Some Ohio State students set to graduate in May said the commencement speaker is a somewhat surprising choice, especially after last year’s speech was given by President Barack Obama.
Some, however, are hoping OSU’s selection will still give a memorable speech without playing hard ball.
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC political talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” is set to speak at Ohio State’s Spring 2014 Commencement May 4 at Ohio Stadium.
Caleb Inboden, a fourth-year in theatre and graduating senior, said he was expecting to see someone associated with OSU chosen.
“I was a little confused at first,” Inboden said. “Last year, they got President Obama and even for the fall commencement, they got R.L. Stine who’s associated with the university, so I was wondering their reasoning behind it.”
Matthews graduated from Holy Cross College in 1967 and has served as a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
Stine, meanwhile, is an OSU graduate.
“I wouldn’t say (Matthews is) a bad choice,” Inboden said. “He’s just one that kind of brings up some questions. Not in a bad way, just why he was chosen or what their reasoning (was).”
After the announcement was made that Matthews would be the speaker, many students used social media to voice their thoughts on the choice. Some expressed disapproval, and even disgust, with the choice, complaining about his liberal views.
Many view Matthews as a liberal pundit, and a review in The New York Times for his book “Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked” called him “an MSNBC talking head” and said he had a “brand of confidently asserted overgeneralization.”
Some students, though, said Matthews was a good choice.
“He asks really good questions of the politicians that come on (his show),” said Micah Dillard, a fourth-year in political science and economics. “He’s definitely a little soft on the people that come from the left, but I think he’s a pretty solid journalist.”
Dillard also said he expects Matthews will give a fairly typical graduation speech.
“Last year it was Barack Obama, so it’s sort of a hard act to follow up,” he said. “I’m looking forward to see what he has to say.”
Seth Teplitsky, a fourth-year in biology, said he was indifferent about the selection, but he hopes the speech will be meaningful.
“In a commencement speech, it doesn’t necessarily matter what direction they go with it, you just want something memorable,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something that sticks with you for a long time … a moment to remember and look back upon.”
He added that he expected fewer people to be excited for this year’s commencement speech after last year’s speech was given by Obama.
“Last year was such a big name and obviously it’s not a small name by any means, but I don’t think it’s someone who gets as many people excited as bringing in the president,” Teplitsky said.
Matthews first started his weeknight hour-long political analysis show “Hardball” in 1997 and has been at the role ever since, according to the release.
Before becoming a broadcast journalist, Matthews worked for 15 years at various newspapers, and prior to that, worked for 15 years as a speechwriter during former President Jimmy Carter’s term.
He has also written seven best-selling books about politics.
OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto said Matthews was a good choice for commencement speaker.
“On behalf of Ohio State, it is my pleasure to welcome one of the nation’s most experienced political journalists as our spring commencement speaker,” Alutto said in a released statement. “A longtime public servant, New York Times best-selling author and television news anchor Chris Matthews will offer a unique perspective on our country’s history and future.”
At Spring Commencement 2013, guests were required to get tickets to attend. No tickets are required this year, according to the commencement website.
About 10,000 students are expected to graduate this spring. Commencement is scheduled for May 4 at noon.