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Pulitzer Prize Winner, HP Executive to Speak at Commencement

March 15, 2017

Lesley Slaton BrownPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Héctor Tobar and HP Inc. Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown are the keynote speakers for UC Merced’s 12th commencement exercises, May 13 and 14.

The campus expects more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students to participate, bringing the number of UC Merced alumni to more than 7,000.

“We’re delighted to have two exceptional and successful individuals — Mr. Tobar and Ms. Slaton Brown — address our graduates this year,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Both have made their marks in their respective fields and will impart their experiences and words of wisdom to our graduating class of 2017.”

Slaton Brown will address candidates from the schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences and their families at 9 a.m. May 13.  

Slaton Brown has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, building and driving business strategies and outcomes for corporations, startups and nonprofits. Her passion for entrepreneurial and leadership development, coupled with her global marketing, branding, communications, and diversity and inclusion experience, has helped her lead efforts to address the digital divide by building sustainable enterprise solutions in Senegal, West Africa.

She was named the 2016 Woman of the Year in Technology by Silicon Valley’s Chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. and won the 2016 Multicultural Leadership Award from the National Diversity Council. She was recognized by Savoy Magazine as a Top Influential Woman in Corporate America, Diversity Journal’s Leaders publication, and Black Enterprise’s Top Executive in Marketing and Advertising.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boise State University.

Héctor Tobar Tobar will address candidates from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at 9 a.m. May 14.

Tobar is the author of four books, including the novels “The Barbarian Nurseries,” which was a New York Times Notable Book and won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction, and “The Tattooed Soldier.”

His nonfiction book “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of Thirty-Three Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into the movie “The 33.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught writing and journalism at Pomona College and the University of Oregon.

Tobar was a foreign correspondent with the Los Angeles Times in Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and a part of the reporting team that earned a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He has also been an op-ed writer for the New York Times and a contributor to the New Yorker.

Because of the campus’s expansion under the Merced 2020 Project, this year’s commencement ceremonies are returning to the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad, where they were held in 2007 and 2008. Commencement is a ticketed event for invited guests. 

For information on the event, visit commencement.ucmerced.edu.