Ohio State graduates celebrate 2020 autumn commencement
President Johnson delivers message of optimism
The Ohio State University honored the work and commitment of new graduates during a virtual autumn commencement ceremony today.
It was the first commencement ceremony for President Kristina M. Johnson since she assumed office this summer. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, no graduates were physically present.
Johnson delivered a message focusing on optimism, kindness and community during a ceremony at the Covelli Center that included a small group of university leaders and guests.
Johnson acknowledged the challenges this graduating class faced as the COVID-19 pandemic rages and racial and political divisions continue in the nation. After surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Johnson said, she learned that being positive is a state of mind that can alter the physical universe.
“When I talk about optimism, I don’t mean to suggest that bad things can’t happen to good people. Clearly, they can. The world has lost a lot of very wonderful people in this pandemic, and my heart goes out to their families and friends,” she said. “I am just saying that when we combine positivity with persistence, we are at our most powerful as human beings, and we can crack open doors that would otherwise have remained shut. So, stay sunny even in dim times, and have faith in yourselves.”
Johnson addressed the nearly 4,000 graduates who were granted degrees during the ceremony. Of those, 196 received doctoral degrees and 431 received a master’s degree. Students in the class hailed from nearly 58 countries and five continents, including Canada, Ecuador, Ghana, Peru, Romania and Sri Lanka.
Jerry Revish, an ordained minister and former television news anchor for WBNS-TV, delivered the commencement address. Revish retired last November after 45 years as a reporter and anchor in television and radio.
“We need all the good scientists, doctors, lawyers, social workers and other skilled people who make up the class of 2020,” he said. “But we also need, simply, good people to come out of this class.”
Revish called for optimism as well, while recognizing the challenges facing this generation of graduates. He said he has already seen this class do great things, citing their activism over the summer following the death of George Floyd, when they voted in November and when they served the less fortunate during the pandemic.
“So despite all the challenges facing our country today, I’m extremely optimistic about the future you’re going help create for it,” he said. “For the breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology you’ll bring. For all the communities you’ll breathe new life into.”
Video of the event – including a pre-ceremony program – will be made available to the public and television stations across Ohio at https://commencement.osu.edu/. Excerpts from the commencement ceremony will be rebroadcast on WOSU-TV, Channel 34, at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14.
Graduates will receive their degrees and a copy of the commencement program in the mail at their permanent address. The university will hold a physical recognition event later when it is safe to do so. Members of the graduating class will be actively involved in the scheduling and planning of that event.