Athens, Ga. – Lehman College, a unit of the City University of New York, has awarded an honorary doctorate to Judith Ortiz Cofer, Regents Professor and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Cofer received the award during commencement ceremonies at the college on May 31. She was awarded the degree in recognition of her “distinguished record of personal and professional accomplishments and service to society.”
She is the author of 10 books, and her critically acclaimed work has been widely anthologized.
“This is a great honor and very satisfying to me, as a writer and educator, to know that the larger academic community values my work,” said Cofer.
Cofer has received numerous awards and honors for her writing.Most recently, her book The Latin Deli was selected by the Georgia Center for the Book for its 2005 Georgia Top 25 Reading List, which is made up of books set in Georgia or written by a resident or former resident of the state.Also in 2005, Cofer’s Call Me Maria was selected as one of two texts to receive honorable mention for the Americas Award, sponsored by the National Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, for U.S.-published titles that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean or Latinos in the United States.
Her novel The Meaning of Consuelo was selected as one of two winners of the 2003 Americas Award.The novel was also included on the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2004 List.In addition, she has received more than 30 fellowships and grants, including awards from the UGA Research Foundation, UGA’s Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Founded in 1931 as the Bronx campus of Hunter College, Lehman College was established in 1968 as an independent college of the City University of New York and named for Herbert H. Lehman, a New York governor, U.S. senator, philanthropist and humanitarian. During World War II, Lehman’s campus became the main national training site for women in the military. For six months in 1946, the campus served as interim headquarters for the newly formed United Nations.
Cofer’s books include A Love Story Beginning in Spanish:Poems; Call Me Maria, a young adult novel; The Meaning of Consuelo, a novel; Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer, a collection of essays;The Line of the Sun, a novel; Silent Dancing, a collection of essays and poetry; two books of poetry, Terms of Survival and Reaching for the Mainland; and The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry.
Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Glamour and other journals and has been included in numerous textbooks and anthologies including Best American Essays 1991, The Norton Book of Women’s Lives, The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, The Heath Anthology of American Literature, The Pushcart Prize, and the O. Henry Prize Stories.
Others awarded honorary degrees at Lehman this year included Adam Guettel, Tony Award-winning composer; Judith Malina, actor, writer and director of The Living Theater; and Peter Roos, a noted civil rights lawyer. The speaker for the event was Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the first African American to hold that position.