Dear Tulane Community:
There is often some debate regarding university commencement speakers. For instance, should the individual selected for this role be accomplished in one of the academic disciplines or should they be a well-known and beloved celebrity? In choosing the keynote speaker for Commencement 2022, we decided the answer was both. The fact that our choice also has a deep New Orleans connection was a definite plus. So, we are thrilled to announce that actor, producer, writer and doctor Ken Jeong will deliver the keynote speech to graduates at Commencement 2022, which will take place at Yulman Stadium at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21.
Legions of fans know Ken as Mr. Chow from the The Hangover franchise, Señor Chang from the critically acclaimed TV show "Community," Wye Mun Goh from the blockbuster film Crazy Rich Asians, and his own Netflix standup special "You Complete Me, Ho," which earned him a People’s Choice nomination. For the past six seasons, Ken has entertained millions of viewers as a judge on the Emmy-nominated "The Masked Singer" and is host and executive producer of the popular "I Can See Your Voice." He will also soon star in Mike Myers’ highly anticipated Netflix series "The Pentaverate." In addition, he recently appeared in Will Arnett’s improvisational Netflix comedy series "Murderville." Ken has also appeared in Role Models, Ride Along 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Couples Retreat, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, My Spy and Tom & Jerry. He also lent his voice to the Oscar-nominated Over the Moon, as well as Scoob, and My Little Pony.
Prior to his Hollywood success, Jeong earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University (from which he also received an honorary degree in Humane Letters) and his MD from the University of North Carolina. He also did research in Gastroenterology at Tulane University School of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine residency at Ochsner Medical Center, while also performing stand-up comedy at local clubs. In 1995, he won the city’s Big Easy Laff Off. Encouraged by former NBC President Brandon Tartikoff and Improv founder Budd Friedman, who judged the contest, he headed to Los Angeles.
While practicing medicine in LA, Ken began performing regularly at the Improv and Laugh Factory and appeared on a number of television shows including "The Office," "Entourage," and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." When he was cast as cantankerous Dr. Kuni in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, Ken solidified himself as a feature film actor. Art would imitate life in the following years when he created, wrote, executive produced and starred in ABC’s "Dr. Ken."
When not busy with another film or television project, Ken dedicates his spare time to volunteering with Stand Up 2 Cancer, a cause very close to his heart. He has also been outspoken on the rise of racism and hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. He is using his platform to call attention to these issues and advocate for change in hopes of having a lasting impact.
This year’s Commencement – the first since the beginning of the pandemic in which all our graduates will participate together in person – will be something of a homecoming for Ken. Besides enjoying live jazz and all the other NOLA flourishes and fun embedded in our unique celebration, I also believe that Tulane’s interdisciplinary educational approach will appeal to Ken. The experiences of our students, who often double and even triple major in far-flung subjects such as neuroscience and dance or music and math, seem kindred with Ken’s “multi-disciplined” career path. While our educational approach does not always produce Hollywood stars, it has defined the amazing Class of 2022, whose achievements we will salute at this exciting and memorable ceremony. The graduates of the Class of 2022 are committed to seeking innovative approaches to solving problems and pursuing careers that make a real difference in the world. In the post-pandemic era we are entering, such graduates seem to be just what the doctor ordered.