University News

Commencement keynote by Pulitzer Prize winner Connie Schultz

Commencement Provost's Office
March 1, 2022

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz will deliver the keynote address at Denison University’s 181st Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 14. At the ceremony, Schultz also will be recognized with the conferring of an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for USA Today and author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Daughters of Erietown. She also is a professional in residence at Kent State University’s School of Media & Journalism, where she teaches opinion writing, feature writing, and ethics.

“We honor Connie Schultz as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and educator, whose career has been dedicated to capturing the voices of people who are not being heard and exploring the issues that shape the communities we live in,” says Denison President Adam Weinberg. “I have long admired Connie for the quality of her journalism and her commitment to civic discourse. She exemplifies how liberal arts attributes of critical thinking, intellectual humility, and strong communication skills can make a positive difference in the world.”

Schultz was a reporter and columnist at The Plain Dealer for nearly 20 years, from 1993 to 2011, after working for a decade as a freelance writer. She was a nationally syndicated columnist from 2007 until 2021, when she joined USA Today.

In 2005, Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for columns that judges praised for providing “a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged.” That year she also won the Scripps Howard and National Headliner journalism awards for commentary. She has received six honorary degrees and has served twice as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

Schultz is a familiar figure at Denison, where students have learned from her writing expertise as the Nan Nowik Writer-in-Residence, a program established through the generosity of Denison Alumni Council Trustee Kathryn Correia ‘79 and Stephen Correia, as well as the Andrew W. Mellon Storyteller-in-Residence, funded through a combination of a grant from the Mellon Foundation and a gift from Denison alumna Sue Douthit O’Donnell ‘67.

In 2003, Schultz was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing for her series, The Burden of Innocence, which chronicled the ordeal of Michael Green, who was imprisoned for 13 years for a rape he did not commit. A week after publication, the real rapist turned himself in after reading her series. Schultz won several awards for this work, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting and the Batten Medal.

Schultz has been featured for her work in numerous publications and interviews, including The New Yorker, NPR, Politico, Kirkus Reviews Magazine, Glamour, Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, and Ohio Magazine. Her book reviews appear regularly in The Washington Post, and she has also written for The New York Times, Politico, Parade, The Atlantic, Time, The Nation, Glamour, Democracy Journal, and ESPN Magazine, among others.

In addition to The Daughters of Erietown, Schultz is the author of a collection of essays, Life Happens – And Other Unavoidable Truths, and a memoir about her husband Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 race for the U.S. Senate, …and His Lovely Wife. She has contributed to several anthologies, including The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s A More Perfect Union, and more recently wrote the foreword to the 2020 anthology, Midland: Reports from Flyover Country, edited by Michael Croley and Jack Shuler. Her first children’s book, Lola Trains the Trolls, will be published by Razorbill Books in Summer 2023. She is currently working on her next novel.

Back to top