Tom Hanks dedicates Wright State’s motion pictures center

One of the most beloved Academy Award-winning actors of all times is now a permanent part of Wright State University.

Tom Hanks, whose exhaustive list of critically acclaimed films and box office hits include “Forrest Gump,” “Philadelphia,” “Cast Away,” “Big,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Bridge of Spies,” was on hand today to dedicate the Tom Hanks Center of Motion Pictures, which is part of the $27 million newly renovated and expanded Creative Arts Center at WSU.


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“With a name on the outside of a building, I like to think I got in,” said Hanks, about WSU’s Motion Pictures Program.

The actor and producer told the audience they should have seen what he got on his SATs — spilled coca cola, he joked.

Hanks kept the audience laughing as he cracked jokes throughout his speech, but he was also serious. He addressed the students, saying he hopes they all experience three things in their careers as filmmakers: 1. failure, 2. mediocrity and 3. brilliance. About mediocrity, he warned the students if they make a film and people call it “cute,” that means it’s mediocre. He said the preferred order of experiencing the three is The Failure, The Cute and then the Brilliant. He said that order is a lot better than The Brilliant, The Cute and then The Failure.

In addition to possessing a witty way with words, Hanks is also a champion of arts in education. He called the college system in the United States “the greatest education system in the world.” One of the reasons he cited is that our system puts the onus on the students, unlike in countries where higher education is free and students don’t always put a lot of effort into their education.

Hanks said it doesn’t matter where a student goes to college, but “It matters how hard you work. I hope this building spurs the students who come here.”

Along with Amanda Wright Lane, the great-grandniece of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, Hanks is chairing WSU’s national $150 million “Rise. Shine. The Campaign,” designed to provide state-of-the-art facilities, attract more top faculty and award scholarships.

Also visiting the campus today was two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, who is collaborating with Hanks on an HBO miniseries based on his latest book, “The Wright Brothers,” a New York Times No. 1 bestseller.

The book and the production of the miniseries are bringing renewed attention to Dayton and its historical significance.

McCullough conducted a master class with WSU students. “I think that the Wright brothers are a lesson in history if ever there was,” said the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

“These two men, David and Tom, are truly two of the great storytellers of our generation,” said W. Stuart McDowell, chair and artistic director for the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures at WSU.

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