Ohio State honors four at spring 2014 commencement

News Release Date: 
05.02.14

Chris Matthews, host of ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC, will address graduates

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State University will honor four individuals during the spring commencement ceremony, where 10,200 graduates will receive diplomas. Commencement begins at noon on Sunday, May 4, at Ohio Stadium.

Honorary doctorates will be presented to Chris Matthews and Barry Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Professor of Public Health in the Harvard School of Public Health.  

Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to Mac A. Stewart, former vice provost for Ohio State’s Office of Minority Affairs, who was essential in promoting the creation of a diverse student, faculty and staff population; and John B. “Jay” Gerlach Jr., a 1976 graduate and chairman and CEO of Lancaster Colony Corp., who provides highly engaged leadership to many Ohio State groups.

The commencement ceremony will be available via a live video stream. The stream begins at noon. Watch: http://commencement.osu.edu/video.html. In addition, excerpts from the ceremony will be broadcast on WOSU-TV, Channel 34, at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 5.

Chris Matthews, Doctor of Communication

A television news anchor with remarkable depth of experience, Chris Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcaster, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter, Capitol Hill chief of staff and best-selling author during his long career.

Matthews began his professional life in public service, working in the U.S. Senate for five years for Sen. Frank Moss of Utah and Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine; in the White House for four years under President Jimmy Carter as a speechwriter and on the President’s Reorganization Project; and for six years as top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O'Neill Jr.

After cutting his teeth in politics, Matthews turned to journalism. From 1987 to 2000, he served as Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner, followed by a two-year term as a nationally syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. During his time as a reporter, he covered many important historic events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election ever held in South Africa. In 1994, he began his television career on the NBC-owned America’s Talking network before launching his popular show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” three years later on MSNBC.

Matthews has received the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Pennsylvania Society. He is the author of multiple best-selling books, including Hardball: How Politics is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game; Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America; Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero; and Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked.

A graduate of Holy Cross College, Matthews did graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He worked for two years as a trade development adviser with the U.S. Peace Corps in the southern African nation of Swaziland.

Barry R. Bloom, Doctor of Science

For the past half century, Barry Bloom of Cambridge, Mass., has been a pioneer in the field of global health. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology from Amherst College and his PhD in immunology from Rockefeller University, Bloom established himself as one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists in the areas of infectious diseases, vaccines and health policy.

His exceptional body of research – primarily focused on immunology and the pathogenesis of leprosy and tuberculosis – has shown an enduring commitment to the application of cutting-edge science to alleviate the infectious disease burden of the developing world. Through his impressive work, Bloom has improved vaccine approaches for tuberculosis and discovered crucial breakthroughs in how immune responses protect against microbial threats. He has published more than 350 articles and continues to provide commentary on current public health concerns ranging from TB to HIV to obesity.

His fundamental contributions have made him a trusted public health policy adviser. He served as an adviser to the White House on International Health Policy, and for more than 40 years, he has been extensively involved with the World Health Organization, where he chaired the Research Advisory Committees on Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Tropical Diseases. He also has been a member of the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research.

Bloom has received many honors for his lifelong dedication to infectious disease research and education, including the first Bristol-Meyers Squibb Award for Distinguished Research in Infectious Diseases and the Robert Koch Gold Medal for lifetime research in infectious diseases. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Philosophical Society. He is currently a Distinguished Service Professor and Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Professor of Public Health at Harvard University, where he served as dean of the School of Public Health from 1999 to 2008.

John B. Gerlach Jr., Distinguished Service Award

John B. “Jay” Gerlach Jr. of Columbus has been an engaged and dedicated supporter of Ohio State since his graduation more than three decades ago. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio State, Gerlach upheld his family’s legacy of philanthropy and public service while serving in various capacities at Lancaster Colony Corp., a specialty foods manufacturer and marketer founded in 1961 by his father and grandfather.

Gerlach’s service history is diverse and robust. In 1997, the same year he was named chair and CEO of Lancaster Colony Corp., he also was elected to the University Foundation board of directors, where he served as board chair from 2009 to 2013. He currently serves as a board member for Huntington Bancshares, Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Recreation Unlimited Foundation. He has been chair of the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital board since 2004, and for almost two decades, he has served on the Dean’s Advisory Council at Fisher College of Business.

Nearly every year since 1979, Gerlach and his family have supported a variety of initiatives, from scholarships and building projects to medical, polar and wetlands research. They contributed generously to Fisher and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, supporting the medical center expansion and the creation of Fisher’s state-of-the-art business campus. Gerlach and his wife, Aleusha, also have provided charitable backing of the medical center’s Neurosciences Program, which has enabled physicians and scholars to embark on innovative research to improve patients’ lives.

By giving of his time and resources, Gerlach has helped shape the future of Ohio State, and he has strengthened the university’s relationship with the Columbus corporate community. As a natural ambassador for the university, he has championed the Ohio Scholarship Challenge, and served on multiple committees supporting Ohio State’s Affirm Thy Friendship and But for Ohio State campaigns.

Mac A. Stewart, Distinguished Service Award

Though Mac A. Stewart retired in 2010, his visionary leadership at Ohio State left a lasting impression on the entire community. As a much-admired administrator, scholar and mentor, Stewart dedicated his 40-year career at Ohio State to improving the delivery of educational services for socioeconomically deprived and culturally different students.

Stewart joined Ohio State as a residence hall director and doctoral student in the early 1970s. After earning his doctorate in higher education administration, he became assistant dean of University College, where he spent 27 years and ultimately served as dean.

During his tenure, he developed programs to recruit and retain a diverse student body. While serving as vice provost for minority affairs and special assistant to the president for diversity, he was instrumental in the creation of the acclaimed Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. 

An icon of service, Stewart served on more than 30 committees at Ohio State, including two presidential search committees, University Senate and the Council of Deans. He also served on external evaluation teams for various higher education institutions, and on numerous boards, such as the Buckeye Boys Ranch, Columbus Academy, Mount Carmel College of Nursing, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help.

Stewart has received many honors, notably the Josephine Sitterle Failer Award from Ohio State’s Alumni Association and the Frederick Patterson Award from the Greater Columbus United Negro College Fund. As a faculty member in the College of Education and Human Ecology, he published widely in a variety of professional journals. In 1983, he was selected as a member of the editorial board of The Negro Educational Review, where he also served as chair of the editorial board and editor-in-chief.

A practicing psychologist for decades, Stewart received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in counseling from Atlanta University.

About The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is a dynamic community of diverse resources, where opportunity thrives and where individuals transform themselves and the world. Founded in 1870, Ohio State is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 57,000 in Columbus), the Wexner Medical Center, 14 colleges, 80 centers and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions.