Dear University of Maryland community,
As we begin the final weeks of our first fully in-person semester since 2019, we will soon be celebrating the grit, determination and success of our winter 2021 graduates at our campuswide commencement ceremony on December 20, 2021 at XFINITY Center.
It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce our Winter 2021 Commencement Ceremony speaker is Diary of a Wimpy Kid creator, Jeff Kinney ’93.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Kinney since becoming president, and I have no doubt that he will have inspiring words of advice to share with our graduates from his time at UMD and beyond. As an illustrator, best-selling author and fellow Terp, we are glad to welcome him back to campus to be part of such a monumental day for our graduates.
A proud Terp and visionary creative
A cartoonist and best-selling children’s author, Kinney is the creator of the worldwide Diary of a Wimpy Kid phenomenon that has sold hundreds of millions of books and been adapted for both film and television.
Born and raised in Maryland by a family of UMD graduates, he is a proud Terp who originally dreamed of becoming a newspaper cartoonist. Kinney studied computer science before earning a degree in criminology and criminal justice. He gained notoriety at UMD for his “Igdoof” strip in The Diamondback that satirized College Park life through the adventures of its titular awkward character.
The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, packed with Kinney’s distinctive stick-figure doodles, was an instant bestseller in 2007, and exponential success followed for each entry in the series. A permanent fixture on The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, Kinney has sold more than 250 million copies around the world in 79 editions in 65 languages. Kinney has also served as producer on several films and most recently worked on a new, animated adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, book 1, which will premiere on Disney+ on Dec. 3.
Kinney, who Time has also listed among the most influential people in the world, has won numerous national and international awards, including two Children’s Choice Book Awards and six Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for Favorite Book.
Our 2021 graduates have shown extraordinary resilience and strength while adapting to new ways of learning and connecting with their peers. I am thrilled that we now have the opportunity to celebrate our graduates in person, and look forward to welcoming them, along with their families and friends, to the XFINITY Center on Monday, December 20, 2021 at 4 p.m. for the campuswide commencement ceremony. Individual college and school ceremonies will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday Dec. 22.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland