WILLIAMSBURG — Award-winning comedian, writer, actor and alumnus Patton Oswalt will speak at William & Mary’s Commencement ceremony on May 19.
Oswalt, known for his role in “King of Queens” and as the voice of Remy in the movie “Ratatouille,” will receive an honorary degree at the event, scheduled for 7 p.m. in Zable Stadium.
“I would like a bag of bread ends and dip from the Cheese Shop for my services. Thank you,” Oslwalt said when asked about giving the commencement keynote at his alma mater.
Oswalt started performing in comedy clubs as a student at William & Mary, where he wrote for The Flat Hat and was a member of Phi Kappa Tau and the fencing club. After graduating with a degree in English, he embarked on a career in entertainment, earning accolades for his more than 200 TV and film credits as well as comedy specials and books. Oswalt has remained closely connected to the university, recently providing a video message to the Class of 2020 during its virtual degree-conferral ceremony. In 2021, he collaborated with Alma Mater Productions to present a virtual “Night with Patton Oswalt” for students.
Henry C. “Hank” Wolf ’64, J.D. ’66, a former W&M rector and retired chief financial officer of Norfolk Southern, will also receive an honorary degree.
Wolf has been a stalwart supporter of William & Mary throughout the years and supported scholarships at the university, particularly W&M Law School, whose library bears his name, and the Muscarelle Museum of Art.
In addition to his service to W&M, Wolf has been active in a number of other community organizations and institutions of higher education.
Year of the Arts
Both honorary degree recipients have strong ties to the arts, which the university noted is fitting as it anticipates a significant transformation in campus facilities for its Arts Quarter.
New fine and performing arts facilities are expected to open this fall, with dance joining theatre in the newly renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and music moving into its own new building. Construction continues on The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts, which will house the expanded Muscarelle Museum of Art when completed late next year.
“We have in Patton Oswalt and Hank Wolf two superstar alumni,” said William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe. “They have flourished in entertainment and law, starting from a wide-ranging liberal arts preparation. As leaders in our community, they have answered alma mater’s call so often — to lift the next generation of entrepreneurially minded professionals.
“We are especially proud to honor these creative alumni during W&M’s Year of the Arts.”
Along with Oswalt and Wolf, W&M Chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98, will attend the Commencement ceremony and provide brief remarks.
Tickets, which are provided to graduating students, are required to attend. The ceremony will also be livestreamed.