Award-winning actor Glenn Close ’74, D.A. ’89, H.F. ’19 is returning to her alma mater for a series of special events during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, Oct. 19-22.
Close has starred in films such as “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “101 Dalmatians” and “Hillbilly Elegy,” on TV shows and in on- and off-Broadway productions. Among her many accolades are three Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two SAG Awards and eight Oscar nominations. She is also an advocate for wildlife conservation and mental health.
She will be featured in the dedication of the Arts Quarter, lead the Homecoming Parade as grand marshal and discuss the importance of the arts with President Katherine A. Rowe in the Presidential Conversation. She will also teach a master class for W&M theatre students.
Editor’s note: The Arts Quarter dedication and Presidential Conversation events are currently sold out. The dedication will be livestreamed to the Studio Theater in PBK, where seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the Presidential Conversation, a recording will be available on the Homecoming website after the event. It will also be livestreamed to the Studio Theater in PBK, where seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
These events will help commemorate W&M’s Year of the Arts, a yearlong celebration to amplify the crucial importance of arts education in the 21st century and highlight the vital role that the arts play in all facets of W&M’s educational experience. The year will feature a variety of performances, exhibitions and other events open to both the campus and local communities.
“One of William & Mary’s brightest stars, Glenn Close lights the way for aspiring performers everywhere. We are thrilled to welcome her back for an extraordinary Homecoming,” said Rowe.
As grand marshal, Close will lead the Homecoming Parade, which includes student organizations, alumni groups, musical performances and special guests. The parade, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20 at Confusion Corner (the intersection of North Boundary Street and Richmond Road), will process down Richmond Road and end in front of the Alumni House. Parade judges will be stationed at the entrance to Stadium Drive and will award prizes to participating student groups.
Alumni in reunion classes will be able to meet up with their classmates to watch the parade at designated locations along the parade route. The parade is free and open to the public. Pre-registration at homecoming.wm.edu is welcomed but not required.
Close will also be an honored guest at the dedication of the first phase of the Arts Quarter on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall (PBK). The event will include the dedication of the renovated PBK and the new Music Building, as well as open houses for both spaces. Together, these beautiful new spaces provide 1,500 audience seats across theatres, studios and recital halls. The Arts Quarter’s facilities will transform the experience of performers and audience members and showcase innovation throughout the Music and Theatre & Dance departments. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at homecoming.wm.edu.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m., Close will join President Rowe at PBK for a Presidential Conversation, part of William & Mary’s ongoing series of in-depth discussions between President Rowe and special guests on topics of global interest. Close will discuss her journey to center stage from William & Mary, where she was a theatre and anthropology major and performed in numerous productions, including “Anthony and Cleopatra,” “Cabaret,” “The Seagull” and “Anything Goes.” She studied under longtime William & Mary Theatre Professor Howard M. Scammon Jr. ’34, a relationship which helped to launch her professional career.
Today, almost one third of all William & Mary students participate in the performing arts, whether as musicians or actors, as ensemble members or theatre production staff. As the university celebrates the Year of the Arts, Close and Rowe will explore the role performing arts play in the student experience as well as how the arts can help all of us better understand and navigate our world. Space will be limited so registration is strongly encouraged at homecoming.wm.edu.
“The William & Mary community is proud to call Glenn Close one of our own,” said Matthew L. “Matt” Brandon ’92, CEO of the W&M Alumni Association. “We are delighted to award her the title of grand marshal and celebrate with her throughout Homecoming & Reunion Weekend.”
Other Homecoming events this year include reunion celebrations for alumni in class years ending in 3 and 8, the Friday Night Fest, featuring tastings of Virginia wine, beer and spirits, and the Saturday Night Bash, featuring alumni band N’est Pas. Many university departments, student organizations and other groups are also hosting events throughout the weekend. The full schedule and registration is available at homecoming.wm.edu.
Close received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from William & Mary in 1989 for her “manifold contributions as an artist, alumna and citizen in a distinguished career in the world of cinema, television and theatre.”
“The people who taught me gave me what I think a great liberal arts education should give everyone — an undying curiosity about the subjects taught,” said Close during her 1989 Commencement address. “I have felt in the years since I graduated an indestructible, visceral connection to this place — a connection which is vital and real and which has sustained me through good times and bad.”
In 2013, Close received William & Mary’s Cheek Medal for her contributions to the arts. In 2019, she received an honorary fellowship, the highest honor a university of Royal Charter can confer. She is only the third person in the university’s history to receive that honor.
Her honorary fellowship coincided with the university’s commemoration of 100 years of coeducation. As part of that commemoration, Close narrated the short film “Her Story,” which premiered during William & Mary’s first Women’s Weekend, held in the fall of 2018, and was featured in the W&M Alumni Magazine.
“Our students benefit greatly from interacting with alumni such as Glenn Close and learning from her expertise,” said Suzanne Raitt, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. “More than a third of our students participate in some way in the performing arts, but the arts in all their forms at William & Mary are seamlessly woven into the education we offer inside the classroom and out. I am looking forward to this opportunity for our students — and our community at large — to hear from this acclaimed performer and industry professional.”