Actor Tambor Addresses Class of 2014

Natalie Bombatch

posted May 09, 2014


On Saturday, April 26, 2014, Pitt-Johnstown marked its 42nd Commencement ceremony, which honored 564 gradutes who completed requirements for Bachelor Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Associate of Science degrees in August or December 2013, or are completing requirements in April or June of this year. More than 400 seniors processed in the ceremony.

Award-winning movie star and educator, Jeffrey Tambor, an iconic actor known by many for his roles in Arrested Development and The Hangover, brought the class of 2014 to their feet after presenting a rousing speech, honoring and celebrating the accomplishments of the graduating class. Tambor encouraged students to unleash their creative energy and use their imaginations as they navigate the opportunities in the RealWorld.

A veteran of film, television, and the Broadway stage, Tambor is one of the most iconic and respected character actors of his generation. As a man of many talents, Tambor is highly creative, using his overwhelming love for life and the lessons learned along the way as sparks of inspiration for his keynotes. He speaks from the heart, sharing his personal truths as a way to inspire audiences young and old to embrace human connectivity.


Most people know of Tambor’s versatile and accomplished acting accolades in film and television. These include his unforgettable roles in the popular programs The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development, as well as in the films The Hangover, And Justice for All and Meet Joe Black. These roles and many others display his innate, unique acting gifts. Tambor has also received numerous honors for his professional work, including six Emmy nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well a Television Critics Association Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Comedy Series. However, his greatest honors have since come in his own personal life, which he willingly shares with his audiences.

Tambor attended San Francisco State University, where he received a BA degree in drama in 1965. He then went to Wayne State University earning an MA in 1969. Although he moved on to acting before receiving his PhD, he developed a deep connection with academia and vowed to never forget his roots. What many people do not know is that in addition to co-owning Skylight Books, Tambor taught at his Alma Mater and has been a teacher for over forty years, educating all groups of people from actors to corporations to animators from Dreamworks and others. He passionately empowers his students through lessons they cannot gather from their textbooks. As a down to earth and personable educator, he uses his life experiences, both dark and entertaining, to advise others to face their fears.

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar presented the Medal of Distinctive Excellence to Tambor. The highest award bestowed by Pitt Johnstown, the Medal of Distinctive Excellence recognizes exceptional persons for their exemplary contributions toward making our world a better place. Specifically, honorees are chosen on wide range of criteria including their social, cultural and humanitarian contributions, leadership in their professions as well as service to the community of humankind. Individuals receiving the prestigious Medal of Distinctive Excellence make a positive difference in our world, their actions inspire and empower others to achieve their fullest potential; they contribute to human progress and enlightenment.

Student Government Association President Noam Berns '14 offered remarks on behalf of the students. Dr. Janet Grady, vice president for academic affairs, presented the candidates for degrees. Gladys Go '92, president of the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association, recognized graduates as the school's newest alumni.

Stan Pisarski, instructor in electrical engineering technology, served as the grand marshal for the ceremonies, which included a procession of graduates, faculty, staff, administration, and members of the Pitt-Johnstown Advisory Board. Faculty marshals were Brian Houston, associate professor of civil engineering technology; Dr. Elisabeth Bell-Loncella, associate professor of chemistry; Amy Miller, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology; Dr. Mark Previte, associate professor of secondary education; Dr. John Thompson, associate professor of mathematics; and Beverly Withiam, associate professor of civil engineering technology.

Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University is the regional leader, educating for the RealWorld. The distinctive combination of our people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” by AC Online as one of the “Highest ROI Colleges in Pennsylvania,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been presented with The Seven Seals Award by the US Department of Defense’s office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).