HARTFORD, CT, May 5, 2011 – Patrick Wilson, a versatile actor whose repertoire ranges from dark and somber Arthur Miller revivals to musical classics such as Carousel, will be the featured speaker at Trinity’s 185th Commencement Exercise on Sunday, May 22.
A native of Virginia who was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Wilson has captivated audiences from HBO viewers to baseball fans, starred in national touring companies, and performed in film and on Broadway. Wilson will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in recognition of his commitment to the craft of acting.
Walter “Wally” Lamb, a teacher, social activist and prize-winning author; Michael Battle ’73, a minister, college official and United States Ambassador to the African Union; and Scott Reynolds ’63, longtime assistant to the president of Trinity will also be given honorary degrees.
After Wilson graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995, he launched his stage career, earning plaudits for his role in Miss Saigon and Carousel. Three years later, he won a Drama League Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his performance in the off-Broadway production of Bright Lights, Big City. Also that year, Wilson made his Broadway debut, earning a Drama League Award for his role in Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm.
In 2001, Wilson won a Drama League Award for his work in The Full Monty, in addition to earning Tony Award and Outer Circle Award nominations. A year later, he was again nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Curly in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma.
Shifting gears, in 2008 Wilson co-starred with John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and Katie Holmes in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
However, Wilson’s work has not been limited to the stage or to the East Coast. He has appeared on television and in feature films, including HBO’s highly acclaimed 2003 adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, for which he merited Emmy, Golden Globe and Satellite nominations.
Among the 20 movies that Wilson has starred in are The Switch, Barry Munday, The A-Team, Evening, Lakeview Terrace, Passengers, Watchmen, Life in Flight, Purple Violets, Running with Scissors, Hard Candy, The Phantom of the Opera, Alamo, and the critically-acclaimed drama Little Children. He was nominated for Satellite awards for his work in The Phantom of the Opera and Little Children.
In 2001, Wilson sang “The Street Where You Live,” from My Fair Lady when Julie Andrews was honored at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. And last fall, he sang “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch of Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.
Lamb will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for creating a body of literature that consistently reminds people how indomitable the human spirit is.
Born and raised in Norwich, CT, Lamb graduated from Norwich Free Academy where he returned to teach for 25 years after graduating with both a B.A. and a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut. Nine years into Lamb’s teaching career, he decided to try his hand at writing fiction. He earned an M.F.A. from Vermont College in 1984.
Lamb’s first novel, She’s Come Undone, is the story of a woman’s ultimate triumph over a life of misery and abuse. The book quickly found a receptive audience and was a bestseller by the time Oprah Winfrey chose it as her book club selection in 1997, vaulting Lamb into the national spotlight. His second widely acclaimed book, I Know This Much Is True, was published in 1998 and also was a Winfrey selection.
In 2008, Lamb’s third novel, The Hour I First Believed, was published; it was followed by Wishin’ and Hopin’.
Although Lamb ended his teaching career at Norwich Free Academy in 1997, he continued teaching. As an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, he directed the English Department’s creative writing program. And at York Correctional Institute, Connecticut’s prison for women, Lamb taught a workshop that was the focus of a segment on CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes and that led to two anthologies of nonfiction: Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters and I’ll Fly Away.
Of his writing, Lamb has said, “I write fiction so that I can move beyond the boundaries and limitations of my own experiences and better understand the lives of others. That’s also why I teach.”
He has been honored with a National Endowment for the Arts grant; the Connecticut Center for the Book’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the Connecticut Bar Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award; the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” Award; the New England Book Award for fiction; and the Kenneth Johnson Memorial Book Award.
Battle will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for building an exceptional career on the foundation of his Trinity education—one marked by scholarship, outstanding leadership, and inspirational public service.
Battle arrived at Trinity as the beneficiary of a scholarship established in memory of Second Lieutenant Michael Getlin, who died during the Vietnam War, a factor that led to Battle’s decision to embark upon a career as a military chaplain – one centered on public service and spiritual strength.
After graduating from Trinity in 1973, Battle earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University and then completed his Doctor of Ministry degree at Howard University. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education; the Millennial Leadership Institute, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; and the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute at Hampton University. In addition, he graduated from the United States Army Reserve Command and General Staff College.
Over the years, Battle enjoyed success as an administrator at some of this country’s finest educational institutions. He was president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta; vice president of Chicago State University; associate vice president of Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia; and dean of the chapel at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, where he also served as pastor of the Hampton University Memorial Church and executive secretary and treasurer of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, the largest interdenominational conference of African-American clergy in the United States. For 20 years, Battle served as a chaplain in the United States Army Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1997.
In addition, Battle served as chair of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center and a member of the United Negro College Fund Institutional Board of Directors, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, and the steering committee of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Congressional Forum. He holds lifetime memberships in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Battle has long been involved with the people and governments of Africa. From 1994 to 1998, he served as vice president of the American Committee on Africa. In 1994 he was an election observer for the first free election in South Africa and, at the same time, served as liaison between the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference and the South African Council of Churches.
And today, as the United States Ambassador to the African Union, Battle serves as the personal representative of President Barack Obama to the African Union. Headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the diplomatic capital of the African continent, the African Union is a multilateral continental body with 53 member nations.
Reynolds will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his long and distinguished service to Trinity College.
Reynolds returned to his alma mater in 1996 to assume the role of assistant to the president. In that post, he performed in an exemplary manner, and in times of both trial and triumph, his wisdom and long view of the institution proved to be invaluable. Reynolds could always be counted on to provide reasoned and disciplined advice.
As a Trinity undergraduate, he distinguished himself as a member of Medusa, the senior honor society; with his election to Pi Gamma Mu; as president of his fraternity, Theta Xi; and as a member of Cerberus, the sophomore honor society. He was a reporter for The Tripod and manager of the freshman basketball and varsity lacrosse teams.
After graduating with a B.A. in economics, Reynolds earned his M.B.A. from Harvard. He then served in the United States Army in the Pentagon in planning and analysis positions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Comptroller of the Army, and the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army.
As a civilian, he enjoyed a distinguished career in banking and finance at Bankers Trust Company. There, he was the founding president of BT Securities. Before returning to Trinity, he served from 1994 to 1996 as assistant to the president of Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City.
In the more than three decades from Reynolds’s graduation until his return to Trinity, he routinely found time to serve the College in various capacities. He was a member of the Board of Fellows, an alumni officer and volunteer, and, from 1992 to 1996, a member of the Board of Trustees and secretary of the Board. Reynolds’s daughter, Jane Reynolds Flynn, is a member of the Class of 1992.
For the past 15 years, he served Trinity in the Office of the President and, twice, as interim vice president for finance. He was elected secretary of the College in 1998. During that period, he consistently provided leadership that was both level-headed and transformational in grappling with some of the most sensitive affairs of the College.
For a complete schedule of Commencement activities, please visit: http://www.trincoll.edu/AboutTrinity/commencement/.