Peter Dexter, a 1969 graduate of The University of South Dakota, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters and Literature degree during the 123rd spring commencement. Dexter, a Hollywood screenwriter and National Book Award-winning novelist, will also deliver the keynote address, “Does Anybody Here Know Where We’re Going?”

Born in Pontiac, Mich., Dexter was a columnist for several high profile daily newspapers in the United States, including the Philadelphia Daily News, the Sacramento Bee and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 1981, he began writing fiction after a life-changing incident left him injured and partially disabled. His first novel, “God’s Pocket,” was published in 1983. His 1988 novel, “Paris Trout,” received the National Book Award for Fiction. Additionally, he has contributed to several magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated and Playboy. An accomplished screenwriter, Dexter’s screenplays include “Rush,” “Michael,” “Mulholland Falls,” and “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” He was nominated for an Emmy in 1992 for Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or Special for the movie based on his award-winning novel, “Paris Trout.” Dexter currently lives in Clinton, a community located on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, where he continues to write. His most recent novel, “Spooner,” released last year, contains South Dakota connections, both in character background and setting.

In addition to honoring Dexter, USD will award degrees to 1,222 candidates on May 8. The University will also pay tribute to distinguished faculty members from the 2009-10 academic year, including recipients of the Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching; the Richard and Sharon Cutler Awards in Liberal Arts; the John Wesley Jackson Memorial Award presented to the outstanding professor of law; and the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Professor Award.

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