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A father-son duo to speak at commencement

April  07, 2016

Dr. Paul Olsen Eric Christian Olsen
Dr. Paul Olsen Eric Christian Olsen

Actor Eric Christian Olsen, who currently portrays Detective Marty Deeks on CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles," was set to deliver the address at Augustana College's 156th commencement convocation this May, when Hollywood came calling. The actor, who grew up in the Quad Cities and attended Bettendorf High School, will not be able to be in Moline for this year's ceremony due to being on-location for a film project depicting the epic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  

"While we were disappointed to hear the news, we knew it was a possibility," said Augustana President Steve Bahls. "After consulting with Eric and Provost Pareena Lawrence, we knew how to remedy this situation."  

Olsen is the son of Dr. Paul Olsen, professor of English and the head men's cross country and track and field coach at Augustana. Known as "Ols" by his current students and the thousands of alumni he has taught and coached during his 50 years at Augustana, Dr. Olsen will stand in for his son on Commencement Sunday. A video message from Eric Christian Olsen will precede Dr. Olsen's remarks.  

"I regret that I won't be able to be there in person, but I can't think of anyone I would rather see take my place than my dad," Olsen said.  

The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at the iWireless Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline, Ill. The public is welcome to attend.  

"It is unusual for Augustana to have a faculty member speak at commencement, but on behalf of his son, Paul undoubtedly will deliver a thoughtful and inspirational message to our students and their families," said Provost Lawrence.  

Earlier on Commencement Sunday, Pastor Harvard Stephens Jr., dean of the chapel and pastor to the community at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, will deliver the sermon at Augustana's baccalaureate service. The service will take place at 10 a.m. in Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave., Rock Island).

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu