Actor Michael Keaton to deliver commencement address at Kent State University

February 12, 2018

Actor Michael Keaton to deliver commencement address at Kent State University

KENT, Ohio - Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton, who attended Kent State University in 1971, will return to campus May 12 to deliver the university-wide commencement address.

“Michael Keaton developed big dreams and a passion for bringing his characters to life that was sparked in part by his time at Kent State,” Kent State President Beverly Warren said in a news release. “This is a rare opportunity for our students to hear from someone who has walked in their shoes and now has risen to the top of his field.”

Born about 100 miles from Kent in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Keaton enrolled to major in journalism and speech. His attention and passion shifted to acting, and he went to Pittsburgh before heading to Hollywood.

He quickly found success, landing comedic appearances on such 1970s television staples as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Maude” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.”

Keaton returned to the Kent campus in 1985 to speak at an event in the Kent Student Center.

“I am looking forward to coming back and taking part in Kent State’s Commencement ceremony,” Keaton said in the news release. “It’s truly an honor for me, and I hope by taking part I can inspire others to pursue their dreams.”

Contract details are still being finalized, spokesman Eric Mansfield said. In 2017, the university paid actress Octavia Spencer $100,000 to speak for up to 20 minutes at the first all-university commencement, according to her contract.

The university sought a high-profile speaker to highlight the first time it gathered graduates from the eight-campus system in one place.

All Kent State graduating students and their families are invited to hear Keaton speak at Dix Stadium regardless of whether the student is receiving an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or a doctoral degree from any of the university’s campuses.

The all-university event in Dix Stadium in 2017 did not draw a large crowd and was held in addition to the college ceremonies at the regional and Kent campuses.

This year, no college ceremonies will be held on the Kent campus. Graduating students will cross the stage at Dix Stadium and each will be recognized by name.

Keaton may be best known for his roles as the Caped Crusader in “Batman” and “Batman Returns.” As the star of “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence),” he was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe.

He is one of the few actors whose films, “Birdman” and “Spotlight,” won the Oscar for Best Picture in back-to-back years. Keaton also earned the Best Actor Award from the National Society of Film Critics for “Clean and Sober” and for Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice.”

He recently appeared as Vulture in “Spiderman: Homecoming.”

All guests must have a ticket to enter the ceremony. Graduating students can secure up to six tickets. More information about Kent State’s Commencement will soon be posted on the commencement website.