New York Times best-selling fantasy, science fiction author to ‘make magic’ as UVU’s 2023 commencement speaker

Utah Valley University (UVU) today announced New York Times bestselling fantasy and science fiction author and Utah resident Brandon Sanderson will “make magic” as the university’s spring commencement speaker on May 4, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in the UCCU Center on UVU’s Orem Campus.

Sanderson will also receive an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters. Three others will receive honorary degrees at the same commencement ceremony, to be announced at a later date. Convocations for UVU’s eight colleges and schools will be held that same day from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

“We are thrilled Brandon Sanderson accepted our invitation to speak at UVU’s 2023 commencement ceremony,” said Astrid S. Tuminez, president of UVU. “As an internationally renowned writer, he is a tremendous example of someone who has pursued his dreams with passion and optimism. We look forward to experiencing his magical storytelling skills, with sage career and life-success advice, as we celebrate our graduates’ hard work and accomplishments.”

Sanderson is best known for his fictional universe, the Cosmere, which is the setting for most of his fantasy novels, including the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive series. He is also known across the writing world for a successful 2022 Kickstart campaign that saw 185,341 backers pledge $41,754,153 for a new book series. According to USA Today, the campaign is the largest in Kickstarter history by pledge volume and is more than double the previous record holder.

A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Sanderson attributes the beginning of his career to an astute junior high school teacher named Mrs. Reeder, who introduced him to a science fiction-fantasy book by Barbara Hambly called “Dragonsbane.” His journey after immersing himself in that book speaks for itself.

While a full-time student, he worked as a hotel night clerk because his boss allowed him to write when it was slow. He finished seven novels while earning a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in creative writing. After hours and hours of hard work and many rejection letters, his career took off. To date, he has written 54 books published in 35 languages. Sanderson has been on the New York Times Best Seller list 19 times, which means he has published, on average, three books or novels annually over 18 years, a rarity in the publishing industry.