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Sen. Rob Portman to be keynote speaker at Ohio State’s Autumn Commencement

Senator Rob Portman introduces Vice President Mike Pence at Dynalab, Inc. in Reynoldsburg on April 1. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Former Photo Editor

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will be the keynote speaker at Autumn Commencement, Ohio State announced Monday.

A native of Cincinnati, Portman didn’t attend Ohio State, but has represented the state of Ohio in Washington for almost two decades. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1993, and served until 2005. Portman was elected to the Senate in 2010 and was re-elected in 2016.

“Senator Portman has represented Ohio as an active, involved and committed citizen at the highest levels of government,” University President Michael Drake said in a press release. “He participates regularly in many of the most important conversations of our time and has a broad and lengthy record of service and legislative engagement.

“His extensive knowledge and experience will energize our students as they consider ways they might create their own mark on our broader world.”

After serving from 2005 to 2007 as the United States Trade Representative and then as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Portman left government and worked at a law firm in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Portman announced his candidacy for Senate, and defeated Democrat Lee Fisher with 57 percent of the vote. Portman handily won re-election in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote, topping former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Last year, Timothy Gerber, a professor in the School of Music, was the keynote speaker at Autumn Commencement.

Ohio State having politicians speak at commencements isn’t a rare occurrence. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, a Democrat who represents Ohio’s third district, spoke at Summer Commencement in August.

Former President Barack Obama addressed graduates at Spring Commencement in 2013.

Portman attended Dartmouth College for his undergraduate degree and received his law degree from the University of Michigan.

Autumn Commencement is set for Dec. 17 at the Schottenstein Center.


  1. Oh, good, he can look the generation whose economy he’s ruining with his tax bill in the face.

  2. I have two sons graduating and this announcement makes me ill. Why would the great Ohio State University choose a politically charged figure at a time when people come together to celebrate? This is extremely insensitive, to say the least.

  3. I don’t understand why the University thinks it is a good idea to invite a speaker who is supporting a tax bill that will screw over students while giving tax breaks to large corporations and the super wealthy. This is looking for trouble on a day when people just want to celebrate their accomplishment.

  4. This is appalling. Portman just voted for a tax bill that makes graduate education even more difficult than it already is and OSU thinks its good idea to have him speak at graduation? Embarrassed to be a buckeye today and glad I’m not graduating this semester.

  5. I am disgusted with OSU. What does this tell our daughters? It tells them who cares.

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