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IU alumnus, New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz to deliver graduation speech

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Apr. 10, 2008 

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IU alumnus Will Shortz knew at a young age that he was a “puzzle head.”

The 1974 graduate, who now works as the New York Times crossword editor, will give the commencement address for IU Bloomington’s graduation ceremony May 3.

Shortz said he will deliver a short and interactive address complete with puzzles. When asked what advice he is going to give the audience, Shortz said he will explain the importance of “finding something that you love and following your dreams.”

Shortz, the only graduate of any academic institution in the world to hold a degree in enigmatology, which is the art of making and solving enigmas, starred as himself in the 2006 film “Wordplay,” which documents his life as a crossword genius. He was rated by Esquire magazine as one of “The 100 Best People in the World” and wrote riddles for the 1995 movie “Batman Forever.”

Shortz was born in Crawfordsville, Ind., and showed interest in puzzles from a very young age. He was a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications by the age of 16. He received his degree from IU’s Individualized Major Program in 1974 and then went on to graduate from the University of Virginia Law School in 1977.

Shortz said IU’s Individualized Major Program allowed him to become an expert and knowledgeable in both the history and theories of puzzles, while gaining the respect of earning his degree. While at IU, Shortz was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, where he was the president of the house his senior year.

“I made life-long friends while becoming more outgoing,” Shortz said.

Shortz described his fondest memories at IU as spending weeks at both the Main and Lilly Library researching the major that he eventually created. He credits the quality of his professors and the immense resources available to him at the library for his preparation for later success in life.

Tom Martz, president and chief executive officer of the IU Alumni Association, said he has heard that Shortz is an entertaining speaker and believes he will inspire the class of 2008.

Shortz went on to be the editor at Games magazine, while founding the first ever American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and served as captain of the World Puzzle Championship. While working at the Times and National Public Radio, Shortz has written and edited more than 200 books of crosswords, Sudoku and other puzzles. He is also the publisher of the weekly edition of crosswords on National Public Radio, heard by 500 stations across the country every Sunday.

Shortz said no day for him is typical, as he has the luxury of working from home, which gives him freedom. Every week he receives 75-100 crossword submissions from which he selects the best ones, which he edits and publishes in the next edition of the Times crossword.

Shortz will deliver both commencement speeches: the morning session at 10 a.m. and the afternoon session at 3 p.m.

 

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