Hank Azaria to speak at 2016 Commencement

Hank Azaria (A '87) is this year's Commencement ceremony speaker. Courtesy Hank Azaria's staff

Actor, voice actor, comedian and producer Hank Azaria (LA ’88) is set to deliver this year’s Commencement address on Sunday, May 22.

Azaria, who has won five Emmys and a Screen Actors Guild Award, is currently featured in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” and is scheduled to star in Thomas Kail’s off-Broadway play “Dry Powder” in the fall. He is also known for his many voice roles in “The Simpsons” and his dramatic roles in films such as “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “Uprising.”

The speaker studied drama and psychology during his undergraduate career here at Tufts, according to a 2004 feature in the Tufts Magazine.  

In the feature, Azaria explained that he almost did not graduate from Tufts, after falling short of requirements to graduate with his class by two credits when he discovered his passion for drama.

“I lost my concentration for academics,” he told the Tufts Magazine. “My heart was into pursuing acting and theater. I missed classes, got incompletes. I was a mess. But I showed up for rehearsal on time.”

However, with pressure from his mother, he said he took classes at the University of California, Los Angeles to complete his Tufts drama major in 1988. 

Hank Azaria is truly a one-of-a-kind talent whose creativity has given pleasure to millions and demonstrated the power of the dramatic arts in our lives. We are proud to call him a Jumbo,” University President Anthony Monaco said in a statement released by Tufts’ Public Relations department. “We are delighted that he will come back to campus to address our graduates, their families and the university.”

In addition to speaking at the Commencement, Azaria will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. In 1999, the alumnus was also awarded Tufts’ Light on the Hill Award, which is the highest award bestowed by undergraduate student upon alumni, according to the Tufts Alumni page. 

Five other individuals will receive honorary degrees at the Commencement, including sculptor Janet Echelman as an honorary doctor of fine arts, founding member and former President of Physicians for Human Rights H. Jack Geiger as an honorary doctor of public service, entrepreneur and Trustee Emeritus Martin Granoff as an honorary doctor of public service, actress Sonia Manzano as an honorary doctor of fine arts and President Emerita and Senior Scholar of Facing History and Ourselves Margot Stern Strom as an honorary doctor of humane letters.

According to the University Commencement website, the Board of Trustee’s Honorary Degree Committee reviewed nominations for these awards. The Tufts community was able to submit nominations beginning in the spring semester of 2015.

Huffington Post Co-Founder Arianna Huffington is also scheduled to speak at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s Class Day Ceremony on Saturday, May 21.


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