Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz to give 2016 commencement address

The Mandel School’s 2016 commencement address will be delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, announced Dean Grover C. Gilmore.

“Connie Schultz has a longstanding commitment to social justice, speaking forcefully for those who otherwise don’t have a voice and serving as a diligent guardian of human rights. She will inspire our new graduates as they embark upon lives as change agents throughout the world,” Dean Gilmore said.

She will also receive the Mandel School Advocate for Human Rights Award for significant contributions as a leader, role model and creator of opportunities for others. Dean Gilmore will present her with the award at commencement.

The diploma ceremony begins at 11:45 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday, May 15. Click here to watch it via livestream.

Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creator’s Syndicate and is Professional in Residence at Kent State University. She won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for columns that judges praised for providing “a voice for the underdog and underprivileged,” a common theme in her writing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Parade, The Atlantic, ESPN Magazine and Democracy Journal.

Schultz served as a reporter and columnist at The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) for nearly 20 years, from 1993 to 2011. While there, she won a Pulitzer Prize, was a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and also earned such prestigious awards as the National Headliner Award for Commentary, the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Commentary, the Batten Medal, and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting.

Schultz is also a fellow with the Vietnam Reporting Project. Her 2011 series, “Unfinished Business,” explored the long-term impact of Agent Orange in the United States and in Vietnam. The series won the Associated Press Managing Editors Journalism Excellence Award in International Perspective. She has received six honorary degrees and for the last two years has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

Schultz has authored two books, “Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths,” a collection of essays, and “… and His Lovely Wife,” a memoir about her husband Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 race for the U.S. Senate. She is currently working on her first novel, and he is currently the senior senator from Ohio. They have four grown children, five grandchildren and live in Cleveland, Ohio, with their rescue dog, Franklin.

In addition to her busy writing career, she is a public speaker, talking about topics like journalism, women’s rights and politics. Schultz also uses social media to encourage civil discourse and as an outlet to share her writing, opinions and even photos of Franklin every now and then. She has more than 151,000 followers on Facebook and more than 17,400 followers on Twitter. Last June, the Columbia Journalism Review praised her success for melding new media with traditional journalism to address timely topics and build a respectful, engaged and vibrant online community.

Schultz will speak at the Mandel School’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15, at the Maltz Performing Arts Center, to graduates of the school’s social work and nonprofit management graduate programs and their guests. This event is part of the Mandel School’s Centennial celebration, marking the 100th anniversary of its founding at Case Western Reserve University as the nation’s first university-affiliated professional school of social work.

(Photo credit: Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer)