James Patterson

In this Aug. 30, 2016, file photo, author James Patterson poses for a portrait in New York. Patterson has renewed a most welcome holiday publishing tradition, bonuses for independent bookstore employees. The best-selling author announced Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, that 333 workers each will receive $750. The winners, nominated by customers and colleagues among others, are listed on the web site of the American Booksellers Association. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

One of the world’s bestselling authors will join Gator graduates in The Swamp this Spring.

James Patterson will make a 15-minute speech for free at the university-wide Spring commencement ceremony on May 4 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, said Stephanie McBride, the UF director of commencement. Patterson has sold more than 375 million copies of his books worldwide, including titles “The President is Missing” and “Along Came a Spider.” He also donated $3 million to UF’s College of Education last year.

At the ceremony, Patterson will also receive an honorary degree to acknowledge his involvement with the university, McBride said.

“It’s a name people know, and he has a connection to UF and to Florida, which is super important to us,” McBride said.

UF selected him because of his connection to improving child literacy rates, which his donation to the education college aimed to help, McBride said.

Bringing big-name speakers with a UF connection to commencement was one of the reasons the university transitioned to a university-wide graduation ceremony last Spring, McBride said.

Paige Fitzpatrick, a 22-year-old UF early childhood education master’s student, is a recipient of the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship. She will graduate in May and will speak alongside Patterson.

“I am honored to speak alongside the person who made my dreams in education possible,” Fitzpatrick said.

Karina is the city commission reporter and a second-year journalism major with a passion for storytelling and graphic design.