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Convocation ceremony welcomes new students to Ohio State

University leaders encourage building a caring community

A special ceremony to start the new academic year came with a call for a caring Buckeye community.

Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson joined university leaders encouraging new students to watch out for one another. Johnson quoted Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former Ohio State student Mary Oliver, asking students what their plan was “to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Johnson said she hoped part of that plan included caring for others.

“The Ohio State University is one of the greatest laboratories for self-discovery on Earth. If you look at it that way, you’re already launched on the adventure of your life. And beyond yourself, look for opportunities to take care of each other and understand how your actions influence your classmates’ ‘wild and precious lives,’ too,” she said.

Johnson spoke to thousands of new students who filled the Schottenstein Center for the annual convocation ceremony that helps welcome new students to the campus community on the eve of the first day of autumn semester.

Convocation is typically the only time until graduation that an entire undergraduate class is gathered. New graduate, professional and transfer students are also welcomed.

Senior Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers reminded the audience that their connection as Buckeyes makes them a family. This new family includes tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff and more than 500,000 alumni around the world.

“This is your university. We care about you and are here for you. And I ask that you, in turn, care about each other, treat each other with kindness, reach out to someone who may be struggling and take the opportunity to learn from and respect the multitude of backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives that you will find here,” she said.

Shivers encouraged students to get involved and engaged. Data shows that students who are involved on campus tend to succeed at higher rates in college and beyond, she said.

There are over 1,400 student organizations at Ohio State and over half of all students join a student organization. 

Part of creating a caring and engaged community includes treating people with respect, said Melissa L. Gilliam, executive vice president and provost. Gilliam said the university has resources and a commitment to free expression of ideas and civil discourse – all of which are part of the university community’s shared values.

“It’s an opportunity for us to use that sense of care and compassion as we discover one another’s ideas, one another’s perspectives and the unique background and diversity each of us brings,” she said.

Ohio State Alumni Association President and CEO Molly Ranz Calhoun helped close out the welcome ceremony with the presentation of a scarlet and gray tassel and a Block O pin to remind students of their shared goal and shared community.

“Welcome to the family, class of 2026,” she said. “And just like any family, this university’s commitment to you is never-ending.”

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