Actor Jeff Daniels, Comedian Nancy Giles to Speak at Kean University Commencements

UNION, N.J. ­–– Emmy Award-winning actor and three-time Tony Award nominee Jeff Daniels, who is currently on Broadway in the critically acclaimed production of To Kill a Mockingbird, will address more than 2,800 students and their families as the featured speaker at Kean University’s Undergraduate Commencement on Thursday, May 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

According to a statement released by Kean University Officials, Comedian, actress, CBS News Sunday Morning contributor and self-described “accidental pundette” Nancy Giles will speak at the Nathan Weiss Graduate College Commencement on Friday, May 17 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

“Each year, we work with student leaders to identify commencement speakers who will inspire our graduates at a pivotal and emotional point in their lives,” said Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., Kean’s president. “Through their work and accomplishments, Jeff Daniels and Nancy Giles exemplify the rich rewards that come from hard work, professionalism and a dedication to their craft.”

Daniels is known to audiences throughout the world for his roles in such films as Terms of Endearment, Dumb and Dumber, and Good Night and Good Luck, as well as his Emmy Award-winning performance on HBO’s The Newsroom. This week he received his third Tony Award nomination for his performance as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s blockbuster adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history. Hailed by critics for his “towering performance” and “unfussy mastery,” Daniels said he considers it the role of a lifetime.

In addition to receiving 2013’s best lead actor in a drama Emmy Award for his work in The Newsroom, Daniels took home a second Emmy in 2018 for his supporting role in Netflix’s Godless. His other Tony-nominated performances came in 2016 for Blackbird and 2009 for God of Carnage. Daniels is the founder of The Purple Rose Theater Company in Chelsea, Michigan and is also a musician and songwriter.

Nancy Giles has been a contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning since 2003, with a unique blend of common sense wisdom, humor, and social and political commentary. As a provocative observer of today’s world, she offers opinions on everything from politics and race to pop culture and the conspiracy of high heels.

A veteran of Chicago’s Second City improv troupe, Giles appeared for three seasons on the TV drama China Beach. She has written and performed one-woman shows, including The Further Adventures of the Accidental Pundette and Notes of a Negro Neurotic and, in her successful voiceover career, is the voice of The Food Network. For more than 20 years, she has volunteered with The 52nd St. Project, helping at-risk kids take part in theatre, poetry workshops and classes.

“At Commencement, we celebrate our students’ achievements and wish them well as they start the next phase of their lives,” said Ada Morell, chair of the Kean University Board of Trustees. “Jeff Daniels and Nancy Giles are outstanding role models for our students, and I expect they will have powerful messages for them and their families.”

Kean University is expected to award more than 2,800 undergraduate degrees and more than 700 graduate degrees at this year’s commencement ceremonies.