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Library of Congress Living Legend and King University Alumna Katherine Paterson to Speak at 2017 Spring Commencement April 29

Katherine PatersonBRISTOL, Tenn., April 18, 2017 – Anticipation is building as King University’s spring 2017 Commencement ceremony nears. King will celebrate Spring Commencement exercises on Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. on the Oval located on the University’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn. The scheduled keynote speaker is King College alumna Katherine Paterson. Her Commencement speech with be “Living the Vision.”

King will award diplomas to more than 560 students who have completed undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies degrees. Special honors will include M. Jeffrey Byrd Distinguished Service Award, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, and R.T.L. Liston Award for Academic Excellence.

Commencement speaker Katherine Paterson was born in China in 1932 to Christian missionaries; she spent much of her childhood there until the family was forced to flee during the Japanese invasion. Her family often moved due to their missionary work. While in school, Paterson began to write, penning many plays, in which her peers acted. 

In 1954, Paterson graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English from King College (now King University).  She received her master’s degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. After teaching for a year, Paterson spent four years in Japan as a missionary. She then traveled back to New York to pursue a second master’s degree in religious education. 

Paterson has since authored more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for “Bridge to Teribithia” in 1978 and “Jacob Have I Loved” in 1981. “The Master Puppeteer” won the National Book Award in 1977, and “The Great Gilly Hopkins” won the National Book Award in 1979 and was also a Newbery Honor Book. For the body of her work, she received the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1998, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006, and in 2000 was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

She is a vice-president of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and is a member of the board of trustees of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is also an honorary lifetime member of the International Board of Books for Young People and an Alida Cutts lifetime member of the US section, USBBY. She is the 2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

The Patersons have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Katherine currently resides in Vermont with her faithful dog, Pixie.

Visit for information on parking for the Commencement ceremony. The ceremony will be streamed live on

King University’s Baccalaureate Ceremony, featuring the Rev. Dr. Peter D. Barnes, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., as speaker, will take place at First Presbyterian Church on Friday, April 28, at 6 p.m.


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.