June 10, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 04  

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Christopher Plummer to grads: “Lets hear it for the inmates”

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff
Aaron Lynett/Gazette
“IF I KEEP GRINNING, THEY WON’T KNOW I’M BORED OUT OF MY SKULL.” Christopher Plummer was the man of the hour at Tuesday’s Convocation.

Among the 6,000 graduates leaving Western with a degree this week was distinguished Canadian stage and screen actor Christopher Plummer, the recipient of a honorary doctor of laws degree.

Plummer, in his address after being conferred his degree on Tuesday, reflected that many of the graduates seem to be prepared to leave Western as a convict would want to flee prison. “You tunneled your way out, you’re off the rock,” he said. “Let’s hear it for the inmates.”

After Convocation, The Gazette was able to catch up with Plummer and ask him what would be the first thing he would be doing if he was a 22-year-old student graduating today.

“Getting drunk!”

And the second thing?

“Getting drunker!”

As he discussed his recent projects, such as his role as Aristotle in the upcoming blockbuster epic about Alexander the Great, Plummer expressed a regret of not being able to experience “college.”

“I never went to college. I never had the time and I’ve regretted it all my life, I really have,” he said, pointing to the camaraderie and the fellowship he wished to have been a part of. “But being here today you have made me feel that my years have fallen away and that I am one of you sitting out there, waiting for the party to begin.”

He also imparted some wisdom to the graduating class, mentioning the importance of leaving home and seeing the world. “My profession has taken me all over the world; through these fantasies I discovered life,” Plummer explained. “I guess the moral of the story is that running away from home, or from anywhere else for that matter, is not a crime. In fact, it’s essential. The more you run away into the world, the more you learn about the world.

“So throw all your caution to the winds, make your glorious escapes, let the gates be flung open that you may burst forth into the arena and with brave and foolish hearts, show yourselves to the hungry lions,” he exhorted at the close of his address.

“With only a few minutes this morning I have to enumerate so many extraordinary moments in the career of Christopher Plummer,” stated Western English professor Alan Somerset in his introductory speech for Plummer.

“If you Google ‘Christopher Plummer’ on the Internet, you get 109,000 hits,” he noted, indicating Plummer’s performances on screen in The Sound of Music, The Insider and A Beautiful Mind along with his many theatrical productions, notably his recent critically acclaimed leading role in King Lear, all of which he said made Plummer worthy of an honorary degree from Western.

“Today is not only a day of celebration for the graduates; it is also a celebration of higher learning,” said Greg Moran, Western’s Acting President and VP-academic, shortly before the first Western graduates were conferred their degrees.

With their hard-earned higher education degrees in hand, many graduates already had plans in mind for the future or post-graduate worries to concern themselves with.

“I’m going to Europe, like everyone else, for a month,” said media, information and technoculture grad Candice Anderson, admitting if she does return she plans to begin the search for a job.

“I’m going to do a master’s in music therapy,” explained music graduate Maria Driessen, noting she is not in debt after four years of classes. “I’m not too bad though, my parents are really nice.”



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