Carnegie Mellon University
April 27, 2012

Press Release: Actor Patrick Wilson Returns to Alma Mater Carnegie Mellon University To Give 2012 Commencement Keynote

Award-Winning CMU Dietrich College Student Caroline Kessler Also Will Address Graduates

Contact: Teresa Thomas/ 412-268-2900 /

Patrick WilsonPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Patrick Wilson (A'95) will deliver CMU's keynote address for its 115th Commencement at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 20 in Gesling Stadium. Wilson, a critically acclaimed, award-winning actor, was most recently seen in Paramount Pictures' Young Adult and also starring in the CBS drama, A Gifted Man.

"The breadth and depth of Patrick's work demonstrates to our graduating seniors that education, and perseverance beget success," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "We are grateful to have Patrick back on campus for this important occasion."

Wilson has deep roots at Carnegie Mellon. He has been a trustee of the university since 2009 and serves on its Education Affairs and Enrollment Committee. His continuing dedication to the university, and his demonstrated pride as a member of the university community, has helped generate even broader awareness of Carnegie Mellon. He is married to actress Dagmara Dominczyk (A'98), who is also a Carnegie Mellon School of Drama graduate.

"I'm delighted to meet and speak with the very distinguished and accomplished class of 2012," Wilson said. "Who knows, the paths ahead might lead any one of this year's graduates back to CMU to serve as the keynote speaker at commencement someday."

Wilson began his career on the stage, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, as well as a Drama Desk Award nomination, for his work in the 2002 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! Wilson has appeared in numerous feature films including Little Children, The Ledge, The A Team, Watchmen, The Phantom of the Opera, The Alamo, and Insidious, the highest grossing horror film of 2011. He received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations as Best Supporting Actor for his work on the HBO miniseries, Angels in America. He is currently at work filming The Conjuring, scheduled for release in 2013.  

Creative Writing Major Featured as 2012 Student Speaker

Caroline KesslerJoining Wilson on stage at commencement will be Caroline Kessler, a December 2011 graduate of the Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences with a creative writing major and religious studies minor. A native of Woodstock, Md., she is a recipient of two academic scholarships, a Carnegie Mellon University Press Poetry Prize, and English Department writing awards for poetry and fiction.

Kessler has traveled to Carnegie Mellon's campus in Qatar as part of the university's IMPAQT (Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Ties) program, spent a semester studying in India and a summer working with a human rights organization in Poland.

CMU To Award Five Honorary Degrees

It is a Carnegie Mellon tradition to award honorary degrees at commencement to exemplary leaders, whose life and work serve as an inspiration for Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff. The diversity of this year's candidates represents the intersection of art and technology, a university hallmark.

Receiving honorary degrees will be:
  • Renée Fleming, famed soprano, will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts.
  • Temple Grandin, whose achievements as an autistic child and young woman were the subject of an HBO film, will be awarded a Doctor of Science and Technology.
  • Ruth Gruber, a humanitarian whose heroism is celebrated in the 2010 documentary Ahead of Time, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.
  • Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, will be presented with a Doctor of Business Practice.
  • Richard P. Simmons, chairman of the board, emeritus, of Allegheny Technologies Incorporated and former CEO of Allegheny Ludlum, will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology.

Learn more about the honorary degree recipients at

CMU's 2012 commencement ceremony will include nearly 4,000 graduates and approximately 10,000 attendees. The commencement ceremony will be webcast at