Ohio State Interim President Joseph Alutto offered simple advice and well wishes to more than 1,800 graduates at OSU’s 404th commencement Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
“You did it, so congratulations,” Alutto said.
Summer Commencement graduates ranged in age from 18 to 66 and represented 39 states and 55 countries.
Alutto presided over the ceremony, one of his first public duties since he assumed the role of interim president July 1.
He gave graduates two pieces of advice.
“You’re recognized not by your intentions but how you actually behave,” Alutto said. “Whatever you do, never, never trade personal integrity for the trappings of prestige or the approval of others.”
Alutto then urged graduates to cultivate personal connections, even in an era of digital communication.
“Take the time to know people,” he said. “You have to interact face to face and not always text to text.”
Ann Hamilton, a professor in the Department of Art, delivered the commencement address, emphasizing that commencement is just a beginning.
“It may be your last day as an undergraduate or a graduate student, but it is your commencement toward everything else,” Hamilton said.
This beginning harbors uncertainty for many, but Hamilton said graduates should embrace that feeling and use it to their advantage.
“Inhabit the unknowing where you might find what you need,” she said.
Two paths exist in life, Hamilton said, one of sureness and the other less assured. Being unsure and realizing what they still don’t know is where graduates will create their lives, she said.
Hamilton added that graduates should remain a blank page.
“That blank page may be empty of words, but it is full of the space of possibility,” Hamilton said.
She recommended graduates think for themselves and stay open to life’s possibilities. Only from an open mind can they chose who they will become, she said.
Some graduates enjoyed the open-ended nature of the speech.
“It was very philosophical,” Megan Hoppe, a graduate in chemical engineering, said. “It set you off thinking, not just listening.”
Others found Hamilton’s remarks motivational.
“It relieved a lot of stress you could have,” Daniel Diaz, a graduate in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, said. “I was actually quite inspired by it.”
Britni Boyer, a graduate in early childhood education, agreed.
“It was great, it was really inspirational,” she said.
Boyer added that she thought Hamilton’s message offered a hopeful outlook toward the future.
Archie Griffin closed the ceremony by initiating an O-H-I-O chant and encouraging students to continue their involvement with their alma mater.
“Wherever you go, please note that Ohio State is there and you take Ohio State with you,” he said.
Alutto returned to the stage for an hour following the ceremony to take pictures with graduates and their families.