One hundred and fifty years of tradition were upended by COVID-19 for the second time as Ohio State celebrated its second virtual commencement ceremony with pomp, albeit changed circumstance, from the Schottenstein Center Sunday.
At the ceremony, which was the 425th in university history, the university awarded more than 1,700 degrees — 253 doctorate degrees, 547 Masters degrees, 948 undergraduate degrees and 15 graduate professional degrees — and certificates to the summer class of 2020, Melissa Shivers, vice president for student life, said.
The almost hour-long ceremony, broadcasted on the university commencement website and on the Ohio Channel, featured remarks from Ohio State basketball alum, NBA All-Star, and CEO and founder of investment firm 22 Ventures, Michael Redd.
Spaced out from the other speakers in the Schottenstein Center, Redd told the class that their perseverance, tenacity and drive in graduating amid the COVID-19 pandemic will carry them to the next chapters of their lives.
“You were born for this time,” Redd said. “In the middle of our world being in flux, social unrest, a pandemic, chaos all around us. It really is a new reality among us. But I want to challenge you and encourage you that in the midst of this new reality, there is new opportunity.”
Executive Vice President and University Provost Bruce McPheron offered his congratulations, as well as congratulations on the behalf of incoming University President Kristina M. Johnson, to the class, telling them that the disruption in the world adds significance to their degrees.
“These are extraordinary times,” McPheron said. “They’ve affected everything in our lives, including the way you completed your journey at Ohio State. But you’re a member of the next wave of leaders who will address challenges like COVID-19, racial injustice and so many other issues that face our communities.”
McPheron said that they are celebrating academic careers today while looking forward to an in-person celebration on campus when it is safe to do so.
Last year, the university awarded 1,661 degrees to the summer class of 2019. This year’s commencement marked a 6.1 percent increase from the year before, continuing the university’s streak of largest graduating classes for the sixth consecutive year.
Like McPheron, Redd stressed that the graduating class were members of the next generation of leaders, advising them to not be scared of failing and to take risks.
“I believe you have all the qualities to impact this world, to make a difference in this world, because this world needs your voice,” Redd said. “We need your ingenuity, we need your innovation, we need your genius.”