This year’s freshman class at the University of Mississippi will be greeted by a best-selling author and receive a limited edition coin at the annual Freshman Convocation.
Tom Franklin, assistant professor of fiction writing in the UM Department of English, is the keynote speaker for the event, set for 7 p.m. Aug. 23 in Tad Smith Coliseum.
Earlier this year, a committee of UM faculty, staff and students chose Franklin’s most recent novel, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” as the 2012 Common Reading Experience book. All freshmen received the book at orientation, and it will make up a large part of the EDHE 105 Freshman Year Experience and WRIT 101 course curricula. Franklin said he hopes that the book’s message will challenge students. “I hope that these freshmen will consider we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.” Franklin said. “I do hope that it may cause other people to be kinder to strangers and for us to not judge others so quickly. If it just helps one person reconsider what they may have previously thought, I’ve done my job.”
Franklin’s fourth book has received national acclaim, including the Los Angeles Times’ Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, the Crime Writers Association’s Gold Dagger Award and the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. In addition, the book spent time on the New York Times’ Best Seller list and was named the No. 1 pick for both independent and Barnes and Noble bookstores in separate months during 2010.
The story is one with which all students should be able to connect, said Dewey Knight, UM associate director of financial aid and a Common Reading Experience committee member.
“It gives you a view of Mississippi and all of its dynamics,” Knight said. “The dialogue and issues that it addresses are so real to the state and to so many places from which our students come. To add to that, it’s an incredible story and definitely a page-turner.”
The convocation is the only time that freshmen can get their limited-edition class coins, Knight said. The coins feature the civil rights monument and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the university’s integration.
Students are encouraged to save their class coins and bring them to commencement in May 2016. Freshmen are asked to attend the convocation with their EDHE instructors, who will be passing out coins at the conclusion of the ceremony.
For a list of upcoming Common Reading Experience events, all of which are open to the public, visit http://umreads.olemiss.edu/.