Andrea Barrett ’74, the National Book Award winner whose novels and short stories combine art and science with copious historical research, will be the featured speaker at Founders Day Thursday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.
The event commemorates the 228th anniversary of the granting of Union’s charter by the state Board of Regents, regarded as one of the first public calls for higher education.
Barrett’s talk is free and open to the campus community and the public.
In 1996, Barrett was a gifted but obscure writer when she stunned the literary world by winning the National Book Award for fiction for “Ship Fever and Other Stories.”
Publishing’s version of the Oscars, the National Book Award (which included a $10,000 prize) firmly established Barrett as a literary force. In the 25 years since winning the award, Barrett has written five other books, including “Servants of the Map,” a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Her latest collection of stories, “Natural History,” was released last fall.
In addition to the National Book Award, Barrett has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship, or genius grant, which carries a prize of $500,000.
Barrett will attend a reception from 2 to 3 p.m. following the Founders Day convocation.
Schaffer Library’s Lally Reading Room will have an exhibit of Barrett’s papers, which she recently donated to the College.
Barrett, who majored in biology at Union, lives in New York’s Champlain Valley with her husband of 43 years, Barry Goldstein ’73.
Also at Founders Day, the College will present the Gideon Hawley Teacher Recognition Award. Named for the 1809 graduate of Union who was New York state’s first superintendent of public education, the award is given to secondary school teachers who have had a continuing influence on the academic life of Union students.
Past Founders Day speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Russo and James M. McPherson; Paul LeClerc, retired president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library and a former professor at Union; and Joanna Stern ’06, senior personal technology columnist at the Wall Street Journal.
Founders Day will be livestreamed on Union's Facebook page.