Ohio State Seniors Slam Chris Matthews' Selection as Commencement Speaker

Ohio State University seniors are none too pleased to be having Chris Matthews as their commencement speaker, and it's not simply a question of politics, reports Collin Binkley of the Columbus Dispatch.

No, it seems many Buckeyes don't know who the heck the MSNBC host is in the first place, and, quite frankly, they think their school really didn't try all that hard to get a better, higher-profile speaker, much less listen to student input (emphasis mine):


Some Ohio State University students are upset that they had no say in picking this year’s spring commencement speaker, a break with past practice.

Provost Joseph Steinmetz and his Office of Academic Affairs alone decided to invite MSNBC talk-show host Chris Matthews to speak at the May 4 ceremony at Ohio Stadium. In the past, the university asked a committee of students and staff for a recommendation. This year, there wasn’t time, OSU officials said.

“Because of time constraints and leadership changes during the past year, the decision was made to use a more streamlined approach to speaker selection for spring 2014 commencement,” OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email.

Amid the search for a new president and other shuffles in top jobs, Steinmetz and his office made the final decision, Lewis said.

News that Matthews will speak hasn’t been well-received among students, said Taylor Stepp, president of the undergraduate student government. Complaints about Matthews’s liberal views are common, Stepp said, but students are equally upset that the university didn’t draw a bigger name.

“The response from students is simply that we don’t know who this guy is, we don’t care about this guy,” Stepp said. “And the fact that Mr. Matthews obviously has a very liberal leaning and he’s not even a public official was irksome to me.”

An appointment to the speaker-selection committee has traditionally been seen as prestigious, Stepp said. Each year, the undergraduate student government named one person to the group. But repeated attempts to contact OSU officials about the committee this year were never returned, Stepp said.

Some have defended the pick. Leaders of the College Democrats group at Ohio State said last week that they expect Matthews to deliver a strong message, free of politics. University officials called Matthews one of the most-experienced journalists in the country.

Matthews, the host of Hardball, follows a string of OSU commencement speakers who come from the political world. President Barack Obama spoke last year, following Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Susan E. Rice, a representative to the United Nations and now a member of Obama’s cabinet.

According to his official Ohio State biography page, Dr. Steinmetz is an acclaimed neuroscientist with expertise in studying, among other things, "the effects of alcohol on neural and behavioral function."

So if the good doctor is seen furiously scribbling notes during Matthews' speech, well, let's just say it's probably research related.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.