OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego’s Quest has chosen Bruce Coville, alumnus and famed author of books for children and young adults, as keynote speaker for the daylong celebration of scholarly and creative pursuits in April.
Coville is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. April 9, in the Campus Center auditorium. The session is free and open to the public, as are scores of presentations, exhibitions and demonstrations that day, most in the Campus Center.
A 1973 alumnus and author of more than 100 books in such series as “The Unicorn Chronicles” and “Sixth Grade Alien,” Coville will set an inspiring tone, said this year’s Quest coordinator, Norm Weiner, SUNY Oswego emeritus professor of sociology and past director of the Honors Program.
“I was trying to find a keynote speaker students may have heard of and be interested in hearing,” Weiner said. “Bruce said, ‘This is great — I’d love to do it.’ He’s very excited and so am I.”
Generous to SUNY Oswego with his time over the years, Coville told graduates at the college’s December 2011 Commencement to hang onto their “deepest, truest beliefs” in searching for their life’s work: “Do as you love,” he prescribed. As Coville and his wife, illustrator Katherine Dietz, struggled to sell books in the 1970s and early ’80s, he lived by those words.
Long before his success with such international bestsellers as “My Teacher Is an Alien,” Coville worked many jobs. A former elementary school teacher — as well as former “toymaker, gravedigger, cookware salesman and assembly line worker,” as he likes to say — Coville publicly credits his sixth-grade teacher, Florence Crandall, and a professor at SUNY Oswego, the late Helen Buckley Simkiewicz, with encouraging his love of writing.
Weiner said Coville’s education and its connection to the creative life is a key ingredient that will energize students and members of the community at Quest.
“I think as someone immersed in creative activities, Bruce brings a lifetime of experience relevant to students,” Weiner said. “I think he can speak personally and professionally about taking risks, being creative and about the place of creativity in every pursuit, from sciences to the humanities.”
Besides writing books, Coville has authored four musicals, formed Syracuse audiobooks publishing company Full Cast Audio and appeared frequently at schools around Central New York and elsewhere to pass along his love of reading and writing.
His best-selling works of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and magic have appeared in more than a dozen languages and have sparked the imaginations of millions of children — 18 million copies of his books are in print.
Along with Coville’s many literary awards, the Oswego Alumni Association honored him with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1998, and the State University of New York system awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 2003.
Parking is free April 9 for visitors to Quest in the rear half of the lot behind Hart and Funnelle residence halls and in the adjacent commuter lot.
For more information, visit www.oswego.edu/quest