Nick Offerman to speak at commencement ceremony

Nick Offerman, University alumnus, announced in a video on the University’s Facebook page that he will be this year’s commencement speaker.

Offerman graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He is an actor and producer, and he is known for his television and film roles in “Parks and Recreation,” “The Founder” and “Fargo,” according to IMDb’s website.

The University has been building the announcement suspense on social media.

A hint was made on April 21 on Twitter, referring to Nick Offerman’s character, Ron Swanson, on the television show “Parks and Recreation.”

Offerman recently visited the University’s Japan House during the fundraiser, “Whisky, Wood and Barbecue.” In 2013, Offerman designed and dedicated a gazebo at the Japan House to his professor and mentor Shozo Sato.

Former Vice President of ISG and senior in LAS, Alex Villanueva, said that Offerman was initially chosen by the commencement committee when he was first invited in the fall, but that they had some communication issues and thought he couldn’t speak.

“When it became clear that we would not likely have President Obama, the Chancellor reached out to (Offerman) and said he would be happy to do it,” Villanueva said.

 Villanueva said that because Offerman is a distinguished alum, they are delighted to have him share his story with this year’s graduating class.

Emma Basdeckis, sophomore in LAS, thinks that students who’ve watched Offerman’s show will like to see him, but she hopes his speech will still remain serious due to the occasion.

“But at the same time, I’m (sure) there will be some comedic bits thrown in,” Basdeckis said.

Basdeckis said that it will probably be inspiring for students to see an alumnus who has pursued his passion and has gained success from it.

Maureen Sanderson, junior in LAS, believes this choice is the best for the Class of 2017.

“They deserve it. Watch us (juniors) get some anonymous speaker we’ve never even heard of,” Sanderson said. “I used to be an acting major, so we always talked about Nick Offerman, about being an alum of the acting program, and they talked about his work in the University and what he’s doing now. I just have such great opinions about his work.”

Sanderson said that is respectable to see Offerman as an active alumnus.

“(His speech is) definitely going to have a beautiful integration of his sense of humor and actual life advice that can be applied to all aspects of what the graduates are going through.” Sanderson said. “So, I think it’s going to be both hilarious and heartfelt.”

The commencement ceremony will be held at Memorial Stadium on May 13.

A previous version of this article referred to Offerman as Swanson in one instance. The Daily Illini regrets this error.

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