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Lead guitarist for KISS to speak at this year’s May commencement ceremony

With Pacific University’s graduation ceremony vastly approaching, the university has announced that this year’s commencement speaker will be lead guitarist for the rock band KISS, Tommy Thayer.

Hailing from the town of Beaverton, Ore., Thayer has given back to his hometown community and Pacific over the years by hosting rock concerts and auctions with proceeds going to local causes.

Along with his commencement speech, Thayer will also be accepting an honorary degree doctorate of humane letters degree from the university to recognize his philanthropic leadership efforts that have benefited thousands of Pacific students.

“We are giving him an honorary degree because he has been hosting these rock concerts and auctions for the past ten years and we were able to set up an endowment with the proceeds being split between music and athletics,” President Lesley Hallick said. “He is also a board member and we told him he had to come and say something to get it.”

Thayer has served on Pacific’s Board of Trustees since 2005 and helped launch the Legends Golf Classic at Pacific, an annual star-studded event that attracts a wide range of celebrities from the music, sports and entertainment worlds.

He has helped the university generate more than $3.5 million for its athletic program from the golf event that began in 2007.

According to Hallick, he is a bit nervous for the speech because he does not do a lot of speaking at their concerts.

“Our tradition here is that our graduation speeches are typically pretty short,” Hallick said. “It won’t be a very long speech but he will be speaking.”

Thayer was born in Portland and his family lived in Beaverton where Thayer attended Sunset High School. Tommy’s father James Thayer is a retired Brigadier General in the United States Army and was involved in liberating the camps in Europe during World War II. The Oregon Veteran’s Museum is currently being rebuilt and renamed in his honor.

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