Maryland Today | Jeff Kinney ’93, creator of ‘Wimpy Kid’, will address …


Author and illustrator Jeff Kinney ’93 will deliver the University of Maryland’s winter 2021 keynote address on December 20, the university announced today. He will address thousands of graduates, their family and friends during the ceremony at Xfinity Center.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Kinney since I became President, and I have no doubt that he will have some inspiring advice to share with our graduates since his time at UMD and beyond,” said said UMD President Darryll J. Pins. “As an illustrator, bestselling author and colleague Terp, we are happy to welcome him back to campus to be part of such a monumental day for our graduates.”

Children’s designer and bestselling author, Kinney is the creator of the world Diary of a Wimpy Child phenomenon that has sold hundreds of millions of books and has been adapted for film and television.

“My experiences at the University of Maryland helped shape me and set me on the path that I am today,” Kinney said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to return to my alma mater and speak to the next generation of leaders, creators and innovators as they prepare for what is to come. “

Born and raised in Maryland by a family of UMD graduates, he is a proud Terp who originally dreamed of becoming a cartoonist. Kinney studied computer science before earning a degree in criminology and criminal justice. He gained notoriety at UMD for his band “Igdoof” in The Diamondback which satirized the life of College Park through the adventures of its titular goofy character.

He held software and website design positions while trying to get a syndication deal and brainstorm for a book on a college weakling named Greg Heffley. Kinney began posting daily installments on in 2004 – garnering up to 70,000 readers per day – and two years later he signed a multi-book deal with publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc. to transform Diary of a Wimpy Kid in a series of books.

The first book, filled with Kinney’s signature scribbles, was an instant bestseller in 2007, and exponential success followed for every entry in the series. A permanent fixture on the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, Kinney has sold over 250 million copies worldwide in 79 editions in 65 languages. Kinney has also been a producer on several films and recently worked on a new animated adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Child, volume 1, which will be broadcast on Disney + on December 3.

Kinney is also the creator of Poptropica, an online site where millions of children have explored and played games to learn history and develop problem-solving skills. He was named one of the Time 50 best magazine websites.

Kinney, who Time has also been among the world’s most influential people, winning numerous national and international awards including two Children’s Choice Book Awards and six Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for Favorite Book.

He and his wife have two sons and own an independent bookstore and cafe in Massachusetts called An Improbable Story.

More details on the campus-wide ceremony are available at


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