Commencement Speaker Selection
Commencement is a beginning and an end. It’s the last step in the academic journey that students and faculty have taken together, and it’s the starting point of our graduates’ lives as Ohio State alumni. It unites the entire Ohio State community in celebrating academic accomplishment.
Take an active role in this proud tradition. Your help is needed to identify Commencement speakers who can inspire graduates, their families, our faculty, and other guests. Submit a commencement speaker nomination via the online portal.
Process and Criteria
The committee is asked to actively engage the university community to seek nominations for Commencement speakers. Nominations will be made through the university's Commencement speaker nomination portal, which is always open. All members of the Ohio State community are encouraged to make nominations.
The committee will work collaboratively to develop a prioritized slate of recommended candidates for each Commencement.
Given the importance of the May Commencement as a major event for the university, the committee will seek to identify a slate of speakers of national or international stature befitting a ceremony celebrating 10,000+ graduates. Faculty members are also considered for commencement addresses. Potential speakers should be or have the following qualities:
- A good public speaker
- In a position to deliver a meaningful message with relevance for our graduating students
- A leader in their field or linked to important and compelling issues
- Name recognition (especially for May Commencement)
- Core values consistent with those of Ohio State’s mission, vision, and values
Honorary degrees may be offered to certain speakers, depending upon their prominence in their field, among other factors. The honorary degree process is generally a separate one, but can intersect when inviting select dignitaries as speakers following University Faculty Rules (rule 3335-5-41 of the Administrative Code).
The Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee is charged with developing a recommended slate of potential speakers for the December, May, and August Commencement ceremonies.
The committee is convened by the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Student Life and is comprised of a number of representatives selected by organizations from around the university community, including:
- Three students serving one-year terms, selected by Undergraduate Student Government (1), Council of Graduate Students (1), and Inter-Professional Council (1)
- Six faculty, representing University Senate (1), Honorary Degrees Committee (1), at-large selected by the Provost (3), non-tenure-track selected by the Provost (1)
- Four staff, representing the Office of Commencement and Special Events (1), Office of Student Life (1), Office of Advancement (1), at large selected by the Provost (1)