Actress Glenn Close to speak at Class of 2019 commencement


The College of William and Mary has announced that Glenn Close ’74, D.A. ’89 will speak at the 2019 commencement ceremony May 11. She will receive an honorary fellowship during the ceremony, only the third person to receive this distinction. Joining her as speakers at the ceremony will be philanthropist Jane Batten, singer Denyce Graves and women’s rights activist Sybil Shainwald ’48, who will all also receive honorary degrees.

Commencement also marks the culmination of the College’s yearlong commemoration of 100 years of coeducation. Therefore, the College chose to have four accomplished female speakers to represent this milestone.

“It is our great pleasure to welcome these four accomplished women to William & Mary for Commencement, and especially fitting to mark our 100th anniversary of coeducation with the rare distinction of an honorary fellowship,” Rowe said in a written statement. “This quartet has made their marks in the arts, philanthropy, law and women’s health; they exemplify the creative, pioneering spirit we have been celebrating throughout the year. I very much look forward to sharing the day with them.”

The speakers are all well-known for their various endeavors. Batten is an advocate for early childhood education and involved in many regional foundation boards. Graves is best known for her titular role in the opera “Carmen,” and has performed in a myriad of genres. Shainwald has represented women in thousands of cases against harmful pharmaceutical drugs.

Close, an acclaimed actress, will join the ranks of Prince Charles of Wales and Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, the only other people who have received an honorary fellowship from the College.

During her time at the College, Close double majored in theater and anthropology while performing in many on campus productions. She has returned to the College previously to support the arts and participate in 100 years of coeducation events. She also narrated the short movie “Her Story,” which told the story of women at the College.


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