Fairfield University's convocation features Pulitzer Prize-winning author


Image: Ron SuskindRon Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of A hope in the Unseen: An American odyssey from the inner city to the Ivy league, will be the speaker at Fairfield University's sixth annual fall convocation on Friday, Sept. 15, at 11:30 a.m., in Alumni Hall. Suskind, the senior national affairs writer for the "Wall Street Journal" in Washington, D. C., currently on sabbatical, will speak on issues of diversity in American society following the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola at 10:15 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

Since joining the Journal in 1990, Suskind has written about issues of race, class and gender for the paper's front page. His series about inner city honor students and their struggles to survive won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1995. Launched by that series, his book, A Hope in the Unseen, follows the three-year path of one such honor student - the prickly and religious Cedric Jennings - as he attempts to escape from the ghetto and pursue a degree at Brown University. Suskind's book chronicles Cedric's experiences from his junior year in high school through his first year at Brown.

Praised by "The New York Times" as "an extraordinary, formula-shattering book" and the "Washington Post" as "a tremendous empathetic leap," A Hope in the Unseen is prompting national discussions about affirmative action, the role of faith in American life, advancement through higher education and how bridges might be built across the divides of race and income. Beyond the book's social and political import, many readers respond simply to its unique emotional force. It has been distributed to all Fairfield University first-year students as well as faculty and will be discussed in classes during the fall term. In addition, the author has agreed to meet with students to discuss the book and answer questions.

In the past year Suskind has appeared on numerous television shows including: the "Oprah Winfrey Show," ABC's "Nightline" and "Good Morning America," and has traveled extensively, speaking at universities and conferences. His stirring performances, written about by newspapers across the country, combine "the best of inspiration and edification," said Gerald Murphy, dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Education, where Suskind addressed students and faculty in 1998. "I've rarely seen a writer of this caliber who can speak so well," Dean Murphy continued. "In both the written and the spoken word, Ron offers stories that truly change people's lives."

Suskind was formerly on the staff of "The New York Times," the "St. Petersburg Times" and was editor of "Boston Business" magazine. He has been a commentator on National Public Radio, taught advanced journalism at Harvard University and written about various subjects for national magazines - including satire for "Harpers" and political analysis for "The New York Times' Magazine." A graduate of the University of Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Suskind lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two young sons.

A university-wide picnic at Alumni Field will follow the convocation. Classes for periods three, four and five will be canceled so that students may attend Mass, the convocation and the picnic. For more information, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2778.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 20, 2000

Vol. 33, No. 22