02:45 AM

Archie Griffin returns to Ohio Stadium to deliver commencement address

Ohio State University graduates will hear from one of the most iconic figures in the institution’s history at spring commencement.

Archie Griffin, president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association and senior vice president for alumni relations and the only two-time winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy, will address more than 10,000 graduates and their families during the ceremony, which begins at noon on Sunday, May 10 at Ohio Stadium.

Griffin thrilled Buckeyes with his exploits on the football field and has spent his professional career serving the university and its alumni.

Archie Griffin

In addition to the honor of being selected to deliver the commencement address, the day will have special significance for Griffin. His son, Adam, is one of the graduates, and it marks nearly 40 years since his own graduation in March 1976.

“I’m thrilled that Archie has agreed to be our commencement speaker,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “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. The fact that his son, Adam, will be one of our graduates makes May 10th even more special for the entire Griffin family.”

Ohio State holds three commencement ceremonies each year and the spring ceremony is the largest. This will mark the fourth consecutive spring that the graduating class has exceeded 10,000. Diplomas are handed individually to each graduate in a single ceremony, a practice rarely attempted by a university the size of Ohio State.

As leader of the network of more than 500,000 Ohio State alumni, Griffin will welcome students at the moment they transition to being graduates and alumni.

Griffin is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy. A three-time All-American, he is included in the NCAA’s 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes. He is a member of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame board of directors and is in its Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was honored as All-Century Player by the Tournament of Roses Association, in celebration of the 100th anniversary Rose Bowl game. Griffin played in four consecutive Rose Bowl games under legendary coach Woody Hayes.

Griffin earned his degree in industrial relations. In 1976, he was a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals, where he served as co-captain and played with the franchise for seven years.

He returned to his alma mater in 1984 and rose to become associate director of athletics for sports. He became president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association in 2004.

Locally, Griffin has been inducted in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Circle of Champions, which recognizes former Ohio high school student-athletes who have demonstrated outstanding character and accomplishments both on and off the field. He is in the Columbus Public Schools Hall of Fame.

Griffin created the Archie Griffin Scholarship Fund, which benefits Ohio State’s Olympic sports programs. He and his wife, Bonita, formed the Archie and Bonita Griffin Foundation Fund that helps develop sports, educational and travel programs for youth in central Ohio. He also serves on many boards and foundations.

He was invited to speak by the president after he was endorsed as speaker by the university’s Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty and staff. The committee received hundreds of suggestions for commencement speaker through the public portal where nominations can be made.

Also during the ceremony, the university will award honorary degrees to Michael L. J. Apuzzo, one of the world’s best known and respected neurological surgeons; David Lang, an American composer who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize; and Kathleen Sebelius, a native Ohioan with a long and distinguished career in public service.

The university also will award Distinguished Service Awards to Jameson Crane, a 1947 graduate of Ohio State and chairman emeritus of the Crane Group in Columbus, and Nancy Zimpher, a three-time alumna and former dean of the College of Education, as it was called then.