Denison University has announced that actor, advocate, and businessperson Jennifer Garner, a member of the Denison Class of 1994, will serve as the keynote speaker at the college’s 178th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18. At the ceremony, Garner will be recognized with the conferring of an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
The Commencement ceremony is a ticketed event. Tickets are free to graduating seniors and their families. Denison is committed to making sure that all graduating senior family members will be accommodated. The Commencement Ceremony will be streamed live online for the public on the day of the event.
Garner is an internationally acclaimed actor and advocate for children, serving as a trustee for Save the Children since 2008. She also recently co-founded the organic-food company Once Upon a Farm with the goal of providing children with high-quality, nutritious food that is produced using sustainable methods.
Denison University President Adam Weinberg said, “Denison is proud to recognize the contributions of Jennifer Garner to the arts and to the lives of children. Through her work on stage and screen, Jennifer has inspired and enlightened, entertained and educated. She has given us characters that help bridge our differences and bring understanding to a complex world. In her work as an advocate for Save the Children, she has studied the issues, visited children in their homes, and testified before Congress. We are delighted to honor her accomplishments and proud to call her a Denisonian.”
Garner studied theatre at Denison and quickly onboarded into her field, working in regional productions before heading to New York, then Los Angeles and her first major role as Sydney Bristow in the hit television show Alias in 2001, for which she received four consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She also earned four Golden Globe nominations for her role in Alias, winning the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama in 2002. She also was nominated for three Screen Actors Guild Awards for Alias and her portrayal of Dr. Eve Saks in The Dallas Buyers Club, winning for the former in 2005.
Garner’s understanding of the afflictions of childhood poverty led her to become an advocate for Save the Children, an organization that is on the front lines of emergency and humanitarian responses around the world. And her work focusing on children has continued to expand. She was an advocate for the Children’s Defense Fund in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza campaign, and a prominent advocate and spokesperson for California Senate Bill 606, which became law in 2013 and protects the privacy of children in the state. In addition, Garner contributed the essay, “Turning Poverty Around: Training Parents to Help Their Kids,” to The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, edited by Maria Shriver and published by the Center for American Progress in 2014.