ARCHIVED: Grace Paley, author and activist to address, 75th Commencement

Award winning author, political activist and beloved Sarah Lawrence College Professor Emeritus Grace Paley, will be the speaker for Sarah Lawrence College’s 75th Commencement on May 21at 10 a.m. One of the most respected writers of the last 40 years, Paley will address the 284 candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree and 152 candidates for Master’s degrees.

A member of the Sarah Lawrence writing faculty from 1966 to 1987, Paley helped develop and define the Sarah Lawrence writing program, and in the process influenced a generation of student writers, including such prominent authors as Allan Gurganus ’72 and Ann Patchett ’85. She received the Edith Wharton Award as the first New York State Author in 1986 and was also awarded a Senior Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1987 in recognition of her lifetime contribution to literature.

Paley began her writing career as a poet but is most recognized for her short stories, which have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and Esquire. Paley’s critically acclaimed collections of short stories include The Little Disturbances of Man, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, Later the Same Day and The Collected Stories. Her collections of poetry include 16 Broadsides, Goldenrod, Leaning Forward: Poems, and Begin Again: Collected Poems.

Beyond her writing and teaching, Paley has exhibited her passion for politics and activism by taking stands in the name of environmental and social justice, feminism, and the anti-war movement. A self-described “combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist” she was one of a group that went to North Vietnam in 1969 to bring back three American POWs.

“It is always a privilege to welcome an eminent, accomplished speaker to Commencement; it is even more of a thrill when that speaker has had such an important role in the history of Sarah Lawrence. I am proud to welcome Grace to address our 75th anniversary graduating class,” said College President Michele Tolela Myers.