Writer, actor and filmmaker Turk Pipkin will be the speaker for the COFA Spring Commencement held in Bass Concert Hall on May 17, 2013.
"Turk Pipkin is an inspiring example of a successful artist who has shown the energy and creativity to give back in socially conscientious ways. He's a fine example of what COFA would aspire to for our graduates of 2013 and beyond," said Douglas Dempster, Dean of the College of Fine Arts.
Pipkin is a co-founder of the global education nonprofit The Nobelity Project and the director of three feature documentaries about global problems and solutions - Nobelity, One Peace at a Time and Building Hope. A SXSW Audience Award winner, Building Hope tells the story of the Nobelity Project's partnership with a rural Kenyan community to build the area's first high school. In addition to his work on film for The Nobelity Project, Turk also oversees the nonprofit's partner projects in Kenya, Nepal, Honduras and the U.S., and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Skoll World Forum of Social Entrepreneurs.
Turk is also the author of ten works of fiction and nonfiction, including the NY Times bestseller, The Tao of Willie, co-authored with Willie Nelson. The film version of his novel When Angels Sing, starring Harry Connick, Jr., Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Connie Britton, had a world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Fest. Turk's work as an actor includes The Alamo, Friday Night Lights, Waiting for Guffman and a recurring role in HBO's The Sopranos.
“Three generations on each side of our family dating back to the 1930's attended UT,” said Pipkin. “They went on to become doctors, professors, lawyers, investment bankers, artists and filmmakers - we've spanned it all. Nowourdaughter Katie Rose Pipkin is graduating with a BFA from the College of Fine Arts this year and our daughter Lily who is enrolled to begin Plan II next fall.”
Past COFA commencement speakers have included UT alumni Barbara Smith Conrad, celebrated MET opera singer, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and producer Elliott Forrest.