16:00 PM

Ohio State University autumn graduates earn degrees, hear inspirational address

Former congressman and Ohio State alum Pat Tiberi tells graduates he’s been living the American dream

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University awarded 3,754 degrees during autumn commencement ceremonies on Sunday. That’s the most degrees for an autumn graduation in university history, and the Schottenstein Center was packed to the top with families and friends eager to see their loved ones graduate.

Commencement speaker Pat Tiberi, former congressman and now CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, recounted how, 33 years earlier, he was sitting where graduates were, full of pride in getting his degree and equally full of wonder and anticipation about what the world and years ahead would hold.

Tiberi is the son of Italian immigrants. He became first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college. He went on to be elected to Congress – representing central Ohio’s 12th district for 17 years in the U.S. House.

He challenged graduates to think about their own new American dream.

“Some of you certainly are thinking that my family’s immigration was another time and place, and that things aren’t the same today,” Tiberi said.

“Some cynics among you may wonder if the American dream still exists. Lest we become too cynical, let’s remember this: across the globe there are millions who would endure any hardship, confront any danger, and sacrifice everything they have to get here.

“They see the opportunity, just as one of your ancestors saw the opportunity, and left their homes and families and friends in search of a better life in America – in search of the American dream.

“But know this – your American dream will be different than mine or my parents’ or those of your forebears. It will respond to today’s opportunities and today’s challenges,” he told graduates.

Tiberi also had graduates stand up and say to their loved ones, “Thank you. I love you.”

Also during the ceremony, the university presented the Distinguished Service Award to Deborah A. Ballam, professor emerita who played a major role in the creation of The Women’s Place, and Valerie B. Lee, professor emerita and former vice provost and chief diversity officer.