Class of 2021 Undergraduate Commencement

Important Dates and Times

See the list of topics at the bottom of this page for more information.

Date Event Time/Location
Thursday, April 8 Bookstore and Josten’s Graduation Open House 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Bookstore
Thursday, April 15 Graduation Application Due Apply for Graduation in Banner using these instructions
Friday, April 16 – Tuesday, April 20 Ticket Registration An email will be sent on April 16 with ticket registration information
Wednesday, April 21 Grad Fair 2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Campus Center Front Patio
Monday, April 26 Lavender Graduation 5 p.m. Virtual
Friday, April 30 Noble Transitions 5:30 p.m. Westerville Amphitheater
Friday, April 30 Baccalaureate Service 7 p.m. Cowan Hall and streaming online
Sunday, May 2 Class of 2021 Commencement 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., & 5:30 p.m. Memorial Stadium and streaming online (see below)


Commencement 2021 will be held Sunday, May 2, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., & 5:30 pm. EST. The ceremonies will be located at Memorial Stadium and streamed live online.

Graduation Day – Sunday, May 2, 2021, 9:30 a.m. Ceremony
8:30 a.m. Davis parking lot opens for guests attending 9:30 a.m. ceremony
8:30 a.m. Bookstore and flower sales begin in front of Memorial Stadium
8:30 a.m. Gates open at Memorial Stadium
8:30 a.m. March line-up begins – Towers Hall front lawn
9:15 a.m. Commencement March across campus begins
9:30 a.m. Ceremony
Student Speaker: Fernando Alex Natividad Cruz
Invited Speaker: Jeffrey Wilson ’85
Graduation Day – Sunday, May 2, 2021, 1:30 p.m. Ceremony
12:30 p.m. Campus Center parking lot opens for guests attending 1:30 p.m. ceremony
12:30 p.m. Bookstore and flower sales continue in front of Memorial Stadium
12:30 p.m. Gates open at Memorial Stadium
12:30 p.m. March line-up begins – Towers Hall front lawn
1:15 p.m. Commencement March across campus begins
1:30 p.m. Ceremony
Student Speaker: Angel Banks
Invited Speaker: Corrine Burger
Graduation Day – Sunday, May 2, 2021, 5:30 p.m. Ceremony
4:30 p.m. Davis parking lot opens for guests attending 5:30 p.m. ceremony
4:30 p.m. Bookstore and flower sales continue in front of Memorial Stadium
4:30 p.m. Gates open at Memorial Stadium
4:30 p.m. March line-up begins – Towers Hall front lawn
5:15 p.m. Commencement March across campus begins
5:30 p.m. Ceremony
Student Speaker: Gabrielle McGeorge
Invited Speaker: Steve Johnston ’82

NOTE: All plans are based on the health and safety guidelines provided by the Franklin County Health Department. If large gatherings are not possible, commencement will be planned differently, but will still take place the weekend of May 1-2, 2021.

Health and Safety Guidelines

For the safety of others, please be advised of the following rules that will be strictly enforced and reflect Otterbein’s continuing commitment to CDC, state, county and local guidelines. Our regard for the health and safety of all our guests means that failure to comply with these state mandated precautions will unfortunately result in removal from the event.

  • If you do not feel well, have a fever or have COVID-19 symptoms, please do not attend the in-person commencement ceremony.
  • Masks that cover the mouth and nose are required.
  • Seating will only be permitted in the officially marked pod units of four. Guests are asked to maintain a 6-foot social distance from other guests at all times.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at multiple points throughout the event venue.

Special Note:
To ensure the safety of our graduates and the upkeep of our stadium turf and track, all graduates are required to wear flat-soled shoes without a pointed or spiked heel of any kind.

View the Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremonies Online

Baccalaureate Service

Sunday, May 2 9:30 a.m. Ceremony

Sunday, May 2 1:30 p.m. Ceremony

Sunday, May 2 5:30 p.m. Ceremony

Class of 2021 Undergraduate Commencement Speaker: Sunday, May 2, 9:30 a.m.

Jeff Wilson

Jeffrey Wilson ’85

Senior Regional Vice President, Radio One/Urban One

Jeffrey Wilson is a media executive and 1985 Otterbein graduate with a career spanning over 40 years in radio, television, and live entertainment. He has held a plethora of roles from on-air personality to senior executive since starting in the mail room at WTVN radio at age 15. He is currently a senior executive for Radio One in Washington, D.C. Wilson has worked for two media companies over four decades, managing media operations in 14 major markets from coast to coast. His stations have received some of the highest honors in media, including a coveted Marconi Award. He has been named one of the best senior leaders in the industry by Radio Ink magazine.

