FARMINGTON — Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer Richard Ford will deliver the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree at the University of Maine at Farmington’s 2014 commencement ceremony.

The graduation ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 17, on the UMF campus.

Acclaimed by the New York Times as “one of his generation’s most eloquent voices,” Ford is the author of 11 works of fiction. Notable among those is “Independence Day,” winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award — the first novel to win both awards in a single year.

Most recently, Ford’s New York Times best-selling novel, “Canada,” won the top French literary award, the prestigious French Prix Femina Etranger. It was also awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was part of several best-books-of-the-year lists.

Ford’s work has been translated into 25 languages, and he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and many newspapers around the world. His short fiction has often appeared in the The New Yorker and is widely anthologized.

Born in Jackson, Miss., in 1944, he is the Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University in New York. He lives with his wife, Kristina, in East Boothbay.

“We are excited and honored that such a distinguished author as Richard Ford will be joining us as we commemorate this historic year’s graduation,” UMF president Kathryn A. Foster said in a statement. “This year’s commencement marks not only a milestone in UMF’s 150-year history, but also in each and every graduate’s educational success. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Graduating Naples senior Sean Skillern will give the student address. An elementary education major, Skillern is vice president of the senior class and recently received the Michael Winston Award for significant contributions to the college and the community. He serves as the president of the local Rotaract organization, a community service club for young adults. Skillern traveled to Guatemala last fall with other students and Rotary members to volunteer at Safe Passage. After graduation, he hopes to teach in New England or South or Central America.

The outdoor ceremony will be held behind the Olsen Student Center and is free and open to the public. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place inside the Fitness & Recreation Center.


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