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John Douglas Thompson '85 Named as Le Moyne’s 2014 Commencement Speaker


John Douglas Thompson ‘85, widely regarded as one of the world’s most talented classical actors, will be the commencement speaker at Le Moyne College’s 64th commencement ceremony. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 18, at 9:30 a.m. on the Le Moyne campus.

The selection of Thompson follows a process that included a call for nominations from a variety of groups, including students, alumni, and members of the College’s various boards. He will also receive an honorary degree at the ceremony.

Also receiving an honorary degree will be Virginia “Ginny” Donahue, a 1969 graduate of Le Moyne College and founder of On Point for College. In 1999, Donohue left a corporate career to found the organization, which for the past 15 years has helped more than 4,600 first-generation youth to get into college, stay there, and succeed afterwards. On Point for College has been recognized for best practices in the nation by the National College Access Network and the Lumina Foundation for Education. In 2008, the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce named On Point for College Non-Profit of the Year.

Thompson has appeared on Broadway alongside Denzel Washington in Julius Caesar; earned critical acclaim for his work in the title role in Othello; and was named one of the “Top 20 Reasons to Love New York” by New York Magazine in 2010. This spring he will portray jazz-legend Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf off Broadway, reprising a role he originally held in the summer of 2012 at Shakespeare and Co. in Lennox, Mass. Thompson’s television credits include Law and Order and Law and Order Special Victims Unit, and his film credits include Michael Clayton and The Bourne Legacy.

While at Le Moyne, Thompson, didn’t plan to become an actor. He studied business on the Heights, working in sales and marketing for the global technology company Unisys for several years before studying acting at the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, R.I. He graduated from Trinity in 1994.

Thompson has performed the title roles in Emperor Jones, Richard III and Macbeth, earning outstanding reviews from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Variety, among others. He also appeared in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Los Angeles’ Marc Taper Forum. In the fall of 2013, Thompson appeared on Broadway in the stage adaptation of John Grisham’s novel A Time to Kill.

posted on: 3/19/2014