Actor Frankie Faison to Receive Honorary Degree

Longtime Montclair resident to be keynote speaker at January Commencement

Montclair State University will confer approximately 1,000 degrees to undergraduate and graduate students on January 23 during the institution’s new January Commencement ceremony at Newark’s Prudential Center.

The University will also present Tony-nominated actor and longtime Montclair, N.J. resident Frankie Faison with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. The television, film and Broadway performer will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony.

“Frankie Faison has entertained us in a career spanning nearly four decades, but it is because of his impact as a citizen of Montclair that we found him to be a worthy recipient for this honor,” said Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole. “His charitable endeavors make him an example of what our graduates should strive to become: successful professionals who serve as role models in their respective communities.”

With more than 100 film and television appearances, Faison’s career has included roles in the movies The Silence of the Lambs, Mississippi Burning, Hannibal and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. He also starred as Commissioner Ervin Burrell in the prominent HBO television series The Wire, and has most recently appeared in the Netflix original series Luke Cage and the hit Cinemax series Banshee. On Broadway, Faison’s turn as Gabriel in the production Fences earned him Best Supporting Actor Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations.

A longtime Montclair resident, Faison is an active member of the community, routinely participating in the Montclair Public Library’s annual Little Read read-aloud marathon celebrating children’s literacy. His daughters, Blake and Amanda, are Montclair State University alumnae. Blake graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2002, and Amanda earned a master’s degree in teaching in 2014.

"Montclair State University has played an important role in my own family, as well as to the community that has been my home for many years,” said Faison. “I have seen the University grow into a leader in higher education known for its academic excellence, diverse student body and friendly culture. I am extremely proud to join my daughters as a Montclair State alumnus and look forward to a continued relationship with the institution."

Montclair State’s new January Commencement ceremony is the latest development in the institution’s maturation into the second-largest university in New Jersey. The increasing number of graduates has necessitated a revamping of the University’s Commencement schedule, with the January ceremony serving as an event for undergraduate and graduate students who completed their coursework in December. Montclair State will also hold two events in May; a graduate student Commencement at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on May 22 and an undergraduate student ceremony on May 25 at Prudential Center.

The January ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on January 23. For more information, visit