Oscar-winning screenwriter to deliver UMass Dartmouth commencement address

Brian Helgeland, class of 1983, to join civil war historian, Portuguese-American civic leader, nationally acclaimed author in receiving honorary degrees May 22 Brian Helgeland, a New Bedford native who graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 1983 and has established himself as one of the leading screenwriters in Hollywood, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree when 1,500 UMass Dartmouth students graduate May 22.

Brian Helgeland, class of 1983, to join Portuguese-American civic leader, nationally acclaimed author in receiving honorary degrees May 22 

Brian Helgeland, a New Bedford native who graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 1983 and has established himself as one of the leading screenwriters in Hollywood, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree when 1,500 UMass Dartmouth students graduate May 22. 

Mr. Helgeland won the 1997 Academy Award for writing the screenplay of L.A. Confidential, and most recently wrote the highly acclaimed film adaptation of Dennis Lehane novel Mystic River. Other screenwriting credits include Conspiracy Theory and Assassins, and he has directed hits such as A Knight's Tale and Payback. 

"As a native New Englander and distinguished alumnus of UMass Dartmouth, Brian Helgeland is a powerful example to the young men and women who graduate from this campus that their dreams and goals are attainable if they remain dedicated and persevere in their endeavors,'' Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. 

Mr. Helgeland will be one of three honorary degree recipients honored at the commencement, including: 

  • Luis Pedroso, a successful businessman who has lived the American Dream and helped make the dream accessible to others by supporting the UMass Dartmouth Center For Portuguese Studies and Culture and the establishement of the Helio and Amelia Pedroso/Luso-American Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies
  • Diane Middlebrook, the highly acclaimed biographer best known for her book about poet Anne Sexton. Other books include Her Husband: Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath, a Marriage, which is featured in A&E's Biography program on Sylvia Plath this spring 

The honorary degree recipients will be celebrated at a gala dinner on May 21 on the campus. Proceeds from the gala, which brings together hundreds of people from the University and the community, will fund student scholarships. 

The commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the campus' Vietnam Veterans Memorial Amphitheater located next to the library. 

Due to the growth of the graduating class over the last several years, the university has re-formatted the commencement exercises with the entire university community gathered for the commencement address and conferral of honorary degrees in the amphitheater but college exercises taking place in various sites across the campus so that each graduate's name can still be read as their diplomas are awarded. 


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