Convocation speaker Dan Barry

This year’s speaker for Freshman First Year Academic Convocation 2012 will be New York Times columnist Dan Barry, author of the summer reading book, Bottom of the 33rd. The novel, a reflection of hope and redemption based on a famed minor-league baseball game which lasted 33 innings, won the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Sports Literary Writing. Barry will discuss the themes in his book to inspire this year’s freshman class on September 13 in Conte Forum.

Barry’s column, This Land, in the New York Times features both obscure and well-known areas of the U.S. as he travels and narrates his experiences. In addition to his regular column, he has contributed many other major stories, including much coverage of September 11 and New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.

Born in Queens in 1958, he grew up near the Long Island Expressway, his narration abilities fostered by his parents’ colorful backgrounds. His mother Noreen was famous for spinning tales out of the smallest chores, while his father Gene was a fervent conspiracy-theorist, out to defend the working class. His writing abilities ripened by his upbringing, he then graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a B.A. in journalism, earning his M.A. from New York University after a brief stint digging ditches and working in Long Island delis. His range of stories have been praised, particularly a series of articles about the Rhode Island court system in 1994 which earned him a Pulitzer Award. One of his stories even incited protestors to burn copies of his stories outside the Providence Journal building in Rhode Island.

His works have inspired praise and honor, aside from the protest in Rhode Island, and students can expect an insightful and stirring start to the year with Barry as the Convocation speaker. He has published two previous novels, as well as his regular columns in the New York Times. Fans of Bottom of the 33rd can visit his website for more information about his books, or read his column.