The University of Montana will award honorary doctorates to former U.S. Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas and Academy Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons during its May 14 commencement ceremonies.

"The actor who we know just won an Academy Award a year ago and is an alum. We will award an honorary doctorate also to Jack Ward-Thomas who rose through the ranks of the U.S. Forest Service and was named Chief of the U.S. Forest Service in the 90s," VP of Integrated Communications Peggy Kuhr said.

Kuhr said these awards are chosen based on nominations each year.

"This really is a top award being named an honorary doctor of humane letters in the case of J.K. Simmons and honorary doctor of science Jack Ward-Thomas," Kuhr said. "This is the highest thing we can do for people who have shown great achievement in their areas."

Kuhr said UM has also announced that J.K. Simmons will be the special commencement guest speaker for graduating students this year.

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