Students to celebrate achievement at UHV fall graduation

KATY – More than 500 University of Houston-Victoria students are scheduled to walk on Saturday and hear an address from an award-winning author during the university’s fall commencement ceremony.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane. ZZ Packer, a creative writing professor and novelist, will deliver the commencement address.

Phil Castille
Phil Castille

“UHV faculty and staff are looking forward to helping these students and their families celebrate this special day,” UHV President Phil Castille said. “We also are looking forward to hearing from ZZ Packer, one of the most celebrated young authors in America.”

UHV Faculty Senate President Keith Akins will serve as the grand marshal during the ceremony. The deans of UHV’s four schools will award students their diplomas, and Castille will confer the degrees. Outstanding students for the fall semester also will be recognized, along with faculty members who previously received awards for excellence in teaching, research and service.

The Honorable Roger Welder, a Victoria resident who serves on the UH System Board of Regents, will bring greetings on behalf of the board. Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH System and president of UH, will address the audience. Regent Jacob Monty also will be in attendance.

ZZ Packer
ZZ Packer

Packer is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Whiting Award, and, most recently, a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her short-story collection, “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 and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, and 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 Period and Buffalo Soldiers titled “The Thousands.”

Packer grew up in Louisville, Ky.

As a creative writing professor, she teaches in the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and has taught at many other universities including Johns Hopkins University, Tulane University, The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, and Stanford University.

Following the fall commencement ceremony, a reception for graduates and their guests will take place in the Merrell Center. For more information about commencement, 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