Close comes to campus

Actress awarded honorary degree

Glenn Close accepts a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Queen’s.
Image by: Sam Koebrich
Glenn Close accepts a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Queen’s.

On June 13, six-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close came to campus to speak on her initiatives regarding destigmatizing mental illness.

She accepted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the life sciences and School of Graduate Studies convocation.

The Graduate Studies faculties included graduate students studying anatomy, neuroscience and medicine.

Honoured for her work and public advocacy surrounding issues of mental health, Close’s work is said to benefit the Queen’s community.

She’s the co-founder of BringChange2Mind, an anti-stigma campaign. It works to end mental health stigma through widely distributed public education materials and public service announcements.

Since the campaign’s inception in 2009, Close has used her international standing to motivate those suffering to share their stories.

Both her sister Jessie Close and nephew Calen Pick live with mental illness, motivating her to become an active member of the mental health community.

The day before convocation, Close lectured in the Biosciences Complex at a Queen’s event hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences.

She shared various BringChange2Mind public service announcements and took questions on her initiatives from the audience.

Close told the media that she spent the morning with the Mental Health Working Group and Queen’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) to see how they communicate with students who have mental illnesses.

“I was so impressed by what the students and faculty are doing to help educate people about mental illness,” she said, referring to the HCDS’ Green Folder Initiative, which educates faculties about mental illnesses.

“Learn to walk in each other’s shoes … don’t forget to look into each other’s faces, don’t forget the power of two eyes looking into two other eyes, and don’t forget to listen to each other’s voices,” she said, concluding her acceptance speech.

Principal Woolf told the Journal why Close’s work with the Mental Health Working Group is beneficial.

“We are able to share ideas and best practices with the organization she founded,” he said.

Close congratulated the graduating life sciences and School of Graduate Studies classes of 2013 for their accomplishments, and reflected on her past at the College of William and Mary, where she majored in theatre when she was 22.

“I also wanted to accept this honour on behalf of my whole family,” she said.

She also accepted the award on behalf of the 32,000 members of the BringChange2Mind community.

Frequently recognized for her acting, being awarded a Doctor of Laws is a huge honour, she told the Journal at the press conference.

“I love it that I am an honorary Doctor of Laws, having just played a lawyer for five years, [my character] would be pleased,” she said.

Close played Patty Hewes in TV series Damages. She also played Cruella De Vil in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, and most recently played a man in the film Albert Nobbs. When asked how Close’s work will affect students on campus, Principal Woolf said that she’s a valuable role model to the Queen’s community.

“Stigma can deter people from seeking help, and hearing someone as respected and admired as Glenn Close speak about seeking help … will ensure that the conversation will keep going,” he said.

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