2018 Commencement Speaker
Thomas H. Woodruff, Jr. '80
Academy Award winner to deliver Lycoming College commencement address
Academy Award winner Tom Woodruff Jr., special effects artist, actor, director and producer, will address students and their families, as well as faculty and staff as the keynote speaker, at Lycoming College’s 170th commencement, May 12. Woodruff will also be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lycoming during the commencement ceremony.
Woodruff has been entertaining and terrifying moviegoers for decades with a carefully cultivated ability to create some of film’s scariest and most lifelike monsters and aliens, as well as other special effects. His most notable works include “Death Becomes Her,” for which he received an Academy Award, last year’s “IT,” “Annabelle: Creation,” and the Netflix feature, “Bright,” as well as past hits including “The Santa Clause,” “Starship Troopers,” “Alien: Resurrection,” and “Mortal Kombat.” Coming this year will be “Sorry to Bother You,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and “The Predator.”
“We very warmly welcome Tom back to his alma mater to share in this special celebration of the conferring of bachelor’s degrees upon the Class of 2018,” said Kent C. Trachte, Ph.D., president of Lycoming College. “A liberal arts education enabled Tom to successfully follow his interests. His willingness to pursue his passion and dedication to perfecting his craft can be a model for all, especially for graduating seniors.”
Born in Williamsport in 1959, Woodruff grew up in the area and graduated from Loyalsock High School. He graduated from Lycoming College in 1980 with majors in business administration and theatre. With classic films such as “Planet of the Apes” and “Frankenstein,” influencing his career path, Woodruff headed to Hollywood and quickly broke into the film industry, securing early film credits for the 1984 film “The Terminator” and in 1986 for “Aliens.”
In 1988, Woodruff co-founded Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. (ADI) with Alec Gillis, based in Chatsworth, Calif., to provide specialized animatronics and prosthetic make-up for a variety of movies. ADI has contributed to the success of more than 100 movies and Television Shows. His efforts have earned him an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a BAFTA for Best Special effects for “Death Becomes Her,” as well as nominations for “Alien 3” and “Starship Troopers.” His work has also garnered several other awards and nominations.
“It’s a privilege to be invited back to Lycoming College as an honored guest and to address the 2018 graduating class,” said Woodruff. “I hope that by staying involved with Lycoming I can encourage others to believe they too have the opportunity to pursue what matters most to them and earn personal success and satisfaction.”
Lycoming College awarded Woodruff the Dr. James E. Douthat Outstanding Achievement Award for alumni in 1993. He returned to campus in 2006 as the freshman Convocation speaker, and again in 2017 to discuss his creative work and Hollywood career in a lecture. He and his wife, Tami (Spitler) ’81, have three children; David, Taylor and Connor.