‘Mystic River’ Novelist To Be Commencement Speaker

Gintautas Dumcius

Mystic River author Dennis Lehane will be this year’s commencement speaker. Lehane, who went to UMass Boston for a year before moving to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend Eckard College, will also be receiving an honorary degree.

“We’re excited and feel privileged that Mr. Lehane will be a participant in our 2004 commencement,” said Ed Hayward, spokesman for the university. “He’s a Dorchester guy, and he’s writing exciting and insightful novels that portray Dorchester and many other neighborhoods of the city. These are neighborhoods where UMass Boston students live. So we think that there’s going to be a real connection between Mr. Lehane and the class of 2004.”

Lehane has written seven novels, one of his more famous being Mystic River, which was recently made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon. The movie won several major awards.

Lehane recently joined the writing staff of the HBO cop drama “The Wire,” making it his first shot at writing on the big and small screen. With Brian Helgeland, who adapted Mystic River into a screenplay, he recently won the 16th Annual Scripter Award for best achievement in adapting a book into a movie.

Lehane spoke with The Mass Media’s Carl Brooks last year on why he chose to go to UMass Boston. “It was within walking distance of my house and a lot of my friends were going there. I went for a year and majored in English long enough to realize that I didn’t enjoy talking about books; I wanted to write them.”

Lehane could not be reached for comment by press time.

Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman gave last year’s commencement address. In 2002, Tim Russert from “Meet The Press” took to the podium to address students.

The rest of this year’s honorary degree recipients will be announced at a later date. The 2004 commencement will be held at the Bayside Expo Center on Friday, June 4, 2004.