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Best-selling novelist, literacy advocate to speak at University of the Pacific’s commencement
Caravan News
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Best-selling novelist, literacy advocate to speak at University of the Pacific’s commencement

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

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.

Patters1on’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.

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