as a university, including education, health care and social justice, and the trajectory of her exemplary career is a model and inspiration for today’s graduates looking to find their place in the world,” Wrighton said.

About Anna Quindlen

Millions of readers have followed Quindlen’s astute perspectives on today’s issues, from family, work and education to health care, philanthropy and social justice.

With the publication of her nonfiction book “A Short Guide to A Happy Life,” which sold over a million copies,  Quindlen became the first writer to have books appear on the fiction, nonfiction and self-help New York Times best-sellers lists.

Her memoir on aging, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list in 2012.

She is also the author of eight novels, all best-sellers: “Object Lessons,” “One True Thing,” “Black and Blue,” “Blessings,” “Rise and Shine,” “Every Last One,” “Still Life With Bread Crumbs,” and, most recently, “Miller’s Valley.”

In a New York Times Book Review, author Caroline Leavitt referred to “Miller’s Valley” as “overwhelmingly moving.”

“Quindlen makes her characters so richly alive, so believable, that it’s impossible not to feel every doubt and dream they harbor, or share every tragedy that befalls them,” Leavitt wrote.

A native of Philadelphia, Quindlen began her career at 18 as a copy girl. After graduating from Barnard College in 1974, she spent three years as a reporter for The New York Post.

She went to The New York Times in 1977 as a general assignment reporter. She went on to write the “About New York” column, serve as deputy metropolitan editor, and create the weekly column “Life in the 30’s.”

In 1990, Quindlen became only the third woman in The New York Times’ history to write for its influential op-ed page when she began the nationally syndicated column “Public and Private.” In 1992, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the column.

A collection of those columns, “Thinking Out Loud,” was published by Random House in 1993 and was on The New York Times best-sellers list for more than three months.

Quindlen, who is also the author of two children’s books, left the paper in 1995 to devote herself to her work as a novelist.

From 2000 to 2009, she wrote the “Last Word” column for Newsweek magazine. Those columns were collected in “Loud and Clear.

Among her many honors and distinctions, Quindlen was selected one of “the 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years” by the faculty and an honorary committee of alumni of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

Elected a fellow of the Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1996, Quindlen holds honorary degrees from more than 20 colleges and universities.

Quindlen served on Barnard College’s Board of Trustees for more than two decades, including seven years as chair from 2003 to 2010. Now chair emerita, she received the college’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 1994. In 2014, Barnard established the Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence position in her honor.

The Child Welfare League of America has established The Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism on Behalf of Children and Families.

She serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.