Retired UNC professor and Grammy winner Bill Ferris will be this year's winter commencement speaker. Ferris is known at UNC and beyond for his work documenting the American South and commitment to life-long learning.
Ferris' “Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris,” a multimedia collection including blues and gospel music, won Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes at the Grammy Awards in February.
“Chancellor Guskiewicz called me and asked if I would be a commencement speaker and I told him I would be deeply honored,” Ferris said. “I was overwhelmed and honored.”
Ferris and his wife came to UNC from Washington, D.C. in 2002. He became senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and an adjunct professor in the folklore curriculum in the history department. Ferris has written 10 books and now co-edits the “Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.”
Ferris’ research focused on musicians, writers, photographers and quilt makers in the American South, especially Mississippi, where he grew up. His recordings and archives are now housed in the Southern Folklife Collection in Wilson Library.