Joyce Carol Oates to Speak at 169th Commencement

Posted: April 24, 2006

National Book Award winner and best-selling author Joyce Carol Oates will be the speaker at Mount Holyoke's 169th commencement on Sunday, May 28, 2006. Honorary degree recipients will be Kitty Kyriacopoulos, mining entrepreneur and philanthropist and a 1945 Mount Holyoke graduate; Eric Reeves, professor of English language and literature at Smith College and an activist for human rights in Sudan; Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a not-for-profit organization that advocates the teaching of evolution in public schools; and Hilda Chen Apuy Espinoza, a 1944 Mount Holyoke graduate and a Costa Rican-Chinese scholar and intellectual who received Costa Rica's highest cultural award in 2004.

Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific and highly regarded writers of our time, has published to date 50 novels and novellas, 29 short story collections, eight books of poetry, eight drama collections, 11 nonfiction volumes, 17 anthologies, six books for children and young adults, as well as hundreds of uncollected stories, poems, articles, essays, and reviews. She won the National Book Award in 1970 for her novel them, and the PEN/Malamud Award in 1996 for Excellence in Short Fiction. Brilliantly imaginative and erudite, Oates scrutinizes, in work after work, the distinctive and often tumultuous nature of American character, culture, and literary tradition. She is an experimental writer who, as John Barth has commented, "writes all over the aesthetical map," including fictionalized biography, postmodern Gothic novels, and pseudonymous suspense thrillers. Several of her novels, including Bellefleur, Black Water, We Were the Mulvaneys, and Blonde have been national best sellers. In 2003 she received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2005 she was honored with France's Prix Femina Award for The Falls, chosen as best novel by a foreign writer. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

"At this year's Commencement, we will be joined by an outstanding slate of honorary degree recipients, whose careers represent a broad range of achievement and contributions to society," said President Joanne V. Creighton. "Each of them exemplifies Mount Holyoke's ideal of purposeful engagement in the world, whether through letters, entrepreneurship, science, education, or public advocacy. We are proud to honor them and give them the opportunity to share their inspiring stories with the graduating class of 2006."

Kitty KyriacopoulosKitty Kyriacopoulos '45
Kitty Kyriacopoulos translated her liberal arts education into a remarkable career as a leader in the mining industry. As a philanthropist, she has been a powerful advocate for higher education and for Greek culture. In 1999 she was named one of the 50 leading women entrepreneurs by the Star Group and NFWBO, and in 2002 she was invited to join the French Legion of Honor National Order.

Kyriacopoulos took over her family's mining companies Bauxites Parnasse and Silver and Baryte Ores after her father passed away in 1970, leaving her as his only heir. The companies prospered under Kyriacopoulos's leadership, which focused on building a culture based on family ethical values and traditions.

Kyriacopoulos was born in Romania and received her basic education in England and France. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1945 with a concentration in physics and mathematics and did graduate work at Columbia University.

Eric ReevesEric Reeves
Eric Reeves is a professor of English language and literature at Smith College. He has spent the past seven years working full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the U.S. and internationally, and his essays on Sudan have appeared in papers including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. He has testified several times before Congress, has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan, and has raised international awareness about human rights violations in Sudan.

Reeves received his undergraduate degree from Williams College and his Ph.D. in Renaissance literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. He began teaching at Smith in 1979.

Eugenie ScottEugenie Scott
Dr. Eugenie C. Scott is the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a not-for-profit membership organization that works to improve the teaching of evolution and advocates the teaching of evolution in public schools. Scott has served on the board of directors of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and the advisory counsels of several church and state separation organizations and is the author of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction. She has held elective offices in the American Anthropological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been awarded the National Science Board Public Service Award, among other honors.

Scott holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Missouri and has taught at the University of Kentucky and the University of Colorado.

Hilda Chen Apuy EspinozaHilda Chen Apuy Espinoza '44
Hilda Chen Apuy Espinoza is a Costa Rican-Chinese scholar and intellectual. She has been a pioneer in research and the study of Asian cultures and an advocate for education and cultural assimilation in Costa Rica. In 2004 she was named winner of the Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón, the country's highest cultural award. Chen Apuy taught at the University of Costa Rica from 1948 to 1984 and was largely responsible for the introduction of the university's Asian studies program. She taught Sanskrit, philosophy, Oriental thought, and Asian history.

Commencement ceremonies will begin at 10:30 am in Gettell Amphitheater. In the event of rain, the event will be held in Kendall Field House.