History Commencement Ceremony 2009
This year the History Department was honored to have actor Paul Bartholomew, B.A. '94, give the commencement speech for the graduating class of 2009. More than 160 of the 250 graduating students participated in the commencement ceremony on May 22 at the recently renovated Bass Concert Hall.
Posted: June 3, 2009
Chair Alan Tully recognized the graduates for their accomplishments and the faculty for their teaching excellence and research awards during the past year. Bartholomew was introduced by his friend and former professor Associate Chair and Distinguished Teaching Professor George Forgie.
So how did a history major end up being an actor? You could say, it all started with his love of history.
While taking Forgie's infamous Civil War class, he became so "impressed by his command of the subject and ability to communicate it in such a thoroughly interesting way that I started attending his office hours to take in as much as I could," Bartholomew said backstage.
Bartholomew went on to do research for Forgie and a close working relationship was established. So Forgie was happy to give Bartholomew a resounding recommendation when he found out he was applying for a summer production internship right after graduation for the soap opera "All My Children." (That Forgie just happened to know the creator of the show didn't hurt either--amazing who historians know.)
Bartholomew got the job. From there he took acting lessons and somewhere down the road after that, he said he knew he wanted to be an actor.
Back to Bass Concert Hall. It didn't take long for this self-deprecating, affable actor to have the audience laughing in no time. "Why is an actor who you've probably never heard of, which, you know, doesn't hurt my feelings, it's not a big deal--even though I've done like over 30 national commericals, had recurring roles on TV, the voice on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, not be known to all in the audience," he joked.
So what did this actor and former history major have to tell today's graduating seniors? That, yes, he did not know exactly what he was going to do either and that that might not be as important as the first decision the graduates had already made, which was to choose to study history.
"You chose a major that allowed you the time and space to explore culture and art and government and music and science--you didn’t settle or confine yourselves," he said. "You felt the need to stay open to discovering a path which brings joy and meaning to your life."
He cautioned against choosing a career path based on financial concerns instead of continuing to listen to that deep voice inside. That in choosing the possibly harder road might actually bring to fruition something so profound that it wouldn't have been discovered under any other circumstances.
"Listening to that voice inside is really more important than anything else, so always listen to it. It can take you places that you never thought of," he said. "You are more likely to connect with those beautiful gifts you were put on this earth to share with all of us," he emphasized.
Conclusion: Living life to the fullest is what seems to come naturally to people who study history.
Bartholomew has been on numerous television series in all genres from comedy, to drama to thrillers including "Medium," "ER," "The Cleaner," "The Riches" and "Without a Trace" to name but a few. He has also appeared on the silver screen.
He is the announcer for one of America's most popular TV talk shows, Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Bartholomew's Jeep Liberty "Pouring In" ad was voted one of TBS's Funniest Commercials of the Year for 2007. TBS is a comedy network and a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Most recently, he can be seen in commercials for Lowe's Home Improvement store and Progressive Insurance. He is currently rehearsing for a play in New York City.
NEW YORK -June 24, 2009- The New York Times gives rave reviews on play, "Little Duck" that Bartholomew was rehearsing when he came back to his alma mater to give the commencement speech.
Bartholomew's info on the Internet Movie Database