Robert Redford, the iconic independent filmmaker who founded the Sundance Film Festival, will deliver the commencement address at Colby’s 194th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 24, 2015. Redford, who was recently labeled the “Godfather of Indie Film” by TIME magazine, will also receive an honorary degree.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public.
Best known for his career in the film industry, which earned him two Academy Awards including one for lifetime achievement, Redford demonstrates a commitment to conservationism and environmentalism and to the free expression of ideas through art. From his breakout acting roles in Barefoot in the Park and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to his directorial debut in Ordinary People, Redford established a reputation for excellence. In 1981 he founded the Sundance Institute “to foster independence, risk-taking, and new voices in American film.” Today that nonprofit organization supports more than 350 artists each year and hosts the country’s most influential film festival.
“Robert Redford represents with great honor and prestige so much of what we value at Colby,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “Throughout his distinguished career he has demonstrated a commitment to the open expression of ideas and the power of artful storytelling. We look forward to welcoming him to Colby and to hearing the insights he will provide to our graduating class.”
Members of the Class of 2015, who number approximately 480, came to Colby from 34 states and 32 countries. Sixty-three percent of the class studied abroad. The majority of graduates have completed internships and significant research, and they will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, nonprofit leadership, and much more.
In addition to Redford, five individuals will receive honorary degrees at the commencement. They are Shirin Ebadi, a groundbreaking Iranian lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner; Deborah Bial, president and founder of the Posse Foundation; Andrew Davis ’85, an arts, education, and environmental philanthropist; Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and CEO of TIAA-CREF; and Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, filmmaker, and founder of Define American.
“These remarkable individuals were chosen for their extraordinary contributions to society in so many important ways,” said President Greene. “Across the board they have shown a commitment to helping others, oftentimes at their own expense. Their example is noteworthy, and we look forward to honoring them at Colby.”