Author and MSNBC news show host Rachel Maddow will appear with broadcaster Pat Thurston at the Morris Daily Auditorium Feb. 25 to accept the John Steinbeck Award. First presented in 1996, previous recipients include Bruce Springsteen, Dolores Huerta, Arthur Miller, Joan Baez, Garrison Keillor, Sean Penn and Michael Moore.

Presented by the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University, recipients of the award are “writers and artists whose work captures the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and beliefs in the dignity of people who by circumstance are pushed to the fringes.”

Maddow grew up in Castro Valley and studied public policy at Stanford, where she graduated with honors. She was the first openly gay recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, and later went on to earn her Doctor of Philosophy in politics from Oxford University in 2001. Her thesis, titled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons, focused on improving conditions in prisons for inmates living with HIV.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show debuted in 2008, and Maddow has since become one of the most recognizable voices in liberal political punditry. Throughout her career, Maddow has interviewed high-profile political figures, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Jimmy Carter.

Maddow’s civil demeanor and strong commitment to presenting a wide scope of political issues has made conservative commentators accessible to MSNBC’s liberal viewers, and she frequently interviews right-wing political figures such as former National Republican Committee Chairman Michael Steele, former communications chief during the George W. Bush administration Nicolle Wallace, and former McCain-Palin Senior Campaign Advisor Steve Schmidt.

“My father would have adored Rachel Maddow,” said Thomas Steinbeck, John Steinbeck’s son, who serves as a board member of the Center for Steinbeck Studies and presents the award yearly. “Listening to Rachel Maddow is like listening to Walter Cronkite. We have that kind of trust in her. When I watch Rachel Maddow, I feel like I’m part of an alliance. I hope she’s in it for the long haul, because we really need her.”

Tickets are still available for Rachel Maddow’s acceptance of the John Steinbeck Award.