KENT, Ohio– Kent State University has tapped former student and Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Keaton for its spring commencement speaker.
The ceremony is set for May 12 and is Kent State’s second university-wide commencement.
“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,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren in a news release on Monday. “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.”
Keaton was a journalism major at Kent State in 1971 before moving on to pursue an acting career.
He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 2014’s “Birdman.” His career spans four decades, starring as the title characters in “Beetlejuice” and “Batman.”
“I am looking forward to coming back and taking part in Kent State’s Commencement ceremony,” Keaton said. “It’s truly an honor for me, and I hope by taking part I can inspire others to pursue their dreams.”
Last year’s commencement speaker was Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer.
Keaton will be paid the same as Spencer, $100,000. According to a spokesman for the university:
“The speaker’s fee for Michael Keaton’s appearance is being covered by unrestricted private funds. No money will come from taxpayers or students’ tuition. Our students and alumni are already excited to hear Mr. Keaton’s message of moving from a wide-eyed young performer on our Kent Campus in the early 1970s to an Oscar-nominated lead actor in demand across Hollywood.
America’s premier universities routinely bring in top-notch speakers to inspire their graduates with messages of accomplishment as they head into the real world. The media coverage of last year’s speaker, Octavia Spencer, was shared in all 50 states and parts of Europe. With more than four decades of noteworthy performances, the interest in Mr. Keaton’s message to our graduates will likely reach even further.”