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No student input in Ohio State commencement speaker selection

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” was announced as OSU’s Spring 2014 commencement speaker March 21. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” was announced as OSU’s Spring 2014 commencement speaker March 21.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Ohio State students did not play their typical role in selecting this year’s commencement speaker, and the university remains silent about who did.

“Because of time constraints and leadership changes during the past year, the decision was made to use a more streamlined approach to speaker selection for Spring 2014 Commencement,” Amy Murray, university spokeswoman, said in an email. “For subsequent years, the Office of Academic Affairs is designing a speaker-selection process that includes faculty, staff and students.”

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” was announced as the commencement speaker Friday.

In the past, there was a committee of students, faculty and staff from several departments, including Undergraduate Student Government and faculty governance members. Murray said for future speakers, a committee is slated to be in place and should be appointed by the end of the semester for recommendations for the 2014-15 academic year.

The leadership changes Murray mentioned that led to the decision to not have a committee this year included former President E. Gordon Gee’s retirement from OSU July 1, days after remarks he made in December 2012 about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular brought national attention. Dr. Michael Drake, chancellor at University of California Irvine, is slated to take over as the new university president, effective June 30.

Murray did not comment on who specifically made the decision for commencement speaker this year, but said Matthews’ background makes him a good choice.

“As one of the nation’s most experienced political journalists, Matthews has a remarkable depth of experience. As Spring Commencement speaker, he will offer a unique perspective on our country’s history and future,” Murray said.

Some students, though, are upset their voices weren’t involved in the decision.

USG Vice President Josh Ahart said USG tried to reach out to the commencement speaker selection committee throughout the year but never received any responses.

“The vice president of USG gets to appoint (someone) to certain committees, so I did appoint someone to the commencement speaker selection committee, and they tried several times to get in contact with that committee chair,” said Ahart, a fourth-year in public affairs. “No emails were ever responded to, no emails were ever forwarded or responded to … I never heard anything all year.”

He added that other things have been going smoothly this year, despite the changes in leadership.

“I have been hearing that this is a transition period for the university. This is a transition period for the entire university, not just this committee, and every other committee has been fine this year,” Ahart said. “I don’t think that’s any excuse for something as big as the commencement speaker. Everything else has been working just fine.”

Niraj Antani, an OSU alumnus who was on the commencement speaker selection committee last year when U.S. President Barack Obama was chosen to speak at the 2013 Spring Commencement, said he was surprised to hear there was no student voice in this year’s selection.

“That is disappointing because I think having student input in the process is valuable, and also, it’s the students’ commencement speaker, so having a graduating student on that committee is useful and necessary,” Antani said.

He said there are typically two students — one undergraduate and one graduate or professional student — on the committee. Antani said his input, and the recommendations he received from other students, was valued.

“The committee was very receptive to my ideas for people who the students suggested,” Antani said.

Commencement is set to take place May 4 at noon at Ohio Stadium, and about 10,000 students are expected to graduate.

Some of those soon-to-be graduates said the decision could have been more inclusive.

Seth Teplitsky, a fourth-year in biology who is set to graduate in May, said students should have had a voice.

“In an ideal world, you’re always going to have the students have a say on what goes on in the university, especially for something as big as the commencement speaker,” Teplitsky said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily the end of the world but I think it could have been handled better.”

Ahart said he hopes students will have more of an input in upcoming years.

“In the future, (the university) needs to adhere to the policies that students are on the committees,” he said. “Ohio State talks about the shared government model a lot and we are very proud of it. This was a situation where it was not utilized and some students might not be happy with the speaker selection. They were not able to provide that input that is so vital.”


  1. Wow that sucks.

  2. Deeply disappointing. Two years in a row far left speakers. Have we become a communist university? Where is the balance? Public institution, taxpayer money to push a single ideal ology?

  3. “Mathews’ background makes him a good choice”. I almost choked on my breakfast this morning when I read that statement. Is the plan to also limit the graduates to four commencement tickets for their guests? LOL, someone dropped the ball bigtime on this one (again!).

  4. Well, I wondered who got paid off to bring this psychopath to OSU.
    How degrading to OSU.

  5. Two socialist two years in a row. Don’t sit in the front two rows or you might get slobbed on by chris.

  6. You can quit calling me asking for money. This guy is a far left wing nut.

  7. When communications via one channel aren’t working well, try another channel. If something is important, don’t just rely on “sending an email”. Pick up the phone, walk over to see the person, even write a snail mail message. This may be a lesson for Mr. Ahart and others who rely solely on emails.

  8. Why the name calling? Why the trite dialogue about the selection process? Why not offer a cogent argument for your dissent? If you are an OSU student currently enrolled or an OSU alumni, why the vile and immature language. Are you not an educated person? Why the need to spew invectives? The dialogue is more on par with the middle school students I teach. Debate the issue with some intelligence and stop the name calling. The Ohio State University and it’s “liberal” professors have taught you better than this.

  9. I don’t mind Chris Matthews for being partisan, he’s been in and around politics for a very long time and has perspective and I’m sure he’ll have a rollicking fun thing or two to say. As for whether he is “far left, socialist, psychopath, or a left wing nut,” well who would you suggest instead? Matt Drudge? Because that’s what such language suggests to me.

    I think he will be controversial and I think that’s good. Noting that when discussing Rand Paul’s reaching out to college-aged people with his privacy arguments about the NSA and phones, Chris said (not an exact quote, but summarizing from memory) that college kids care about food, sex, and their phones.

    Buckle up 🙂

  10. So we still don’t know who made this divisive decision? We know the normal, inclusive process involving a “committee of students, faculty and staff from several departments, including Undergraduate Student Government and faculty governance members” was strangely bypassed. We’ve been given only a really shady reason for the bypass: there wasn’t enough time for the normal process. What? Were our leaders afraid competing institutions, like Dayton, were going to grab Matthews first?

  11. How else can you be indoctrinated?! Besides, everyone can use a “Tingle” now and again!

  12. I agree with Gretchen Rph. Get a grip, people. The name calling and negative comments do nothing to change the decision already made by the university’s powers that be. Yes. The university should have stuck to their usual selection committee format. It was not Mr. Matthews’ decision; it was Ohio State’s decision. I’ve read a past commencement address made by Mr. Matthews from another very notable university and found it to be very uplifting and encouraging. I am sure he will be a fine commencement speaker just like all those who have come before him.

  13. You Right Wing nuts are really butt hurt… If you don’t like it, don’t go. No different then having to sit through Bush and Boehner like past students did. It’s quite amusing how quickly you forget…

  14. At least Bush, Boehner and Obama were elected officials with real world responsibilities. Mathews is merely a TV personality who is primarily concerned with his ratings, which accounts for his far left “shock jock” approach. Bad choice. Students should have been involved.

  15. I suspect they feared if students were given the opportunity to weigh in, they would’ve rejected a failing media personality with extreme leftist views, or at best, one who panders simply for ratings. This was a poor decision by the university and the given rationale is lame at best. While the speaker at my commencement was not an elected official, she was a pioneer for women in the field of Physics in the ’60s, and on faculty at THE University. And this is different according to the Lantern, since students are normally involved in the selection process. This is more about changing the “rules” than it is about the man chosen to speak. at least for me it is. And no, I do not care for Chris Matthews. Not solely for his views, but more for the fact that he never lets anyone finish, especially if they holding opposing viewpoints. No fan of O’Reilly either.

  16. An outstanding choice.

  17. OSU Alum 82, Gretchen, and Sad Story say to get a grip about name calling. You obviously never watch Chris Matthews. He can name call with the best and as someone else stated, cuts off any opposing view points before they can finish their statements. Why not Drudge? If you are going to allow this bias on one side, why not the other? Typical left reaction. Only want their side. Rutgers is protesting Condoleza Rice. They would probably love Bill Ayers or Rev Wright or Chris Matthews. Back to Mr. Matthews and the name calling. His network has had to fire 3 hosts in last couple of months for the vitriole they used against Sarah Palin and others. Don’t think Chris Matthews made any comments about his left wing network hiring and promoting these puppets of the left and their most vile statements. Chris Matthews definitely does not leave a tingle up my leg and disappointing that students had no say in the selection.

  18. Mom of a Graduate

    This is VERY disappointing! No one had the decency to respond to the USG all year??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? The University felt it not necessary to have student input? This is outrageous! I hope the students will flood Amy Murray’s office with phone calls, emails and signs.

    First an interim President is signing their diploma’s and now they bring in someone who obviously is not going to be well received? We’ll be there because it is one of the most important days in our sons’ life. I sure hope the “University” changes their mind and quickly resolves this!

    Maybe everyone should just stand and turn around as he speaks. (Something students and visitors were told they were NOT allowed to do when Pres. Bush spoke)

  19. To Mom of a Graduate:

    “Maybe everyone should just stand and turn around as he speaks”. This is where you messed up. Your real problem isn’t one of principle (I absolutely believe that students should have had input in this decision), but with who the speaker happens to be. I doubt that you would be calling for protests if a right-wing speaker had been chosen to speak this year.

    Political figures will always be polarizing. President Obama was chosen with student input that was missing from this year’s selection process, and people still had a problem with that choice. Same with Bush. The only way to solve this problem is to stop selecting politicians, which won’t happen. Bottom line, most people would prefer someone of their own political beliefs (if it’s a politician) to be the speaker, and if it isn’t, the students (and Moms, apparently) will find some problem.

  20. I disapprove of this speaker choice. I will not be donating to OSU like I have the past 138 years.

  21. Bill O’Reilly would be a better speaker and less of an ideologue.


  22. You can try and sanitize this choice all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that OSU is very far left, which is sad. I’m sure the liberals are happy, and they can believe whatever they want to, but Government running the people does not end well. I work very hard for my Family, and I am an unashamed conservative fiscally, and Chris Matthews represents everything what I believe is wrong with our system of Government. Go ahead and let him speak, and I’m sure the young graduates will be thrilled to hear him speak. Afterwards they can go out and try to find jobs, which in this economy are becoming extremely hard to find. Good luck to all the 2014 class, and I really wish everyone success.

  23. Who chose him? Why did they break precedent and bypass student input?

    But, just to be clear: OSU is left leaning, but no more so than any other university in the country (except maybe BYU, ND, Oral Roberts, and the service academies.) At OSU, most people are appalled by the choice of Matthews. At your typical liberal arts school, most people would have a tingle down their leg over the selection of Matthews. If that is any consolation.

  24. I can’t believe that OSU is going to let this Ding-a-Ling speak at an important event like this.Iam sure it will have a negative effect on fund raising. Why not Glenn or maybe Mitch Daniels Governor of Indiana.( The fastest growing manufacturing state in the Union)

  25. Interesting comments from the student body. Not surprised they are disappointed, at least the one’s who commented. Matthews was not their choice, nor would he be, on that I agree with their frustration of being out of the loop. However, as graduate of OSU’s graduate programs (MA, Ph.D.)I am amused and saddened at the talk of Matthews being a leftist or socialist (Like Obama?). Matthews is not even a liberal — but he is an insufferable persona on Cable news shows like the one he hosts at MSNBC. President Obama was a great choice, as were the previous presidents who spoke at graduation. Matthews, not so much. Come on administration, give the students a voice — let them have a stake in selecting a speaker they wish to be inspired by.

  26. Relax. Rush Limbaugh was busy that weekend.

  27. Not as bad as Susan Rice in 2012. That was absolutely horrible and the reason I won’t be donating any money to Ohio State.

  28. Awful. A tingle will not run down my leg when you call or write for donations! Call George Soros

  29. Ghost of Walt Seifert

    Ohio State University Provost, Joseph E. Steinmetz, is now on record as the decision maker for this commencement speaker. The chief academic officer of the university. I will leave it at that.

  30. This is hilarious. Chris Matthews was just voted the LEAST liked TV news anchors.


    Congratulations, Joe Steinmetz, or whomever else made this choice. Your stupidity and liberal bias has now been shown for what it is. You’ve made THE Ohio State the laughing stock of the country.


  31. Not to tick anyone off but who signed off on this mess? I could care less about your excuses but this guy is a hack at his job and voted dead last in a survey. I’m sure you are hoping libs will make up for the money that will be lost by dedicated OSU alum, students, parents, etc. who used to give because of the love of the university and what it stood for. I worked at OSU for over 31 years and have sadly seen how students are now not first priority in the process. At least let the students make the decision as to who they want to hear on their exit from undergrad. Jeez… When my one son graduated the speaker, who I can’t remember, made an old lady fall asleep and fall aver in my lap till I pushed her up. Actually I wanted a nap too to break up the miserable boredom. All is not lost….you may need a shoe catcher. This could get interesting. Have at it!!!!

  32. Jack Hannah was cooler.

  33. So a few things…. Chris Matthews is not going to get up on stage and preach… if any of you have ever watched the show, yes he’s liberal but he’s not going read a sermon. I think he’ll be enlightening and funny. He’s going to encourage the class of 2014 and he’s going to give perspective from someone who had a really interesting career and saw a lot of changes in the last couple of decades and probably has some interesting insight into the future. I graduated in 2012 and have a job by the way – to the guy who said the economy is Chris Matthew’s fault.

    Next, the kid they quote who was on the Obama “selection committee” ??? Give me a break… Ohio State didn’t chose Obama… they didn’t vote. They found out that Obama was going to pick Ohio State to give a commencement speech and said ok!

    I don’t think students need a presence in the selection. If the USG President really wanted his selected member to get involved he should have done more than send a couple emails. Have you ever heard of a phone or an office door? or a receptionist??? I think they should be lucky they were fortunate enough to go to such an amazing institution and achieve what they needed to, to get a seat in the stadium that day.

    Also anyone attacking Murray … shes the spokesperson! Don’t kill the messenger!

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