Novelist James Patterson to deliver MSU commencement address

Contact: Paige Watson

Novelist James Patterson (Photo by David Burnett)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—As an international best-selling author, James Patterson is a man of words.

During Mississippi State’s Dec. 11 fall graduation program, the award-winning writer whose fictional novels have sold more than 300 million copies will share a few more of them as the university’s commencement speaker.

The public ceremony for all fall semester graduates gets underway at 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. More than 1,300 MSU students are candidates for degrees.

A New York native, Patterson is best-known for his Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett crime novel series. A summa cum laude English graduate of both Manhattan College and Vanderbilt University, the Florida resident also has produced several popular book series for young adults.

He currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most No. 1 New York Times best-sellers of any author and was the first to achieve 10 million e-book sales. He also became the first to have No. 1 new titles listed simultaneously on the Times’ children’s and adult best-seller lists.

“We all know we’re supposed to teach our kids how to ride a bike and kick a football, but the most important thing we have to do is make sure they can read competently because it helps them become better, smarter people and gives them a chance in a harder and harder world,” Patterson said in a 2013 interview.

To put action to those words and share their love of reading with current and future generations, Patterson and wife Susan Solie Patterson long have been major supporters of literacy education initiatives. Earlier this year at MSU, the couple established the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship Endowment, with inaugural awards to eight freshman elementary education majors this year.

“Having our students interact with a speaker with the demonstrated values and commitment to quality education of author James Patterson is indeed exciting for our December graduates,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “James Patterson and his wife, Susan Solie Patterson, have become a tremendous force for good in higher education, and we are very pleased to have them affiliated with Mississippi State through their foundation.”

Over the decades, Patterson has been honored with the Edgar, BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year and International Thriller of the Year awards. In 2010, he also was named author of the year by the national Children’s Book Council. For more, visit

Complete information about MSU’s 2015 fall commencement is available from the Office of the Registrar at 662-325-2022 or

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