Pitt to grant Hayes honorary degree

Terrence Hayes' book "How to Be Drawn" has been nominated for a National Book Award. Heather Tennant | Staff Photographer

At its 40th annual Honors Convocation at the end of February, Pitt will award poet Terrance Hayes an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will award Hayes the degree at the ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26 at the Carnegie Music Hall on Forbes Avenue.

“[Hayes’] contributions of poetry and service make him one of the treasures of our region, and I’m humbled to be able to recognize him with an honorary doctorate at Honors Convocation,” Gallagher said in a statement.

Hayes, an award-winning poet and English professor at Pitt, will also deliver the keynote address at the ceremony, according to Sharon Malazich, who works in Pitt’s special events department.

In September 2014, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded Hayes a MacArthur fellowship, commonly referred to as a “genius grant.”

Hayes has published six collections of poetry. His 2015 collection, “How to be Drawn,” was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his 2010 collection, “Lighthead,” won the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry. His 2006 collection, “Wind in a Box,” won a Pushcart Prize, and his 2002 collection, “Hip Logic,” won the 2001 National Poetry Series, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Pitt occasionally awards the keynote speaker at Honors Convocation ceremonies an honorary degree and has awarded two since 2010, according to University news releases.

In 2014, Alvin E. Roth, co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in economics, spoke at Pitt’s Honors Convocation and then-Chancellor Mark Nordenberg awarded him an honorary doctorate. Nordenberg also awarded Jared L. Cohon, the former president of Carnegie Mellon University, an honorary doctorate in 2013.

Hayes did not respond to an email requesting comment.

“We are privileged to have Terrance Hayes as a member of Pitt’s faculty,” Gallagher said. “His extraordinary achievements and generous teaching enrich our students, University and our community.”

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