The 3,772 graduates who filed into the Schottenstein Center Sunday received their long-awaited diplomas and words of advice from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown at the fall commencement ceremony.
The number of graduates exceeded 2018’s fall commencement record number of 3,754. Brown, who is currently serving his third term in the U.S. Senate, gave the commencement address, in which he leaned on the past to inspire the current generation of graduates.
The ceremony awarded 208 doctoral degrees, 425 master’s degrees, five professional degrees, two graduate school certificates and 3,132 undergraduate degrees and certificates.
University President Michael V. Drake introduced Brown by recognizing his service to both the state and country.
“U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has devoted his life to serving our state and nation. Throughout his career, he has worked to enhance the lives of all Americans, emphasizing the importance of equality, dignity and justice,” Drake said.
Drake went on to note Brown’s accomplishments, which include his first election to the Ohio legislature in 1974, when he served for eight years. Brown then served two terms as Ohio Secretary of State before representing Ohio’s 13th District as a Congressman. In 2006, Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Brown opened his speech with a reference to the current divide between generations and the challenges young adults today must overcome.
“I got to think that some of you see me with the gray hair, the job title, as a member of the generation who saddled you with climate change and student debt and economic policies that work for fewer and fewer people. I got to think some of you are looking up here and thinking ‘OK, boomer,’” Brown said. “I wouldn’t really blame you.”
Brown also said he believed in the younger generations’ ability to overcome the challenges they face.
“Luckily, young people have never been especially good at quietly accepting the hand that you’re dealt,” Brown said.
Brown then acknowledged the progress the U.S. has made despite the difficult political climate.
Brown spoke of former Congressman Justin Morrill, namesake of Morrill Tower, and his idea of making higher education available to all. Brown said Morrill believed the U.S. would be stronger if higher education were widespread. Brown added Ohio State embodies this idea of higher education for all.
He concluded his speech with words of advice for the graduating class.
“If you take two words out of this hall, out of this arena, out of this historic campus, out into your lives that you’re about to build for yourselves, let it be those — humanity and dignity,” Brown said.
Following Brown’s address, Drake reminded the graduates to stay true to their values, make good decisions and simply do their best.
“Before you make a decision, consult your inner compass and then do what you know is right,” Drake said. “Good decisions lead to good places — like where you are at this moment.”