Actor/Humanitarian Marlee Matlin Draws Standing Ovation at Woodbury University Commencement

Oscar® Winner Urges 2014 Graduates to Listen to Their Hearts; Event Includes Announcement of AACSB Accreditation for School of Business -- And a Marriage Proposal (Accepted)

CIC College Media Conference 2014

BURBANK, Calif.--()--Commencement ceremonies can be full of all kinds of rites of passage.

Consider Woodbury University’s event on the morning of Saturday, May 10. Making a bit of history, Oscar®-winning actor and humanitarian Marlee Matlin delivered the commencement address to the Woodbury University Class of 2014 during ceremonies on campus –- and received what is believed to be the first-ever standing ovation at a Woodbury commencement.

While commencement is an anticipated rite of passage, the element of surprise does occasionally make an appearance. In his closing remarks, university president Luís Ma. R. Calingo, Ph.D., announced that the School of Business has received accreditation from AACSB Internationalthe highest achievement for an educational institution that awards business degrees, a status conferred on less than 5 percent of all business programs worldwide.

And holding to that axiom about good things coming in threes, Woodbury’s 2014 commencement wrapped up with a marriage proposal – Vahag Sargsyan proposed to Marine Hopalian -- and an acceptance (

More than 400 Woodbury University undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas during the proceedings. Student speakers representing the Class of 2014 included senior Craig Michael Tolliver from the School of Architecture (Burbank) and Rumana Khan and Verginie Touloumian, both from the School of Business.

In her address, Ms. Matlin -- who is married to Woodbury University M.A. graduate Kevin Grandalski -- shared that “my family is now officially a Woodbury family.” And, as befits a member of the Woodbury community, she spoke with feeling about the support of family.

“I’m here because I learned from people like my parents and my teachers that I can simply walk around barriers rather than let them define who I am,” she said. “And the same is true for you. You can lament that 83 percent of college graduates do not have jobs lined up, or you can move forward – persevere, engage, make things happen...

“I want you to participate,” she implored. “Sign with me – Courage. Dreams. Success. Courage plus Dreams equals Success. It’s a formula that every graduate needs to keep in mind when facing a world that seems full of barriers. Don’t forget to volunteer, don’t forget to love, laugh and pay your taxes. Most of all, never forget to listen...listen to your hearts. Life is ready for you.”

About Woodbury University

Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. Woodbury offers bachelor's degrees from the School of Architecture, School of Business, School of Media, Culture & Design, and Institute of Transdisciplinary Studies, along with an MBA program, Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Science in Architecture (MSArch), and Master of Organizational Leadership. The San Diego campus offers Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Real Estate Development for Architects (MRED), and Master of Science in Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism degrees. Visit for more information, and Reflections on Excellence, a twice-monthly blog written by Woodbury University President Luis Maria R. Calingo, Ph.D.


Edge Communications, Inc.
Ken Greenberg, 323-469-3397

Release Summary

Actor/Humanitarian Marlee Matlin Draws Standing Ovation at Woodbury University Commencement; Event Concludes with Marriage Proposal (Accepted)


Edge Communications, Inc.
Ken Greenberg, 323-469-3397