University of Illinois Announces Nick Offerman Will Be 2017 Commencement Speaker

After months of speculation, the University of Illinois revealed Tuesday that actor Nick Offerman will deliver the college’s 2017 commencement address. 

For weeks, the university built excitement surrounding the highly anticipated announcement with a series of tweets teasing who it will be addressing graduates at the ceremony next month. [[420348373, C]] 

"May want to pick up extra tickets for Commencement this year ... (sharing who our #ILLINOIS2017 speaker is April 25!)" one tweet read.

The school made the announcement in a video posted to its Facebook and Twitter pages, featuring Offerman, himself a U of I alumnus, addressing students directly. [[420410974, C]]

"The university is called the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, although it's located in the community of Champaign-Urbana," Offerman said. "I hope to explore this and other mysteries when I speak to you at your commencement this year 2017, and thank you in advance for having me." 

An actor, author and woodworker, the Minooka, Illinois, native graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre from the school in 1993. 

Perhaps best known for his role as Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation," Offerman has visited his alma mater several times in recent years, the university said in a release. 

He was on campus April 1 for a “Whiskey, Wood & Barbecue” fundraiser that included a raffle of items from Offerman Woodshop, and he brought his “American Ham Tour” to the school in 2013 - both to benefit the school's Japan House in honor of his mentor, Professor Shozo Sato, with whom he traveled to Japan as part of Sato's Kabuki troupe. 

“Nick Offerman found success as an actor and also found a lifelong mentor while an Illinois theatre student,” Chancellor Robert Jones said in a release. “His story is an example of the power of a U. of I. education to shape the lives of our students and help them find their place in the world. He has maintained close ties with his alma mater, and he’s done it all with a sense of humor. We’re proud to have him serve as our 2017 commencement speaker.”

Many had previously speculated that former President Barack Obama would fill the coveted role after the university officially invited him in March with a video featuring several students asking the Chicago native to deliver their graduation speech. [[420355283, C]]

While the former president never officially issued a response, many on social media expressed excitement over Offerman's appearance Tuesday, with hundreds of responses from students and alumni alike looking forward to the event. 

The University of Illinois will hold its commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2017, and the ceremony will be streamed live. 

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