Penske to be honored at Winter Commencement

Degrees also awarded to artist Ringgold, poet Stevenson

Roger Penske, legendary race team leader and automotive industry innovator, will be the speaker at Winter Commencement.

Penske will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony. Also receiving honorary degrees are artist and author Faith Ringgold, who will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, and poet Anne Stevenson, to be presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Penske (Photo courtesy Roger Penske)
Ringgold (Photo courtesy Faith Ringgold)
Stevenson (Photo by Ernestine Ruben)

The event opens at 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at Crisler Arena.

Born in Cleveland, Penske by age 21 already had driven in his first official race for the Sports Car Club of America. In 1962 he was named "Driver of the Year" by the New York Times.

Penske shifted his talent for racing to retail automotive enterprise by establishing car dealerships in several cities and founding Penske Corp., which formed historic alliances with various segments of the automotive industry. The company has grown to more than 40,000 employees with annual revenues in excess of $20 billion.

Penske also established Penske Racing, which has recorded more than 300 major victories in a variety of racing disciplines and won the Indianapolis 500 an unprecedented 14 times.

In all endeavors, he applied his philosophy of "Effort Equals Results." In Detroit, Penske served as chairman of the host committee for the successful 2006 Super Bowl XL. He now chairs the Downtown Detroit Partnership, focused on improving the city. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998, and was named Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News in 2005 and Newsmaker of the Year by Crain's Detroit Business in 2006.

Faith Ringgold, a prominent artist and author whose art is exhibited in museums around the world, has an audience ranging from children to discerning connoisseurs of art.

Born in Harlem, she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees then taught in the public schools of New York City, while producing oil paintings and posters that carried political messages in support of civil rights. Ringgold also moved beyond traditional oil painting techniques to quilt-size pieces of narrative art.

In 1984 she was appointed professor of art at the University of California, San Diego, where she now is a professor emerita. In 1991 Ringgold adapted her story quilt Tar Beach into a widely celebrated children's book. Her memoir "We Flew Over the Bridge" was published in 1995.

Ringgold's art is found in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. She has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors.

Anne Stevenson is recognized as one of the foremost poets of the English-speaking world. Born in Cambridge, England, she was raised in the United States. As an undergraduate at U-M, she won three Hopwood awards before graduating in 1954. After several years in England, she returned to U-M in the early 1960s to earn her master's degree.

She has published critical studies of the poet Elizabeth Bishop and a controversial biography of Sylvia Plath, "Bitter Fame." Her epic "Correspondences" explores the ambiguous legacy of the Puritan tradition in the context of American history. Among recent awards were the inaugural Northern Rock Foundation Award in 2002 and in 2007, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Poetry Foundation's Neglected Master's Award and The University of the South's Aiken-Taylor Award.

The American Poets Project of the Library of America recently published her "Selected Poems."