The Ohio State University’s first in-person commencements since the COVID-19 pandemic began will feature remarks by the co-founder of vaccine producer Moderna and leaders in business, space exploration and lawmaking.
The May 9 spring commencements will include speakers Robert Langer, the co-founder and board member of the biotech firm Moderna, which produced one of the first COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S.; Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase; U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, whose district includes Ohio State; and NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa.
Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson said in a March 30 news release the speakers were chosen because they offer “a unique, wide-ranging perspective that mirrors that of our student body.”
In addition to the two spring graduation ceremonies, the school will honor 2020 graduates on Aug. 8, according to an earlier press release.
“We are partnering with state and local health officials on a plan to provide our students and their families with the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments safely in person,” Johnson said in the release.
The last in-person commencement held at Ohio State was on Dec. 15, 2019, when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, delivered an address to about 3,600 graduates at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Dimon’s company, Chase, has a close relationship with the university, recruiting more than 100 interns, hiring 90 people each year from Ohio State and employing more than 3,000 alumni. The company also partnered with the university to invest $2.5 million in two scholarship programs, the Morrill Scholars Program and the Young Scholars Program. Morrill provides funding to students who work to support diversity and social justice at the school. Young Scholars funds students from low-income backgrounds who are the first from their family to attend college.
Beatty served as senior vice president of outreach and engagement at Ohio State before being elected to Congress in 2013. She represents Ohio’s Third Congressional District, which includes Ohio State’s Columbus campus. Beatty is also chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee.
Ochoa is the chair of the National Science Board and previously served as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in addition to being an astronaut. She was the center’s first Hispanic director and the first Hispanic woman to go to space.