Kate Moses

Kate Moses speaks to University of the Pacific graduates at the 2016 Commencement ceremony

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Writer Kate Moses to deliver 2016 commencement address

Nov 20, 2015

Download the full text of Kate Moses' speech

Acclaimed author Kate Moses '84, a founding editor of Salon, will be the featured speaker at University of the Pacific's 159th Commencement Ceremony on May 14.

"With her writer's eye, Kate encapsulates what makes Pacific special: the strong connection between faculty and students, the heartfelt investment faculty make in their students, the difference this university can make in a life," said President Pamela A. Eibeck. "It will be a tremendous opportunity for our graduates to be able to reflect on their Pacific experiences through hers."

A seventh-generation native of San Francisco, Moses graduated in 1984 with honors from College of the Pacific, the university's liberal arts and sciences college. She majored in English with concentrations in women's studies and art history. In 2010, she was inducted as an alumna into the Pacific chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

"I'm truly moved and honored to be asked to return to my alma mater to speak to the Class of 2016 at their commencement," Moses said, noting that "alma mater" is Latin for "bounteous mother."


Watch Kate Moses' Commencement Speech

"That term is so fitting for how I feel about my years at Pacific three decades after my own graduation," she said. "Like any mother, Pacific had dreams for me, and it encouraged me to follow mine. I credit Pacific and my remarkable, generous professors for not just giving me a solid educational foundation for my life beyond them, but for inspiring me, truly, to believe in my own potential, and to strive for the dream that we shared for my future. That is the bounteous gift I received from University of the Pacific, and I look forward to being a small part of the gift this new class of graduates will take into their own futures."

As a senior undergraduate, Moses was hired as a teaching assistant by the chair of the English department, the late Professor Arlen Hansen, to teach introductory courses in poetry and American literature. After graduation Moses became an editor of fiction, poetry and nonfiction at Berkeley's legendary North Point Press, where she worked with notable authors including Kay Boyle, M. F. K. Fisher, Evan S. Connell Jr., Carole Maso and James Salter.

She was promoted five times in four years, rising in the ranks to become North Point's senior acquisitions editor. In 1991 Moses was named the literary director of Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest literary arts center, where she organized a reading and residency series featuring writers including Denis Johnson, Walter Mosley, Andrei Codrescu, Elena Poniatowska and Patricia Smith.

As a founding senior editor and contributing writer for the groundbreaking website Salon from 1997-2001, Moses coedited the popular, pioneering daily feature "Mothers Who Think" and worked with writers including Jayne Anne Phillips, Lydia Davis, Chitra Divakaruni, Joanna Scott, Peter Matthiessen, Susan Straight, Janet Fitch, Ana Castillo  and Mariane Pearl. Her own writing for Salon garnered "Best of the Web" citations from Brill's Content for three consecutive years, and two of her Salon cover stories were cited as "Best Stories of the Year" by the website.

Her internationally acclaimed book, "Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath," has been published in 15 languages and earned her the 2003 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for fiction by an American woman and 2005 Prix des Lectrices de Elle for best first novel published in France.

She is also the author of "Cakewalk, a Memoir," chosen by NPR as one of their favorite memoirs of the year and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Moses is coeditor of two bestselling anthologies of essays on motherhood: the American Book Award-winning "Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood" and "Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves," both anthologies the offspring of the Salon feature.

In 2012 she was awarded a two-year Lannan Literary Fellowship in fiction. Among her other awards are fellowships from the Djerassi Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Lilly Library at Indiana University, and selection by Barnes & Noble for their "Discover Great New Writers" program. She was an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts, 1995-1997.

Moses received an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, where she received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Academic Excellence for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.

She has been a visiting writer at numerous colleges and universities and is now an assistant professor in the Writing Arts Program, Department of English, at the State University of New York Plattsburgh, where she teaches creative writing and literature and serves as the coeditor of the university's literary journal, Saranac Review. She lives in Essex, New York. 

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