LMC announces 64th commencement speaker – actor and alum John Douglas Thompson


Aubrey Zych, Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Le Moyne announced that the keynote speaker for the college’s 64th commencement will be John Douglas Thompson [‘85], Le Moyne alum and award-winning actor. Thompson was selected to speak after numerous nominations from students, alumni and faculty.

Thompson’s history with Le Moyne dates back to the 80’s when he first attended school here. While here, he studied business and went on to work in sales and marketing for the global technology company, Unisys. Years later, Thompson attended Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, R.I. to begin his acting career. He graduated from Trinity in 1994, and immediately hit the stage. He has performed the title roles in Emperor Jones, Richard III and Macbeth. He has also made appearances 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. His most recent show took place in the fall of 2013 in the stage adaptation of John Grisham’s novel, A Time to Kill.

Thompson has also made appearances on screen in television shows including Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Conviction; the short film, Midway; the legal drama, Michael Clayton; and The Bourne Legacy. Thompson will also make an appearance in the short film, Day Ten, coming out later this year.

Thompson has been praised for his work by reviewers around the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Variety.

Many seniors were excited to hear of Thompson taking the stage this May at commencement. Some had to Google the actor to know who he was. But most were just relieved he had any affiliation with Le Moyne at all.

“He’s definitely an upgrade over last year,” senior Nate Reynolds said. “He is a Le Moyne grad, so he knows what Le Moyne is all about.”

Last year’s commencement speaker was Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, an unpopular pick for many Le Moyne seniors who at the time said they try to remain independent from the larger Syracuse-area school. Many seniors at the time expressed their discontent for the SU speaker, and worked with administration to ensure the following years would have speakers that more students could relate to. Since then, the college has asked students for nominations and suggestions for future speakers.

Some students had still never heard of Thompson, but were happy when they had learned his story.

“I had to look him up, but I’m happy he’s at least from Le Moyne,” senior Becca Wolf said.

Many students involved in the theater arts scene at Le Moyne were especially excited to hear Thompson speak.

Senior Tommy Barrett said being a big broadway fan, he looks forward most to “hearing someone [he] can relate to.”

Thompson will take the graduation stage next May with one senior student speaker, which will be decided and announced later in the semester. More information about the graduation day as it grows closer can be found on lemoyne.edu/commencement.


Kerrigan Coyle contributed to this report.