Actor, U Of I Alumnus Offerman To Give Commencement Speech
Actor and alumnus Nick Offerman will be the commencement speaker for the University of Illinois' Urbana campus on May 13. The selection was confirmed late Tuesday afternoon with a short video of Offerman posted to the U of I's Facebook page. In the video, Offerman took on the mannerisms of Ron Swanson, the character he played on the TV show "Parks and Recreation."
He promised his commencement speech would explore such "mysteries" as why the university uses "Urbana-Champaign" in its name, although it is located in Champaign-Urbana.
Offerman, a native of Minooka, Illinois, he received his bachelor's degree in theatre at the University of Illinois in 1993.
“Nick Offerman found success as an actor and also found a lifelong mentor while an Illinois theatre student,” Chancellor Robert Jones told the News Bureau at the U of I. “His story is an example of the power of a U. of I. education to shape the lives of our students and help them find their place in the world. He has maintained close ties with his alma mater, and he’s done it all with a sense of humor. We’re proud to have him serve as our 2017 commencement speaker.”
Offerman is also an accomplished woodworker, having learned basic carpentry from his father. He used those skills building sets in the scene shop at the U of I. Offerman also enrolled in a Kabuki theater class taught by U of I Japan House founder Shozo Sato, and traveled to Japan with Sato's Kabuki troupe.
He frequently returns to campus for special events and fundraisers, including an April 1 "Whiskey, Wood & Barbeque" fundraiser for Japan House.
Aside from "Parks and Recreation", Offerman's list of TV and film credits include "Fargo," "The Lego Movie," and "The Simpsons." His next project is a six-episide reality series he'll host with Amy Poehler called "The Hanmade Project."
The commencement ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. on May 13.