More than a media executive, Wilson is a community activist. He was awarded the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Award by The Ohio State University, the 2010 Otterbein Alumni Association Community Service Award, and the 2011 Citizen of the Year Award from the United States Marshal Service. In 2016, he received the Trendsetter Trailblazer Award in Columbus. He has worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and Glide charities of San Francisco. Wilson serves as the co-chair of the Racial Justice Task Force at the Washington National Cathedral. He is a lobbyist on Capitol Hill and a director for the Maryland, D.C., Delaware, and Virginia Associations of Broadcasters. He is a partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and is a member of the 100 Marathon Club of North America.

Class of 2021 Undergraduate Commencement Speaker: Sunday, May 2, 1:30 p.m.

Corrine Burger

Corrine Burger

Managing Director and Central Ohio Lead Executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Corrine Burger is a managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMC) and serves as its chief control manager, responsible for overseeing operational risk for the global firm. She also serves as the Columbus Strategic Hub lead executive, representing more than 18,000 employees in central Ohio, including more than 2,000 Westerville-based employees.

Burger has been a leader at JPMorgan Chase and predecessor Bank One Corporation for more than 30 years. She has held senior roles in the consumer and asset and wealth management businesses, including Controller of JPMC’s retail division, for nine years. Early in her career, she served as an audit manager with Deloitte in Phoenix as a certified public accountant.

Burger is an active community leader. She currently serves on the boards of the Columbus Partnership and Columbus 2020, and is the chair-elect of the Columbus State Community College Board of Trustees. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University.

Corrine and her husband, Joe, reside in Dublin, Ohio. They have four children.

Class of 2021 Undergraduate Commencement Speaker: Sunday, May 2, 5:30 p.m.

Steve Johnston

Steve Johnston ’82

Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Financial Corporation (CFC)

Steve Johnston is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cincinnati Financial Corporation (CFC), a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Fairfield, Ohio. CFC operates through eight insurance and financial services subsidiaries. He is also chairman of the investment and executive committees of CFC and all the subsidiaries.

Johnston graduated from Otterbein University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in computer science. While in school, he was recognized as the outstanding senior in the Department of Mathematics. He was a co-captain of the men’s basketball team that was the 1981 Ohio Athletic Conference regular season co-champion and which qualified for the Final Four.

Otterbein recognized Johnston with a Sesquicentennial Award as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1997 and a Special Achievement Award in 2013. He was a volunteer assistant for Coach Dick Reynolds for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 Otterbein men’s basketball teams. He also has served as a member of the Otterbein University Alumni Council.

Professionally, Johnston is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society, a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, a chartered financial analyst and a chartered enterprise risk analyst. He is chairman of the 2021 United Way of Greater Cincinnati Campaign, a member of Ohio Governor DeWine’s Board of Economic Advisors, chairman of the Cincinnati Business Committee, president of the Commercial Club of Cincinnati, and a member of the board of directors of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

Johnston and his wife, Debbie, have four daughters, four sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren. Their nephew, Ian Johnston, is a freshman at Otterbein and member of the men’s golf team.

Facebook 2021 Frame

Get the Class of 2021 Facebook Frame!

Celebrate the Otterbein class of 2021 with a new Facebook frame for undergraduate and graduate students, parents, and grandparents! Click Update Your Profile Picture, Add a Frame, and search Otterbein 2021 to find the frame that is right for you!

Shareable Social Media Images

Download our Otterbein class of 2021 shareable social media images to help celebrate this year’s graduates! You’ll find images for undergraduate and graduate students, parents, and grandparents. Upload them to social media with #Otterbein2021 and wish these students good luck!

Click an image below to view and download a full-size version you can share on social media.


Otterbein 2021 Graduate
Otterbein 2021 Grad School
Otterbein 2021 Parent
Otterbein 2021 Grandparent

Click an image above to view and download a full-size version you can share on social media.

