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College Commencement

Commencement Speaker 2019

March 04, 2019

  • Semple

777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232

To the Class of 2019,

We are excited to announce that this year’s commencement speaker will be Maria Semple, a bestselling author, writer for television and film, and a Primetime Emmy nominee.

Maria Semple is the author of the novels Today Will Be Different (2016), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) and This One is Mine (2008), all published by Little, Brown and Co. Before writing fiction, she wrote for the TV shows 90210, Mad About You, Arrested Development and others.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, an international bestseller, has been translated into 30 languages. It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and made over a dozen year-end best lists. It was short-listed for the Women’s Prize and received the Alex Award from the American Library Association. A film version, starring Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig and Billy Crudup, is scheduled to be released in August 2019. Richard Linklater writes and directs. Today Will Be Different was an instant international bestseller and was featured on the cover of the New York Times book review. It, too, made over a dozen year-end best lists. It’s currently in development with Annapurna pictures as a limited TV series with Ms. Semple writing and executive producing.

Ms. Semple loves to teach. She’s taught her popular writing workshop at Hugo House and the Cloud Room in Seattle, the Aspen Writers Conference, and Wordstock in Portland.

Ms. Semple spent her early years traveling around Europe with her bohemian parents, but that ended abruptly when her father, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., finished a pilot for Batman while living in Torremolinos, Spain. He airmailed it in, they shot it, and the family moved to LA. Ms. Semple attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary and college at Barnard, where she majored in English. She moved to LA shortly after graduating Barnard and wrote screenplays which never got made, and TV shows which did. In 2008 Ms. Semple, George Meyer and their daughter moved to Seattle just because. It was a difficult adjustment for Ms. Semple, which became the basis for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The novel came out in 2012 and became an instant bestseller.

Many thanks to Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs and Professor of Mathematics, John Krussel, for chairing the commencement speaker committee! We look forward to hearing Ms. Semple speak at this year’s commencement on Saturday, May 11th at 2pm at the Oregon Convention Center.

Bruce Suttmeier
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

For more information:

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