Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153

Julia Keller to deliver commencement speech at Marshall University

MU alumna won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2005


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller, cultural critic for the Chicago Tribune and a two-time graduate of Marshall University, will deliver the keynote speech at Marshall’s 174th commencement on Saturday, May 7. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.


Keller was born and raised in Huntington, daughter of the late Dr. James R. Keller, a mathematics professor at Marshall, and Patricia Keller, who taught English at Chesapeake High School in Chesapeake, Ohio.


Keller earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Marshall in 1976, and a master’s degree in English from Marshall in 1981. She earned a doctoral degree in English from The Ohio State University in 1996.


In 2005, Keller won the Pulitzer Prize for her three-part series on a 10-second tornado that ripped through Utica, Ill. The Pulitzer Board described Keller’s account of the tornado, which was published in December 2004, as “gripping” and “meticulously constructed.”

“I’m so pleased to be returning to Marshall to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2011,” Keller said. “I grew up in Huntington and my father taught mathematics at Marshall, and my fondest childhood memory is accompanying him to Marshall basketball games, where he kept statistics for the team. To my infinite delight, I was allowed to sit next to him at the press table in Memorial Field House. It made me feel extraordinarily special – just as does the invitation to speak to this year’s Marshall graduates.”


Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp said the university is honored to welcome back a distinguished alumna whose achievements have been recognized at the highest level.


“Julia Keller is a very distinguished and accomplished daughter of Marshall. Her dedication to excellence is clearly evident in her award-winning works. As a symbol of the principles for which Marshall University stands, Julia embodies the pride and determination that is Marshall University,” Kopp said. “She is a gifted communicator, as our graduates will witness during our upcoming commencement ceremony. I look forward to welcoming Julia back to Marshall and to hearing her inspiring message to our graduates.”


Keller was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In 2006, she served as McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton University. She has also taught writing and literature at Ohio State, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dominican University.


For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197