Important Dates & Events

Lavender Graduation

Sponsored by FreeZone, Office of Social Justice and Activism, and Tri Iota, Lavender Graduation affirms the achievements of the LGBTQIA+ graduates and their allies. Friends and family are welcome. At the celebration, each student receives their cords and has a chance to share something about their Otterbein experience and thank their support circle. This year’s event will be held on Monday, April 26, at 5 p.m. virtually. If you would like to attend and/or receive a lavender cord, please contact Suzanne Ashworth at

Noble Transitions

The Office of Social Justice and Activism (OSJA) hosts a multicultural pre-graduation ceremony, Noble Transitions, to celebrate graduating students of color, international, and first-generation students. It is a time to officially celebrate their accomplishments as well as those of their friends and peers who are graduating.

During the ceremony, students will receive a kente stole, share a senior reflection, and thank those who have been influential in their success. Students often invite family, friends, faculty, and staff who have been instrumental in their Otterbein journey. All are welcome to attend. This year’s event will be held Friday, April 30, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. at the Westerville Alum Creek Amphitheater. For more information, please contact the OSJA at 614-823-1312.

Baccalaureate Service

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW! The Baccalaureate Service for both the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 will be held on Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m. in Cowan Hall. Tickets will be available for a limited number of students and family members. The event will also be streamed online. Academic regalia and a procession are not part of the service. Both undergraduate and graduate degree students are invited to attend. Since event attendance is limited, tickets are required. Please make plans early if you wish to attend in person. For more information, please email


Each graduate is eligible to receive four tickets for commencement due to the COVID capacity of Memorial Stadium. Please note that tickets are free of charge, and the selling of tickets is considered inappropriate activity and may result in disciplinary action. Tickets will be distributed online and in groups of “family pods.” Each “family pod” will be socially distanced from the other “family pods” in the stadium.

Obtaining Tickets
A link to the request tickets and RSVP to attend the ceremony will be available on April 16, 2021 after the deadline to apply to graduate. It will be shared through email with those that have applied to graduate.

Extra Tickets and Live Streaming
Extra tickets will NOT be available due to COVID precautions and the capacity of the stadium. Please do not call to see if the situation has changed.

Commencement will be streamed live for virtual access to the ceremony as well. If your guests are not able to attend the ceremony in person, it will be streamed live. A link will be posted on this page close to the event date.


Gates A and B to Memorial Stadium will open an hour before the ceremony on Sunday, May 2, 2021. All guests must wear a face covering on campus grounds. Each guest must present an electronic or printed ticket in order to be admitted. Ticket holders must be seated by the start of the ceremony. Each set of tickets will be identified into a socially distanced “family pod” and be socially distanced from another family.

Seating for Young Children
All children over the age of one must have a ticket, due to COVID guidelines and social distancing.

Seating for Special Needs Guests
Special needs guests with wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, walker, hearing impairments, etc., will be assigned to the limited accessible seating section along with the three other tickets for that “family pod.”

Guest Seating Expectations
Please note the following:

  • A face covering must be worn at all times while on campus grounds (even outside).
  • Seating is reserved by “family pods” in groups of four. Social distancing for all seats will be strictly enforced throughout the ceremony, please stay within your four-person “family pod.”
  • Most seating is bleacher style seating without back support.
  • The stadium stairs are steep, and it is an athletic facility, so please consider the types of shoes you wear.
  • Placing chairs in any location, standing in any location, sitting in aisles, etc. are fire code violations and will not be permitted.

General Information for Family and Guests

Commencement FAQs

What if it is raining on Commencement Day?
The ceremony will continue rain or shine. However, if there are storms (in particular, lightning), graduates and faculty members only will move indoors for the ceremony as per event guidelines from the Franklin County Health Department. Family members will be able to view the ceremony through a live web stream.

What happens if someone in my family pod loses their tickets or if one of my guests doesn’t have access to my tickets?
Tickets will be emailed to the graduating students. Graduates will need to forward their electronic tickets to their guests. Guests will also be permitted to display the ticket QR code to enter the ceremony.

An event box office at the Memorial Stadium will be open one hour prior to each ceremony to assist guests with lost tickets.

Does my family need to come for me to participate in the ceremony?
We are proud of our graduates and look forward to celebrating this achievement as an Otterbein community. When you confirm your plans to attend as part of the online form, you will also be asked to confirm whether you need guest tickets and how many of your four allotted tickets you want to utilize.

Where can I get my honor cords?
Honor cords are distributed by different departments on campus. Not all departments have honor cords or stoles. If you have questions about where to get a departmental cord, please contact your department administrator. Students eligible for the Five Cardinal Experiences cords can pick up their items at the Grad Fair on Wednesday, April 21; at the Grab and Go social on Friday, April 30; or upon checking in to walk at their ceremony.

