Cody Cousino / Asst. Multimedia Editor
John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and representative from Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, will be speaking in front of a much different crowd as the speaker for Ohio State’s Spring Commencement, according to Boehner’s staff.
Boehner, who has represented Ohio in Congress since 1991, is the 53rd Speaker of the House and the first from Ohio since 1931. He will address a class of about 8,500 graduates at the commencement ceremony set for noon on Sunday, June 12, at Ohio Stadium.
“Ohio State is honored to have Speaker Boehner address our graduates and their families,” President E. Gordon Gee said in a statement. “As one of the United States’ most prominent elected officials, the Speaker will bring invaluable wisdom and insight to our graduating class, assuring that the day is a fitting celebration of the realization of their educational aspirations.”
Brittany Bramell, spokeswoman for Boehner, said he appreciates this opportunity.
“He’s honored by the opportunity to join the students at The Ohio State University as they celebrate their academic accomplishments and look ahead to their future,” Bramell said in an email.
As the second oldest of 12 children, Boehner hails from southwest Ohio where he’s lived his entire life.
Thomas Bergman, a third-year in city and regional planning, described Boehner as the epitome of the American dream.
“Politics is a dirty game but I think he’s an honest guy; he’s a self-made man,” he said. “He grew up in a small family and they weren’t rich at all, and now he’s the Speaker of the House.”
Not all students are as approving of Boehner speaking at Spring Commencement. Claire Westervelt, a fourth-year in geology, said she was worried that Boehner speaking could potentially politicize graduation.
“If you have someone who hasn’t been in office or hasn’t been a political figure but has been motivated by something other than politics, like a scientist or a philanthropist or someone who hasn’t been concerned with the government, it does make it less open to speculation and criticism,” she said. “It could bring up more feelings or thoughts about the current political situation in the country compared to if someone else was speaking.”
Boehner will also be receiving an honorary degree from the Ohio State Board of Trustees at its meeting on Friday. He originally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Xavier University in 1977.