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Summer Commencement speaker selection involved students, set to cost $78K

OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto during an interview with The Lantern Sept. 23. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

Former Interim President Joseph Alutto was unanimously selected to be the speaker at Summer Commencement by a selection committee that included three students.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Buckeye TV news director

Unlike Spring Commencement, students were involved in the speaker selection process that unanimously chose former Interim President Joseph Alutto to speak at Summer Commencement.

In addition, Summer Commencement is set to cost nearly $78,000, while Spring Commencement totaled about $420,000, an Ohio State spokeswoman said in an email.

This time around, a newly configured Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee composed of three students, four staff members and six faculty selected the speaker rather than a group of top-ranking OSU officials.

The three students each represented one of OSU’s student government organizations —Undergraduate Student Government, the Council of Graduate Students, and the Inter-Professional Council. They were selected by the leadership of each organization, OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray said.

However, because of lack of time and changes in leadership, students were not involved in the selection process that brought political analyst Chris Matthews to OSU as the Spring Commencement speaker, Murray said in March.

Instead of a committee choosing the speaker like usual, Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz said during a March interview with The Lantern that he and others in the Office of Academic Affairs, including “all the vice provosts and vice presidents,” chose Matthews.

“It turns out in so much transition that was going on, the selection of a speaker came rather later than normal,” he said in the interview. “To get a prominent national figure to campus, you must have a nine to 10 month minimum lead time to make the arrangements, to make sure the schedule’s open, etc., for somebody … we (were) down to five months (when we started looking). It (was) a pretty quick timeline.”

As for future commencement speaker selections, Murray said students will continue to be involved as “vital” voices to the selection committee.

Murray said the committee is collaborating via email over the summer to pull together ideas about how to “effectively” and “inclusively” engage the OSU community in seeking speakers for all three of next year’s commencements.

“Once the committee has heard from the OSU community, a subgroup of the committee consisting of the three students and three faculty will determine the slate of candidates to put forth to the provost and ultimately to President Drake,” Murray said.

Summer Commencement is set to be held Aug. 10 at the Schottenstein Center. Approximately 1,800 students are expected to receive degrees. About 10,200 students received diplomas during Spring Commencement.

Alutto is slated to receive an honorary doctor of higher education at the event as well.

Since his start at OSU in 1991, Alutto has served in multiple leadership positions.

He became OSU’s interim president for the second time following the retirement of former President E. Gordon Gee in July 2013, before handing over the reins to Drake on June 30.

Before that, Alutto served as executive vice president and provost from 2007 to 2013. He was also the dean of the Fisher College of Business for 16 years.

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