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Commencement speaker choice draws mixed student reactions

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Archie Griffin (right), president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association, speaks during an investiture ceremony for president Michael Drake at Mershon Auditorium on March 31. Credit: Yann Schreiber / Lantern photographer

Archie Griffin is an Ohio State football great, but his selection as Spring Commencement speaker has been met with mixed reactions.

Griffin, president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association, is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history, and was a three-time All American in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Griffin earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial relations in 1976.

President Michael Drake asked Griffin to be the commencement speaker after he was endorsed by the OSU Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee.

“I’m thrilled that Archie has agreed to be our commencement speaker,” Drake said in a press release. “Our graduates will get a chance to hear from the ultimate Buckeye and a man whose hard work, generous spirit and philosophy of ‘paying forward’ has brought so much credit to this university.”

But some of the more than 10,000 graduates aren’t so thrilled.

“I was kind of hoping for a bigger celebrity or something, just because I’m graduating, probably for the only time,” said Kelsey Lane, a graduating senior in anthropology. “I understand that it’s a national championship football year, but I was just hoping it was a little bit different.”

Lane added that she thought Griffin was a good and articulate speaker, but that there might be a little too much emphasis on football, rather than academics, this year.

“I feel like he’s more popular with people my parents’ age,” Lane said. “So it makes my parents feel like they’re more connected to my graduation.”

Walker Lowell, a second-year in finance, said even though he’s not graduating, he can see the sports aspect playing into the speaker decision.

“That’s Ohio State. If you think about it, that’s why people come here. When people visit Ohio State, they visit the stadium,” Lowell said.

President Barack Obama spoke two years ago at Spring Commencement and Chris Matthews, a pundit for MSNBC, spoke at least year’s ceremony.

Lowell said he thought some students were upset because of the caliber of speakers in past years.

“I can understand that people are upset, but at the same time, if you’re the university, you can’t follow up Obama,” he said. “There’s going to be somebody that’s let down.”

But not all students are disappointed in the choice.

Tim Cappel, a fourth-year in biology, said he thinks it’s more special that an OSU alumnus is giving the speech rather than someone from the outside.

“It’s really awesome to have someone who’s just the epitome of what it means to be a Buckeye to give us that final push as we leave to start real life,” he said.

 

17 comments

  1. It’s Archie. Football fan or no, the guy lives and breathes OSU. Perfect choice.

  2. Can you imagine if President Drake selected himself to speak at commencement?

  3. Archie demonstrates integrity, service, and excellence in the way he lives his life. The graduating class would do well to follow that example.

  4. I know Mr. Griffin personally, albeit through our mutual association with Athletics, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated, professional and honored representative of the tenets of the University!

  5. It is a great choice to have Archie speak rather than another outside liberal. I think Archie will speak more about academics than some people may think. He will not offend anyone and he is a class act.

  6. Archie Griffin is a the exact opposite of an honorable man with integrity. He sold his soul a long time ago for the easy life inside OSU’s bureaucracy. If he had character he would’ve stood up for Jon Waters. And btw, I don’t care about the band, I just care about exposing the charlatans within OSU’s ranks and Archie is one of the worst.

  7. A guy going by “Dildo Baggins” is saying someone lacks honor and integrity?

  8. Another Anonymous poster

    It’s not that I’m not happy to have Archie speaking at my commencement, but he speaks at every major Ohio State function already, including graduations. It’s an expectation because he is the ultimate Buckeye representative. It’s just kind of anticlimactic because guest speaker (other than him) or not, he’d probavly be giving a speech anyway.

  9. I guess the Alumni Association thought they were waiting too long to start asking for donations from graduates, so they’re having their president ask immediately before given out diplomas

  10. Any resourceful Ohio State Student could see Archie Griffin speak on campus multiple times a year. Archie Griffin is an accomplished man, but I could understand how students may feel like their “special day” is not so special when OSU basically selects one of their own faculty.

  11. Commencement speakers shouldn’t be chosen based on celebrity, they should be chosen based on their ability to give wisdom to the outgoing graduates. I think Archie can do that.

  12. Did Obama teach OSU students how to seal their school records?

  13. Archie will give the same speech he gives at every event he speaks at– one in which he talks about his four heroes and time playing football at Ohio State. The university did not have to pick a high profile celebrity, however putting the icon of Ohio State football in the year we win the National Championship and expect he will not highlight football for 80% of his speech is crazy.

  14. I really did not come here for football, and sports came into 0% of my decision. I was really hoping that I would get a good speaker for our graduation. I’m very disappointed that I will be forced to hear about football during my special day. We deserve someone to speak from an academic stand point since that should be the main reason anyone goes to any school.

  15. Bet Dildo Baggins is dating Joobs. They can live happily ever after defending their honorable nicknames.

  16. Excellent choice. I went to High School with this man. If you wanted some left wing hack speaking, maybe you should have attended scUM…

  17. Booo. Head him speak when my daughter came to OSU 4 years ago. It was OK.

    Ought to have a step up for Commencement 4 years later. Can’t OSU get anybody?

    Oh, I forgot it’s all about football there. He is not important outside Columbus and the football alumni.

    Can’t you get anybody who has really gone out in the world and done something?
    Isn’t anybody running for office?

    Since Gee left, so has the sizzle.

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