AU Press Releases

Bill Pullman to address Alfred University graduates

Bill Pullman, an acclaimed actor and director, will deliver the address at Alfred University’s (AU) annual commencement ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in McLane Center on the AU campus.

His speech, "Sense of Place/ Sense of Purpose", will look at the ramifications of his first grade teacher's comment that any one of the students in her class could one day grow up and become President of the United States.

“We are delighted that Bill Pullman accepted our invitation to be our commencement speaker,” said AU President Charles M. Edmondson. “He will bring to our graduates and their parents a unique perspective – he’s a Hornell, NY, native who has made a name for himself in a very competitive world, but who nourishes his Western New York roots in many ways, including service on the Alfred University Board of Trustees for the past four years.”

The University will bestow a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, upon Pullman, who will be presented for the degree by Peter Cuneo, chair of the Alfred University Board of Trustees.

Pullman made his film debut as Earl Mott in Ruthless People in 1986, and has continued to perform on stage and in film and television productions over the past 25 years. He is currently cast as Oswald Danes, the villain who would not die, in Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth series of the BBC/Starz Entertainment television show which is a spin-off from the long-running Dr. Who television series and will premiere on July 13th. He plays JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in the upcoming HBO movie Too Big To Fail that will premiere on May 25th.

After graduation from Hornell High School in 1971, Pullman attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta, majoring in theater arts, and earned an MFA degree from the University of Massachusetts –Amherst. He taught theater at SUNY Delhi and at Montana State University before deciding, at the age of 28, to move to New York City to pursue an acting career full time.

During the early-to-mid-80’s, he worked with theater companies in New York and Los Angeles, until 1986 when he got his first film role in Ruthless People. Among his best-known films are Spaceballs (1987), A League of Their Own (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), While You Were Sleeping (1995), Independence Day (1996), The Lost Highway (1997), Bottle Shock (2008) and Phoebe in Wonderland (2009).

He has continued to do live theater as well, starring in the Tony award winning 2002 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia, earning him a nomination for the 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

In January 2006, he starred in the Kennedy Center production of The Subject Was Roses, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award as Outstanding Lead Actor. He received a second Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Actor for his role in the off-Broadway production of Albee’s Peter and Jerry.

Pullman wrote and directed Expedition 6, a play about the emergency rescue of two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut from the International Space Station in 2003, shortly after the Columbia Shuttle disaster. He also directed and acted in the TNT movie The Virginian based on the Owen Wister novel that received the NCM Wrangler Award.

Throughout his career, Pullman has maintained close ties to his hometown and this area, including Alfred University. Twice, in 2001 and in 2007, Pullman has delivered lectures and taught classes at the University. In 2007, he joined the Alfred University Board of Trustees and serves on the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and University Relations committees.

His wife Tamara, a professional modern dancer, has taught summer dance workshops at the University. They are the parents of three children: Maesa, Jack and Lewis.