Author, professor to give UHV commencement speech

ZZ Packer, a creative writing professor andaward-winning author, will deliver the keynote address during the University of Houston-Victoria fall commencement ceremony on Dec. 10.

“We are honored to have one of America’s leading young authors as our commencement speaker,” UHV President Phil Castille said. “Ms. Packer already has won some of our country’s highest literary awards and taught at some of its most prestigious universities. She will serve as an inspiration to our students at UHV as they enter a new chapter in their lives.”

ZZ Packer
ZZ Packer

The Austin-based author is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Whiting Award, and, most recently, a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her book “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” won the Commonwealth First Fiction Award and an ALEX Award. It became a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2004 and was selected for the Today Show Book Club by John Updike.

Packer’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope: All-Story, Best American Short Stories 2000 and 2003, and NPR’s “Selected Shorts” series. Her nonfiction has been in the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Essence, O Magazine, Glamour, The American Prospect, The Oxford American, The Guardian, The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker Online.

She is editor of “New Short Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2008.” Packer previously was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, and is at work on a novel about the Reconstruction and Buffalo Soldiers titled “The Thousands,” an excerpt of which appeared in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 Fiction Issue under the title “Dayward.”

Packer received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and then received degrees from Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

As a creative writing professor, Packer teaches in the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Tulane University, Vassar College, San Jose State University, The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University at San Marcos and Stanford University.

UHV holds graduation ceremonies in two different locations each year. Spring commencement is in Victoria, while the fall ceremony is held in Katy to better accommodate the number of UHV students who take classes at the UH System at Sugar Land the UH System at Cinco Ranch.

The Dec. 10 ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane. For more information, contact special events coordinator Nancy Gresham at 361-570-4351 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler