PAUL SMITHS - Paul Smith's College alumnus and famed restaurateur Walter J. "Wally" Ganzi Jr. will speak at the college's 66th commencement exercises at 11 a.m. Saturday.
About 320 students are expected to graduate as the Class of 2013. Ganzi will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at the ceremony.
Ganzi is co-owner and co-chairman of The Palm Restaurants and Palm Restaurant Group, which operate 28 fine-dining establishments across the United States, as well as in Mexico City and London.
Ganzi's grandfather, John, opened the first of the renowned steakhouses in New York City in 1926 with partner Pio Bozzi. The Palm remains owned by the Ganzi and Bozzi families to this day. When Wally Ganzi began at The Palm in the early 1960s, he learned the trade from his father and grandfather.
He has appeared on the CBS reality television show "The Job," interviewing applicants to work at The Palm.
Ganzi has been active in Republican national politics and at one point served as a finance chairman of President George H.W. Bush's campaign.
Ganzi graduated from Paul Smith's in 1963 with a degree in hotel management and remains closely connected to the college. In addition to recruiting top graduates for The Palm, he is the namesake of the Wally Ganzi Jr. Restaurant Training Center on the Paul Smith's campus, which is outfitted with a kitchen equipped to Palm specifications. The 40-seat restaurant gives culinary and hospitality students the opportunity to train in a white-tablecloth environment without leaving campus; it will open to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings from June 28 to Aug. 17.
Ganzi was also the college's commencement speaker in 1990.