What COVID guidelines are in place at Memorial Stadium?
Otterbein University is following all local and state COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Guests attending commencement must stay within their family pod of four, wear their face coverings, remain 6-feet socially distanced from others, and use hand sanitizer when appropriate. Guests who are not feeling well or are showing any COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay home and enjoy the live web stream of the event. Guests are asked to arrive and depart within one hour of their graduate’s ceremony time to allow all families to safely enjoy their event.

Is Otterbein selling flowers for the event?
Families can pre-order flowers to pick up on their way into the stadium.

What commemorative items are available to celebrate and mark this occasion?
Jostens has a variety of special items to commemorate your college achievements and commencement day memories. To learn more about those items, you can visit their website for details about how to order announcements, rings and more.


We are excited to welcome you to Oterbein’s campus. If you need overnight accommodations for your visit to Otterbein, you’ll find a variety of hotels conveniently located near campus.

Westerville Hotels

Renaissance Westerville Hotel (1.5 miles)
Ask about the Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
409 Altair Parkway
Westerville, OH 43082

Aloft Westerville Hotel (1.7 miles)
Ask about Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
32 Heatherdown Dr
Westerville, OH 43081
614-899-6560 x7114

Nearby Hotels

Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus-Polaris (2.6 miles)
Ask about Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
8411 Pulsar Place
Columbus, OH 43240

Embassy Suites (2.7 miles)
Ask about Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
2700 Corporate Exchange Drive
Columbus, OH 43231

Holiday Inn Express Columbus-Worthington (5 miles)
Ask about Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
55 Hutchinson Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43235
614-977-0520 (Hotel Main Number)
614-896-8452 (Direct Line)

Courtyard by Marriott (5.1 miles)
Ask about Otterbein Parent/Friend Rate
7411 Vantage Drive
Columbus, OH 43235

Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus Polaris (2.4 miles) 
9000 Worthington Road
Westerville, OH 43082

Holiday Inn Express – Polaris (2.7 miles)
8670 Orion Place
Columbus, Ohio 43240

Candlewood Suites Polaris (3.4 miles)
8515 Lyra Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43240

Extended Stay America (3.4 miles)
8555 Lyra Drive
Columbus, OH 43240

Hilton – Columbus / Polaris (3.4 miles)
8700 Lyra Drive
Columbus, OH 43240

Hilton Garden Inn (3.4 miles)
8535 Lyra Drive
Columbus, OH 43240

Comfort Inn North/Polaris (3.6 miles)
8400 Lyra Drive
Columbus, OH, 43240

Note: Otterbein does not in any way endorse these businesses, products, or services. This listing is provided as a resource only.


Part of an enjoyable visit to Otterbein’s campus means ensuring you understand your parking options and that you have the opportunity to plan for your family’s unique circumstances.

To allow all of our guests to have a pleasant arrival and departure, we ask guests to honor the following:

  • If possible, we ask that you consider traveling with your family pod of four guests. Doing so ensures that the majority of guests will be able to park within a short distance of the stadium.
  • As we will be welcoming many guests to campus throughout the weekend, we ask that you please arrive no earlier than one hour of your scheduled ceremony and that you plan to depart no later than one hour of your ceremony’s conclusion.

Special Needs Drop-Off:
Guests who would have difficulty walking from the parking lot to the Memorial Stadium can be dropped off at Gate A. Gate A is located on the north side of the stadium, closer to the Rike Center.

Reserved handicapped parking is available. Guests will only need to show their accessible seating section tickets to be granted access to this reserved parking.

Graduation Photos

Grad Images will take each graduate’s picture as they cross the stage. A proof and order form will be mailed by the latter part of May.

According to Grad Images, all orders received by June 1 will be fulfilled and delivered by July 1. Late orders will be accepted until Dec. 31. You are under no obligation to purchase the pictures or respond to the Grad Images correspondence. Grad Images may be contacted via their website or at 1-800-261-2576.

Security Precautions

Please be aware that guests are subject to visual inspection of person, bags, and clothing capable of concealing prohibited items.

The following items are prohibited:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Coolers
  • Backpacks
  • Large handbags
  • Metal folding seat cushions
  • Seats that clamp to bleachers
  • Noise making devices
  • Mace or similar substances
  • Signs
  • Sticks
  • Poles
  • Weapons of any kind
  • Balloons and other items that would obstruct the sightline of any guests