Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee


To develop a recommended slate of potential speakers for the December, May, and August Commencement ceremonies.

Committee Membership

The committee will be comprised of students, faculty, staff, and University administrators as identified below.

  • Students (3)– each to serve a 1-yr term
  • Faculty (6)
    • 1 representing the Senate (Selected by Senate Steering) – 3-year term
      Piers Turner, Assistant Professor, Philosophy - (2014-17)
    • 1 representing the Honorary Degrees Committee (Selected by the Honorary Degrees Committee) -- 2-year term
      Ann Allen, Associate Professor, Educational Studies – (2016-18)
    • 3 at-large (Selected by Provost) – 1-, 2-, and 3-year terms
      Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, Associate Professor, Social Work – (2016-18)
      Roman Holowinsky, Associate Professor, Mathematics - (2014-17)
      Larry Schlesinger, Professor and Chair, Microbial Infection & Immunity – – (2015-18)
    • 1 non-tenure track (Selected by Provost) -- 1-3 year term
      Lisa Cravens-Brown, Senior Lecturer, Psychology – (2015-2018)
  • Staff (5)
    • Special Events and Commencement (Selected by the Office of the President) -- Permanent
      Jake Snoble, Program Manager, Office of Commencement and Special Events –
    • Student Life (Selected by the Vice President of Student Life) – 1-3-year
      Matt Couch, Director of Student Activities and Orientation, Student Life - (2015-18)
    • Advancement (Selected by the Senior Vice President for Advancement) – 2-year terms
      Andy Gurd, Associate Vice President, Alumni Association - (2015-17)
      Sara Rubin, VP, Advancement - (2016-18)
    • At large (Selected by Provost) – 3-year term
      Kate Bartter, Director, Office of Energy and Environment – (2015-18)
  • University Administration (1)
    • Office of the President – ex officio
      Katie Hall, Chief of Staff,
  • Convened by a Vice Provost
    Mike Boehm, Vice Provost, Office of Academic Affairs –

Process and Criteria

The committee is asked to actively engage the university community to seek suggestions/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. Only candidates nominated through this portal will be considered for Commencement speaker.

Once a slate of candidates is identified by the committee of the whole, a subcommittee comprised of the three students and three faculty will work collaboratively to develop a prioritized slate of recommended candidates for each Commencement. 

This slate will then be shared with the Executive Vice President and Provost who in turn will deliver this recommendation to the President for approval.  Upon approval, the Office of Academic Affairs will work with the Office of Special Events and Commencement to secure the Commencement speakers in a timely manner.

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.   A faculty member is generally chosen to speak at one Commencement ceremony each year, and an alumnus/donor/business leader is chosen for another.  Potential speakers should be or have the following qualities:

  1. A good public speaker
  2. In a position to deliver a meaningful message with relevance for our graduating students
  3. A leader in her or his field or linked to important and compelling issues
  4. Name recognition (especially important for May Commencement)
  5. Core-values consistent with Ohio State's

Additional Notes

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)