Jodi Picoult to Speak at UNH Winter Commencement Jan. 14; Picoult, Picard, Dilenschneider to Receive Honorary Degrees
Jan. 9, 2011
WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of 18 novels, will be the keynote speaker at the University of New Haven’s Winter Commencement on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Picoult, West Haven Mayor John Picard and public relations guru Robert L. Dilenschneider will receive honorary doctorate degrees. The ceremony will take place at the David A. Beckerman Recreation Center on the UNH Main Campus in West Haven at 2 p.m.
The January graduating class includes 129 students receiving bachelor’s degrees and 321 students receiving master’s degrees.
Picoult is the author of 18 novels, many of which reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Her works include “The Pact,” “Plain Truth,” “The Tenth Circle,” and “Salem Falls,” which were made into television movies, and “My Sister’s Keeper,” which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz.
More than 14 million copies of her books are in print worldwide; she is published in 40 languages and in 42 countries.
Picoult’s works often spark discussions on family and societal issues. Her most recent novel, Sing You Home, explores the issues of gay rights and evangelical Christianity.
In her 2010 novel House Rules, Jacob, the central character who is afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome, idolizes University of New Haven professor Henry C. Lee, referring to him as “the most famous forensic scientist ever.”
Picoult also wrote five issues of the “Wonder Woman” comic book series for DC Comics, and has won numerous awards including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction.
In addition, she is the co-founder and director of the Trumbull Hall Troupe, a teen theater group in New Hampshire that performs original musicals she has co-written. The group raises money for charities in the U.S. and abroad.
A resident of Hanover, N.H., she graduated from Princeton University and earned a master’s degree from Harvard University.
UNH has a long tradition of honoring writers at commencement, including Robert Penn Warren, John Hersey, David Halberstam, Adriana Trigiani, who is currently a UNH Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, and David Baldacci, who spoke at the 2011 spring commencement.
Picard, a lifelong West Haven resident, earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of New Haven. He has been the mayor of West Haven since 2005. His platform issues include lowering West Haven’s property tax burden, fostering economic development, improving the city’s educational system and preserving its shoreline.
Picard previously served on the West Haven City Council, of which he was chairman for two years. He also served as chairman of the West Haven Water Pollution Control Commission and has held an elected position with the West Haven Democratic Town Committee. Prior to becoming mayor, Picard was a financial advisor with American Express Financial Advisors.
Picard is an active community leader and volunteer. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Order of Sons of Italy, the Italian American Club, and serves on the board of directors of the West Haven Chamber of Commerce.
Dilenschneider founded The Dilenschneider Group, a corporate strategic consulting and public relations firm based in New York, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, in 1991. The Group provides its clients access to some of the leading communications professionals in the world, with experience in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions and crisis communications to marketing, government affairs and international media.
Dilenschneider has counseled major corporations, professional groups, trade associations and educational institutions, and has assisted clients in dealings with regulatory agencies, labor unions and consumer groups.
Prior to forming his own firm, Dilenschneider served for five years as president and chief executive officer of Hill and Knowlton, Inc.
He began his public relations career in 1967 in New York City, shortly after receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Dilenschneider is the author of eight books, including the “Power and Influence: Mastering the Art of Persuasion,” and “Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life.”The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and University College, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.