Phil Dunphy, star of ABC’s “Modern Family” and reportedly America’s “coolest modern dad,” revealed in an unanticipated video announcement the University of Wisconsin 2017 spring commencement speaker will be Steve Levitan.
— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) January 25, 2017
According to a news release, Levitan, who graduated in 1984 with a degree in communication arts, was a journalism student on campus and participated in an integrated liberal studies program with Wisconsin Public Radio.
Shortly after graduating, he worked as a reporter for Madison’s ABC affiliate and later on as a copy writer for the Leo Burnett advertising agency in his native Chicago.
After moving to Los Angeles, he grew closer to screenwriting and became a writer and producer on shows including “Fraiser” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”
His most well-known achievement, however, comes from creating and producing “Modern Family.”
The Emmy Award-winning producer said he credits UW for teaching him the skills and work ethic required to succeed in Hollywood. Along with academics, in the news release he said he had many opportunities on campus that helped him hone in on the interests that he later developed into his career.
As he makes his way to campus, a lot of people are happy to have him back.
@UWMadison Nice choice! My daughter is graduating this year and we will get to hear him speak! On Wisconsin!!
— Patty Shinners (@PattyShinners) January 25, 2017
— Shannon Timm (@sltimm) January 25, 2017
— Alex Kowalsky 👐 (@alexmk) January 25, 2017
— Rebecca Ballweg (@Becker_B) January 25, 2017
“We are thrilled to have Steven as our keynote speaker,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “He has had a very successful career in a tough and competitive business. As someone who is responsible for entertaining millions of people with his comedies, I also suspect this year’s graduates will get a few laughs along with some good advice.”
The senior class officers choose each ceremony’s commencement speaker.
For this year’s, senior class president Andre Hunter Jr. said they sought to bring back a Badger who not only put the Wisconsin Idea into action, but someone who could also “ignite a fire in graduates to create their own stories in the next chapter of their lives.”
Levitan will speak before the graduating class May 13 at Camp Randall Stadium.