City of Carbondale proclaims April 3 ‘Bob Odenkirk Day,’ gives him Key to the City

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - One of Southern Illinois University’s most well-known alumni, Bob Odenkirk, is returning to campus.

The City of Carbondale proclaimed Monday, April 3, as “Bob Odenkirk Day.”

Shortly after 9 a.m. the city presented Odenkirk with a Key to the City during a brief ceremony at City Hall.

During the event, Odenkirk said Carbondale gave him the opportunity he needed to grow as a person.

Odenkirk is spending the rest of the day on campus where he will be speaking to two College of Arts and Media (CAM) classes and meet with students, faculty, staff and university leaders.

After his day on campus, the 1984 SIU graduate will receive two degrees during a ceremony at 7 p.m.

The event will be held at the Banterra Center and is free and open to the public.

Seating will be first-come, first-served.

SIU said registration is no longer required to attend the event. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The event was moved to the Banterra Center because of overwhelming response.

The first degree given to Odenkirk will be the bachelor’s degree he earned as a student. The second will be an honorary doctorate bestowed upon him in 2020.

Following the presentation, there will be a discussion and audience Q&A session with Odenkirk.

“Bob Odenkirk is one of the bright stars in our vast Saluki universe,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “We are so excited for him to be back on campus and share his experiences.”

The university is excited to have Odenkirk back on campus.

“Being able to have someone like Bob Odenkirk speak to our classes is a truly unique experience for our students,” said Hong Cheng, dean of the College of Arts and Media. “When our most successful alumni engage with us in this way, it makes our college stronger and more robust.”

Odenkirk was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at spring commencement in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to give a virtual address.

It was during that address he coined the phrase, “I am a Saluki, you fools, and I will destroy you,” which has become a popular T-shirt worn by Salukis everywhere.

In the past, they say Odenkirk has spoken fondly of his time at SIU, including during appearances on talk shows, red carpet interviews and in magazine articles.

Before the 2019 Emmy Awards, he was interviewed by Jenny McCarthy, who also attended SIU.

McCarthy asked him if he knew they attended the same college.

“That’s where I graduated from,” Odenkirk said. “Salukis! I love that college. Look at us, SIU made us.”

Odenkirk grew up in northern Illinois. After coming to SIU, he spent time as a radio DJ and comedian, working at student radio station WIDB. He earned a bachelor’s degree from SIU in radio-television.

After graduating, he moved to Chicago, where he performed comedy and took classes at the Players Workshop.

He was later hired to write for “Saturday Night Live,” where he helped create beloved sketches such as “Da Bears” and “Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker.”

In 2009, he joined the cast of AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” His character, lawyer Saul Goodman, became a fan favorite.

The character was also the focus of the “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul.”

Both shows were critically acclaimed, earning Odenkirk numerous awards and honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Amber Ruch

Amber has worked at KFVS for eight years.