Pulitzer Prize Winner David M. Oshinsky Will be Speaker for 124th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin

March 28, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. David M. Oshinsky, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in the history category, will be the speaker at the 124th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin, May 19 on the Main Mall.

Dr. David M. Oshinsky
Dr. David M. Oshinsky

Oshinsky, the Jack S. Blanton Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin, received the Pulitzer Prize in April for his book "Polio: An American Story," which details America's obsession with the disease in the 1940s and 1950s.

"We're very pleased that David Oshinsky will be our commencement speaker this year," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "As an exceptional scholar, dynamic teacher and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, he represents the best of our university's academic community and our highest aspirations. The 2007 graduates and their families are in for a real treat." 

Oshinsky, a leading historian of modern American politics and society, holds a doctor's degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and since 2001 been a professor at The University of Texas at Austin where he specializes in 20th century U.S. political and cultural history.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be the commencement speaker," said Oshinsky. "Since coming here six years ago, my wife, Jane, and I have fallen in love with UT, with Austin, and with Texas. I've found the students and faculty to be the equal of any I've taught and worked with in my three decades of academic life. And UT, already a world-class university, is getting better by the year."

"Polio: An American Story" has received accolades from National Public Radio's "Science Friday," the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the New York Times and other media outlets. With no known prevention or cure, polio was a frightening disease that held the United States in its grips until a vaccine was found. Oshinsky's book examines the race between rival researchers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin to find that life-saving vaccine. It notes that polio actually was a relatively uncommon disease but was kept in the spotlight by an aggressive public relations campaign and unprecedented fund-raising efforts by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which founded the March of Dimes.

Oshinsky also is the author of "A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy" and "Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice," both of which won major prizes and were New York Times Notable Books.

Oshinsky is the second University of Texas at Austin professor to win a Pulitzer Prize. The other was William Goetzmann, who won the award in 1967 for his book "Exploration and Empire."

More information about the university's 124th Spring Commencement is available online.

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.