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Graduates praised for their grit, determination at Ohio State’s commencement

More than 1,800 degrees and certificates awarded during 2022 summer ceremony

In the words of The Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson, few commencement speakers have had such a direct impact on the lives of students as Jane Grote Abell.

“How many of you have relied on great Columbus-style, edge-to-edge pizzas from Donatos to get you through Ohio State?” Johnson asked graduates at the 2022 summer commencement.

Johnson spoke of Grote Abell’s business track record and her family’s commitment to bettering the community that made Donatos a success. The obstacles that the company faced over the years only served to make it more successful, Johnson said: Challenges often serve as a chance for new opportunities – personally, professionally, even globally. 

“Graduates, you are moving into a world where, after a series of shocks, many of us are no longer confident in our footing,” Johnson said. “The old assumptions seem to no longer apply. We need you to help us develop new assumptions – so we can find our balance in uncertain terrain.”

Grote Abell, a Columbus native and executive chairwoman of the board and chief purpose officer at Donatos Pizza, spoke to the new graduates and their families and friends about persistence in the face of a global pandemic.

“When classes resumed, you showed up,” Grote Abell said. “And even though the whole world was overwhelmed – with fear, anxiety and uncertainty – you kept showing up. You unlearned the old and embraced the new. You adjusted, adapted, adopted and persevered. Think about that word for a moment: perseverance. ‘The continued effort to achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition.’ The class of 2022, your class, you, embody and continue to embody the effort to achieve, despite enormous difficulties.”

“You can’t predict what life will put in your path, but you have already demonstrated that you have what it takes to persevere,” she said. “As you leave Ohio State, I hope you fall in love with your purpose, not just your plan. And then use your purpose every day to guide you on your way.”

Johnson called for a moment of silence in honor of Mason Fisher, a second-year College of Medicine student who passed away while participating in Pelotonia this weekend.

Grote Abell was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration during the ceremony. Ruth D. Peterson received the Distinguished Service Award for her years of academic service to the university.

Of the 1,805 degrees awarded Sunday, 299 were doctorates, 531 master’s, 12 professional, 943 bachelor’s and 20 certificates. Graduates hail from nearly 55 countries, including Australia, Chile, Guatemala and Ukraine.

Number of degrees and certificates

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