South Texas author to give UHV commencement keynote address

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, award-winning author of a series of novels set in a fictional county in the Rio Grande Valley, will give the keynote address May 12 during the University of Houston Victoria’s two spring commencement ceremonies.

“We are honored to have such a well-known author in American literature as our commencement speaker,” UHV President Phil Castille said. “Those who heard him speak in Victoria as part of the UHV/American Book Review Reading Series and Community Pachanga about a year ago know that his remarks will inspire our graduates as they look forward to the next chapter in their lives.”

Hinojosa-Smith is an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin and has published numerous books, poetry, short stories and essays during his career. His works include the 15-volume Klail City Death Trip series about a fictional South Texas county. The most recent volume in the series is “We Happy Few,” which was published in 2006.

A military veteran, Hinojosa-Smith also has written about his experiences, including the 1978 “Korean Love Songs.” His 1985 book, “Partners in Crime,” and 1998 follow-up, “Ask a Policeman,” are novels set amidst the increasingly violent border drug trade.

Hinojosa-Smith was born and raised in the agricultural town of Mercedes and developed an early love of reading, encouraged by his Anglo mother and Mexican-American father. Both of his parents were fluent in English and Spanish.

Among the many writing honors for Hinojosa-Smith is the 2007 Bookend Award for Ongoing Literary Achievement. He was the first Hispanic author to receive the prestigious Premio Casa de las Américas award for “Klail City y sus alrededores,” which is part of the Klail City Death Trip series.

Hinojosa-Smith said he is looking forward to returning to Victoria to talk to UHV’s graduates.

“I hope to impart to the graduates a lasting love of and loyalty to UHV and an understanding of how and why UHV was founded,” he said.

UHV will hold two graduation ceremonies in Victoria to accommodate the university’s growth. Both will take place in Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane, the largest indoor facility available in Victoria. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for the schools of Business Administration and Nursing.

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