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Matt Damon to return to Cambridge for MIT commencement speech

“It’s quite an honor to be the commencement speaker at a school that I couldn’t have gotten into,” Matt Damon told the school.Victoria Will/Invision/AP/File

Actor Matt Damon is coming back to Cambridge in June to deliver the commencement speech to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s class of 2016. Damon, whose genius janitor character Will Hunting swabbed the halls of MIT in “Good Will Hunting,” told the school that he was “humbled” to be chosen to speak to students as they prepare to start the next chapters of their lives.

“I feel a deep affinity for MIT having grown up in the neighborhood. It’s quite an honor to be the commencement speaker at a school that I couldn’t have gotten into,” he told MIT News.


Damon’s latest film, “The Martian,” earned three Golden Globe nods Thursday, including one for best actor in a comedy. In the movie directed by Ridley Scott, Damon plays an astronaut marooned on Mars who uses his scientific expertise to survive.

But it seems the school didn’t select Damon for the purpose of bestowing his knowledge of Hollywood on young academics. In a statement released Thursday, MIT president L. Rafael Reif also lauded Damon for his humanitarian work. The actor is one of the founders of, a non-profit dedicated to delivering access to clean drinking water in developing countries.

“Through his art, this son of Cambridge has made us think about our world in new ways, and through his service, he has made it a better place,” said Reif.

Damon’s ties to Cambridge and the area go deeper than his role in “Good Will Hunting.” He attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where he graduated in 1988. He later enrolled at Harvard University before leaving the school in 1992, just one semester shy of receiving his bachelor’s degree in English. Damon departed Harvard to pursue his acting career.

MIT’s commencement will take place on Friday, June 3.


Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.