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2010 Baccalaureate Speaker: Mitch Albom
March 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 26


Mitch Albom, an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician, will be Penn’s guest speaker for the Baccalaureate  Ceremony on Sunday, May 16. The Baccalaureate Ceremony is a 50-minute interfaith program that includes music, readings, prayers, and a guest speaker. Two consecutive ceremonies will be held in Irvine Auditorium, in order to accommodate all those who wish to attend. Students whose last names begin with A through K are invited to attend the 1:30 p.m. ceremony. Students whose last names begin with L through Z are invited to attend the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Mr. Albom’s books have collectively sold over 28 million copies worldwide; have been published in 41 territories and in 42 languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.

He is the author of ten books, including the newest, Have a Little Faith. His first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, 2003, is the most successful US hardback first novel ever and has to date sold over 11 million copies worldwide. Tuesdays With Morrie, (1997) his chronicle of time spent with a beloved but dying college professor, spent four years on the NY Times bestseller list and is now the most successful memoir ever published. His three best sellers, including For One More Day, 2006, have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Most recently, Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day aired on ABC in 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination.

An award-winning journalist and radio host, Mr. Albom wrote the screenplay for both For One More Day and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and is an established playwright, having authored numerous pieces for the theater, including the off-Broadway version of Tuesdays With Morrie (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher) which has seen over 100 productions across the US and Canada.

Mr. Albom has founded four charities, many in the metropolitan Detroit area: The Dream Fund, A Time To Help, and S.A.Y. Detroit, an umbrella organization for charities dedicated to improving the lives of the neediest, including the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic. His most recent effort, A Hole in the Roof Foundation, helps faith groups of every denomination who care for the homeless repair the spaces in which they carry out their work. The seed that gave root to the Foundation —and also inspired its name—was the hole in the roof of the I Am My Brother’s Keeper church in inner-city Detroit, written about in Have a Little Faith. Mr. Albom devoted an area of his website, www.mitchalbom.com/service, to hosting a directory of local and national service opportunities. He also raises money for literacy projects through a variety of means including his performances with The Rock Bottom Remainders, a band made up of writers which includes Stephen King, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Amy Tan and Ridley Pearson. Mr. Albom serves on the boards of various charities and, in 1999, was named National Hospice Organization’s Man of the Year.

In 2010, Mr. Albom was named the recipient of the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement by the Associated Press Sports Editors.


Almanac - March 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 26