Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design has named Teju Cole as its 2019 Class Day speaker. Cole will address the GSD’s Class of 2019 and their families during the School’s 2019 Class Day exercises on Wednesday, May 29.
Cole is currently photography critic for the New York Times Magazine and the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard. He is the author of four books, including debut novel Open City, and has won an array of awards for his writing, including the PEN/Hemingway Award in 2011, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction in 2015, and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. As a photographer, he has had solo exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. His photography column at the New York Times Magazine, “On Photography,” was a finalist for a 2016 National Magazine Award.
Speaking with the Harvard Gazette last December, Cole ruminated on some of the ethos and insight he hopes to share with his creative writing students at Harvard.
“For most students who end up here, Harvard can feel like the big prize. It’s dazzling,” he said. “But here’s the thing: You have not arrived at a destination, you have arrived at a beginning. There’s so much to do that’s not about the grades. We live in a society in which there’s not only so much to do but also so much to undo. Students have a task ahead—not just of achievement, which can be mechanical, but also of deconstruction, which is often a more delicate matter.”
To see a full schedule of 2019 Class Day and Commencement exercises, and for other Commencement information, please visit the GSD’s Commencement webpage.