Internationally renowned author, literacy advocate and philanthropist James Patterson will be the commencement speaker in May 2017. (Photo by David Burnett)

Internationally renowned author, literacy advocate and philanthropist James Patterson will be the commencement speaker in May 2017. (Photo by David Burnett)

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Pacific News

Bestselling novelist, literacy advocate to speak at Pacific commencement

Class of ’17 includes 4 who received scholarships from James Patterson and wife, Susan
Dec 6, 2016

James Patterson, the internationally renowned author, literacy advocate and philanthropist, will be the commencement speaker for the May 13 graduation ceremony at University of the Pacific.

The Class of 2017 includes four aspiring teachers who were able to attend Pacific in part because of the generosity of Patterson and his wife, Susan, through their Patterson Family Foundation. The foundation has awarded more than $7 million in scholarships for student teachers at 24 colleges across the country. Another six undergraduate and two graduate students are scheduled to graduate with the Class of 2018.

University of the Pacific was the first institution on the West Coast to have student teachers benefit from the program. In 2013, the Patterson family funded scholarships for eight Patterson Scholars in the university's Gladys L. Benerd School of Education, and the following year they committed to funding an additional eight scholarships, for a total of 16. Each student must remain in good standing and continue to meet eligibility criteria to continue as a Patterson Scholar.

Patterson's efforts to encourage student teachers and improve literacy are echoed in Pacific's Beyond Our Gates initiative, which includes Reading by Third, a program convening 50 community groups to help children become effective, passionate readers in order to succeed in school and continue on to college. The effort has resulted in four Community Pacesetter Awards and a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

"Pacific also shares Mr. Patterson's belief in the power of literacy," Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck said. "We know that enhancing education, particularly early literacy, is a foundational way to help the youth of California's Central Valley region fulfill their dreams."

World bestselling author Patterson has donated more than a million books to students, especially to those in some of the neediest schools and youth programs in the country. He has donated $3.5 million to school libraries throughout the United States, $500,000 in holiday bonuses to bookstore employees and $1 million to independent bookstores.

Patterson's first novel, "The Thomas Berryman Number," was published in 1976 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. His 1993 novel, "Along Came a Spider," was the first to feature fictional psychologist Alex Cross and was the author's first New York Times bestseller in fiction. The latest in the Alex Cross series, "Cross the Line," holds the No. 1 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction. Patterson is also the author of bestselling young adult and children's literature, published under his children's imprint, JIMMY Patterson. A film adaption of his young adult novel, "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life," was released in October.

Motivating children to become passionate readers earned Patterson the National Book Foundation's 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.  He also founded ReadKiddoRead.com to spur excitement for reading in children. It has been awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize and the American Library Association's Great Websites for Kids recognition.

From Pacific's Patterson Scholars

"I am so blessed to be here at Pacific and it is because of Mr. Patterson's generous financial contribution to my college education that my dreams are coming true. I can't wait to begin my career as a teacher so I can make a difference in other people's lives as Mr. Patterson has made in mine. I will never forget what he has done for me." - Taylor Dorsey '17

"Mr. Patterson is making a big difference to me and to all of the students who receive his scholarship. It's the gift that keeps on giving, because when we are teachers someday we will be dedicated to our students' success and helping them find their own love of reading. I want to make a difference in the lives of others, and getting a college education with the help of generous people like Mr. Patterson I am one step closer." - Denise Amaya '17

"Literacy is the door to a better world. I plan on using it as the powerful tool that it is to transform the students I come across. Thank you for all that you have done for me and my family." - Alexandra Lopez '16, '17

"A simple thank you is not enough to show my gratitude for the Patterson Scholarship. It has helped me grow as a student and filled me with even more passion to become a teacher and have a classroom of my own someday." - Jennifer Montemayor '17

"I want to become a teacher to help my students be excited about learning and reading. Without this scholarship I would not be able to afford this university and I am grateful for you helping to give me this great opportunity." - Ellen Dettman '17

Media contact: Keith Michaud | kmichaud@pacific.edu | 209.470.3206

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