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April 23, 2003
OSWEGO -- A prolific children's book author and one of the intelligence community's top experts on Russia will be the speakers at SUNY Oswego's dual 142nd Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 17. The two SUNY Oswego alumni will also receive honorary doctoral degrees.
Bruce Coville, the author of more than 80 children's books that have over 15 million copies in print, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at the 9 a.m. ceremony. Dr. Peter Clement, the senior expert for Russian affairs at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the 1:30 p.m. ceremony. Both ceremonies will take place in Romney Field House.
Originally from the Oswego County village of Phoenix, Coville graduated from Oswego in 1973 and became a teacher in Liverpool. His first book, "The Foolish Giant," was published in 1978 and was selected for the Random House School Book Club. He left teaching in 1981 to pursue writing full time.
He has written several series, including the Magic Shop, My Teacher, Space Brat and Unicorn Chronicles. "My Teacher Is an Alien" sold 4.5 million copies, and "Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher," part of the Magic Shop series, received a Children's Choice award.
Coville's books have been reprinted in Great Britain, Japan, Sweden, France, Korea, Russia and Italy. His awards include the Golden Duck Award for Best Science Fiction for Children, the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults, and the Knickerbocker Award from the New York Library Association.
Coville said that he aspired to be writer from his own youth, and he has credited the late Helen Buckley Simkiewicz, one of his professors at Oswego, for encouraging him.
A 1971 graduate of Oswego in history, Clement has served with the CIA for 25 years. He was selected to head the agency's Russian Affairs Division in 1992 and in 1995 became the director of the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis.
Since the early 1990s, he and his staff have analyzed historic events in Russia: the fall of Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsinıs tumultuous tenure, Russia's first free presidential and legislative elections, privatization and the economic crash of 1998, the war in Chechnya, and the peaceful transfer of power from Yeltsin to Putin in 2000.
After graduating from Oswego, he earned a master's degree in European history and a doctorate in Russian history at Michigan State University. He has published extensively in scholarly journals and books on Soviet and Russian affairs and, most recently, on the Cuban missile crisis.
He has taught for some 10 years as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia. He frequently guest lectures at universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Georgetown, among others.
SUNY Oswego honored Clement with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996 and Coville with the same award in 1998. Both have served as master of ceremonies for the college's commencement eve Torchlight Ceremony in past years.
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