Award-winning author and journalist Timothy Egan will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Western Washington University at winter Commencement Saturday, March 17. Egan, of Seattle, will also be the ceremony’s Commencement speaker.
The winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Egan has made a career of chronicling the epic landscapes – both human and natural – of the American West. For 18 years, he served as The New York Times’ Pacific Northwest correspondent and a national enterprise reporter. Egan shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his work on the series, “How Race is Lived in America.” Today, he is a columnist for the paper.
Egan is also a prolific writer of award-winning works of non-fiction – and the occasional novel – that bring to life the complex human and natural ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. Several of his books explore environmental calamities that shape human destiny. His 2006 work, “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl,” won a National Book Award for nonfiction. Egan’s 2010 work, “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America,” revisited the largest wildfire in the nation’s history and its legacy in the wilderness conservation movement; it also won the Washington State Book Award for history/biography. And Egan’s eloquent “The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest” from 1991 is still considered a must-read for those who wish to understand our regional ecological landscape.
Last year, Western was given authority by the Washington State Legislature to grant honorary doctoral degrees in recognition of outstanding achievement in arts, letters, sciences, or the professions, or for service in education, government or humanitarian endeavors. Egan will receive Western’s second honorary doctorate, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Western’s first such honorary degree was awarded in December 2011 to Jane Lubchenco, chief administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.