Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will deliver the undergraduate Class of 2018 Commencement speech.
Award-winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts Jr. will deliver the Commencement address to the University of Hartford’s undergraduate Class of 2018 on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Pitts, who will receive an honorary doctor of letters during the ceremony, writes a popular nationally syndicated column for the Miami Herald. He won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004 and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Newspaper Columnist in 2003 and 2009. He is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.
Pitts was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in English at the age of 19 after entering college at age 15 through a special honors program. In addition to writing, Pitts has been a professor, radio producer, and lecturer. He has taught at Hampton University, Ohio University, the University of Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth University, and The George Washington University. He has also been a visiting professor at Princeton University, where he taught a course on writing about race.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Pitts wrote an open letter to the terrorists titled "We'll Go Forward From This Moment." Reader response was strong. It circulated the globe via the Internet, and generated more than 30,000 emails in response. It was set to music, reprinted in poster form, read on television, and quoted in the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.
In 2008, Pitts wrote a series of columns titled “I am a Man” to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also writes a series called “What Works?” about programs across the country that show results in improving the lives of black children.
Robert H. (Bob) Forrester ’66, Hon.’17, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation and executive chairman of Newman’s Own, Inc., will deliver the address at the graduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, on the West Hartford campus. He was a close, personal friend and philanthropic advisor to actor Paul Newman, who founded the company and foundation.
Prior to Newman’s Own, Forrester was founder, chairman, and CEO of Payne, Forrester & Associates, LLC, an international consulting group providing services to nonprofits. He also has served in senior management positions at the University of Hartford and New York University. Throughout his career, he has worked with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He also serves on numerous boards.
Forrester holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hartford’s College of Arts and Sciences and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2017. He also was a captain in the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam.