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Ohio State students react to selection of Chris Matthews as Spring Commencement 2014 speaker

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews." Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”
Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Some Ohio State students set to graduate in May said the commencement speaker is a somewhat surprising choice, especially after last year’s speech was given by President Barack Obama.

Some, however, are hoping OSU’s selection will still give a memorable speech without playing hard ball.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” is set to speak at Ohio State’s Spring 2014 Commencement May 4 at Ohio Stadium.

Caleb Inboden, a fourth-year in theatre and graduating senior, said he was expecting to see someone associated with OSU chosen.

“I was a little confused at first,” Inboden said. “Last year, they got President Obama and even for the fall commencement, they got R.L. Stine who’s associated with the university, so I was wondering their reasoning behind it.”

Matthews graduated from Holy Cross College in 1967 and has served as a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Stine, meanwhile, is an OSU graduate.

“I wouldn’t say (Matthews is) a bad choice,” Inboden said. “He’s just one that kind of brings up some questions. Not in a bad way, just why he was chosen or what their reasoning (was).”

After the announcement was made that Matthews would be the speaker, many students used social media to voice their thoughts on the choice. Some expressed disapproval, and even disgust, with the choice, complaining about his liberal views.

Many view Matthews as a liberal pundit, and a review in The New York Times for his book “Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked” called him “an MSNBC talking head” and said he had a “brand of confidently asserted overgeneralization.”

Some students, though, said Matthews was a good choice.

“He asks really good questions of the politicians that come on (his show),” said Micah Dillard, a fourth-year in political science and economics. “He’s definitely a little soft on the people that come from the left, but I think he’s a pretty solid journalist.”

Dillard also said he expects Matthews will give a fairly typical graduation speech.

“Last year it was Barack Obama, so it’s sort of a hard act to follow up,” he said. “I’m looking forward to see what he has to say.”

Seth Teplitsky, a fourth-year in biology, said he was indifferent about the selection, but he hopes the speech will be meaningful.

“In a commencement speech, it doesn’t necessarily matter what direction they go with it, you just want something memorable,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something that sticks with you for a long time … a moment to remember and look back upon.”

He added that he expected fewer people to be excited for this year’s commencement speech after last year’s speech was given by Obama.

“Last year was such a big name and obviously it’s not a small name by any means, but I don’t think it’s someone who gets as many people excited as bringing in the president,” Teplitsky said.

Matthews first started his weeknight hour-long political analysis show “Hardball” in 1997 and has been at the role ever since, according to the release.

Before becoming a broadcast journalist, Matthews worked for 15 years at various newspapers, and prior to that, worked for 15 years as a speechwriter during former President Jimmy Carter’s term.

He has also written seven best-selling books about politics.

OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto said Matthews was a good choice for commencement speaker.

“On behalf of Ohio State, it is my pleasure to welcome one of the nation’s most experienced political journalists as our spring commencement speaker,” Alutto said in a released statement. “A longtime public servant, New York Times best-selling author and television news anchor Chris Matthews will offer a unique perspective on our country’s history and future.”

At Spring Commencement 2013, guests were required to get tickets to attend. No tickets are required this year, according to the commencement website.

About 10,000 students are expected to graduate this spring. Commencement is scheduled for May 4 at noon.


  1. Everyone had to laugh a little at the interim president calling Matthews a “political JOURNALIST”…really??? A journalist is how you would describe him?

  2. If this is Joe Alutto’s idea of a parting joke to the university, then I say that Joe lasted one semester too long. Following Obama’s selection last year, having Matthews as commencement speaker is a travesty, and it shows just how low this once great university has sunk in cowering to the ultra-liberal left. Frankly, I’m ashamed of my life membership in the Alumni Association.

  3. Having a left-wing, excitable political attack-dog as a commencement speaker at a world renowned university is completely inappropriate.

  4. I heard next year’s speaker is Bill O’reilly

  5. Ugh! Not another political pundit with a big ego!

    Chris Matthews is not fitting for the occasion of a college graduation.

    OSU clearly did not have the graduates in mind when choosing the speaker for their very important day. Most have no idea who he is and wouldn’t bother to cross the street to hear him.

  6. Chris Matthews quote:

    “What are we trying to do in this administration? Why does he want a second term? Would he tell us? What’s he going to do in the second term? More of this? Is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Where are we going? Are we going to do something the second term? He has yet to tell us. He has not said one thing about what he would do in the second term. He never tells us what he is going to do with reforming our healthcare systems, Medicare, Medicaid, how is going to reform Social Security. Is he going to deal with long-term debt? How? Is he going to reform the tax system? How? Just tell us. Why are we in this fight with him? Just tell us, Commander, give us our orders and tell us where we’re going, give us the mission. And he hasn’t done it.”


  7. what a kick in the a** to the class of 2014!!!
    there will be more people at commencement than what watch his tv show!
    Tosu just lost a whole lot of donations and donors!

  8. Really? You go from the worst President in my lifetime (Obama has overtaken Carter) to the guy who gets a thrill up his leg from Obama? Pretty sad.

  9. They should cancel him and ask John Glenn to speak. One of the most brilliant, accomplished and engaging minds in our lifetime that we are blessed to have as faculty.

  10. Isn’t the speaker chosen by USG?

  11. Associated 40 +years with the U. This may cost the U $100000. Pres club…will etc. Teetering on the edge.

  12. Matthews is a radical left wing idealog. Who the hell is making these decisions at Ohio State?

  13. Brent;

    Good question. Perhaps we should look into this and do our best to prevent such a travesty in the future, and hold accountable those making these highly partisan decisions.

  14. Well can The Lantern follow-up and report to us who made this decision and how?

  15. Universities can and do cancel speakers based on student reaction. But I agree with Tommy. Someone should say who chose Mathews. There’s now two stories at the lantern about this and nobody has disclosed how Mathews got chosen.


  16. No one is willing to own up to a bad decision. Seems to be a trend started by political administration, and trickling to academia. Bring on Marcus Luttrell! I am sure there are plenty who would like to hear him speak…not just the football team!

  17. Does Chris have a college diploma? If so, it must be bogus! I’m very concerned with the direction OSU is heading. We have a history of picking poor leadership at the top.

  18. When the next few calls come in asking for alumni donations I will decline and when they ask why? Because of this choice. Sorry Class of ’14 you deserve better

  19. Yes, the class of 2014 deserves better.

    I’ve just completed the excuse form so that I do not have to attend this ceremony. While I am a liberal and have had no problems with other political speakers in the past, this was supposed to be my special day. Instead, if I walked this May I would have to handle my family’s reactions to an attack-dog commentator, who would be offensive to their political views and not at all representative of my own.

    And yes folks, Chris Matthews is a “commentator” not a journalist. There is a difference. And that difference is now the ruination of my special day.

  20. Get a different speaker this guy will not be received well and probably get booed

  21. It is no-class moves like this that cause alums such as myself to send our kids and dollars elsewhere. Pretty sad! The student body should really get behind replacing Chris Mathews. There has to be a more inspiring speaker than a low-class commentator on one of the lowest rated programs on TV. If you students do not get excited about this, you will certainly have a very ho-hum special day, one that you will not want to remember.. As for me, we had the president of the United States at my commencement – now that’s a memory!

  22. I cannot believe this, another Democrat in a Republican State? Chris Matthews? You have got to be kidding! Why was that anti-American president invited to be speaker last year? As a former Ohio State resident, born in Ohio and went to school and college, BGSU, in Ohio taught for 9 years, I was, and am still a follower of both OSU and BGSU sports! This really astounds me! I could think of several speakers that would be 100 times better than what either of the two mentioned above would be especially since the present administration is leading our great country into socialism. Dr. Ben Carson would be one of the best speakers anyone could have for any event of this and and any other level. Another speaker that would top those two would be Charles Krauthammer or Marco Rubio. Also, there are a number of prominent Ohio people that would be better as well. If I had anything to say, I would cancel Matthews and find someone else! But I don’t, so best to all the graduates, you deserve someone better!

  23. 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.

  24. After last years selection I wrote to President Gee and shared my displeasure. He wrote back stating that it was an honor to have a sitting President give a commencement speech. I could only imagine how it would feel to have President Obama give my commencement speech. Personally I would be angry to have to listen to a person who is, at least in part, responsible for a poor economic environment and my inability to find a job when I graduate.

    This year, the graduates get to listen to Chris Matthews. If Chris Matthews is considered a journalist, then journalism truly is dead.

    Alumni need to have their voices heard. I would suggest every alumnus who is unhappy with this choice for commencement speaker call or write the alumni office. Let them know how you feel. We alumni offer a lot of support to the university, particularly with our wallets.

  25. Ghost of Walt Seifert

    @Matt: the alumni office has nothing to do with fundraising operations. The Development Office on the other hand does. Write to the president of the OSU Foundation, Michael Eicher, and tell him how you feel. The university spends over $25 million a year on fundraising operations and the gifts t receives in return are $85 million to $100 million.

  26. Back in my day the student governments had heavy input on the spring commencement speaker with advice from the VP of Student Affairs/Student Affairs committee. I’m not sure why that has changed…

  27. Proud Buckeye Alum and Democrat

    All you crazy pathetic Republicans that have a problem with President Obama or Chris Matthews as commencement speakers for The Ohio State University just need to go ahead and move your asses up to Michigan you bunch of losers.. How dare you question Ohio State’s decision. Why don’t you organize a Tea Party Rally and invite Sarah Palin to lead the protest outside Ohio Stadium?! Might as well get Fred Phelps Sr to join in, too. Oh wait he is dead. Ass-backwards idiots. OSU as an institute and the majority of the students are liberal and very much favor Democratic idealogy. Deal with it!

  28. Just the final liberal propaganda being shoved down the throats of the graduating students. I’m sure as they all sit in their seats they will all feel inspired by Chris Matthews words of wisdom or will they be to distracted by their student loans soon to be paid and no prospects of a good job. I pray for this graduating class and wish them the best success in their future endeavors and know that once they leave the influence of the liberal academia (no longer having to hide their political views for fear of retaliations) they will all get their “Right Minds” back.

  29. Wow, “Proud Buckeye Alum and Democrat”. You are really worked up. You could use a little work with your anger managment. You may end up having a stroke. Since you are such a staunch “Democrat” I’m glad you, surely, don’t own a firearm. You seem like you might be the type to start shooting at people if you did. Holy cow your angry.
    Oh, by the way, in reference to the “how dare we question etc., etc..” part of your post…..
    Well, you see, here in the United States, the “daring to question” part is our Constitutional Right. Millions of young Americans have fought for and many thousands have died to protect that right. As a matter of fact, the founding fathers thought that the right to freedom of speech was so important that they made it #1 on the top ten list that is the bill of rights.
    Remember, stay calm. Breathe in deeply then exhale slowly……..

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