Poet Pinsky to Salute 9,500 UW Graduates

U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky

U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. Photo ©2000 Sigrid Estrada.

U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will be the main speaker at the 125th University of Washington Commencement ceremonies starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10 in Husky Stadium.

This is the third year the UW will hold its graduation ceremonies outdoors in the stadium rather than inside Hec Edmundson Pavilion. While the weather can be unpredictable, the stadium holds up to 74,000. Last year about 35,000 graduates and their families attended.

The UW graduates more than 9,000 students during the academic year. As enrollment grows and the graduation rate rises, even more will be getting their degrees in the coming years. Last fall saw one of the largest freshman classes in UW history—4,515 students—and the six-year graduation rate is now at 72 percent. In 1995 about 67 percent of all UW undergraduates got their degrees in six years.

Those attending this year's ceremonies will hear the only U.S. poet laureate ever to be appointed to three consecutive one-year terms. Pinsky's main undertaking as poet laureate is the "Favorite Poem Project," in which he selects a broad cross section of Americans reading aloud their favorite poems, as part of the Library of Congress bicentennial. Pinsky presented 200 video and 1,000 audio tapes of these readings to the library in April.

Pinsky, 60, teaches at Boston University. His book The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1965-1995 was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His collection of essays Poetry and the World was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. He is also poetry editor of the on-line journal Slate and a contributor to "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

UW Tacoma ceremonies will be held 3:30 p.m., Friday, June 9, in the Tacoma Dome. UW Bothell will hold commencement at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. The speaker will be H. Mason Sizemore, '85, president and chief operating officer of the Seattle Times.

Graduates from all three campuses are eligible for free membership in the UW Alumni Association. Visit the UWAA Web Site or call 1-800-AUW-ALUM.

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