Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2002, will be the commencement speaker at Colby College in Maine on May 23, President William D. Adams announced. Russo served on the Colby faculty from 1991 through 1996 and returned to Colby this year to teach creative writing.

Russo was born and raised in upstate New York and earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. He taught at Arizona State, Penn State-Altoona, Southern Connecticut State University and Southern Illinois University before coming to Colby in 1991 as a professor of English and creative writing. A serious writer of fiction beginning in graduate school, Russo has published five novels (Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody’s Fool, Straight Man and Empire Falls) and a collection of short stories (The Whore’s Child and Other Stories). Empire Falls won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2002. Two of his novels have been made into feature films, as was Twilight, a screenplay.

Russo lives in Camden, Maine, with his wife, Barbara. They have two daughters, Kate, a member of Colby’s Class of 2004, and Emily.

At Colby’s commencement honorary degrees will be presented to Russo; Shelby M.C. Davis, philanthropist and founder of Davis Selected Advisers, L.P.; Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the first African-American to serve as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Barry Mazur, university professor at Harvard and a mathematician who specializes in number theory and algebraic geometry; and Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock and a Presidential Medal honoree.

The public is invited to commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. on May 23 on the lawn of Miller Library. Visitors should bring their own chairs. For more information on commencement visit the Colby commencement Web Site at