Obama Speaks at OSU Graduation

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By CNN’s Steve Brusk

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) — President Barack Obama spoke at The Ohio State University’s commencement Sunday.

He endured some ribbing from President E. Gordon Gee, who ridiculed him for speaking at that university “up north.”

Upon beginning his speech, Obama noted Ohio State let Gerald Ford speak at a commencement, and Ford played for that school “up north!”

It was the first of three commencements Obama will attend this graduation season. He will also speak at Morehouse College in Atlanta on May 19, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 24.A crowd of 57,000 was at the graduation, mostly family and friends of the graduating class. More than 10,000 Buckeye seniors get their diplomas, though not all will attend the ceremony.

The green field inside the football stadium was replaced by a white tarp, and nearly the entire field is filled with black chairs.

The quick trip to Columbus comes a day after the president returned to the United States from his visit to Mexico and Costa Rica.

Columbus, and particularly Ohio State, were frequent destinations for Obama during his campaign. This was his fifth trip to the OSU campus alone in the past 16 months.

He is the third sitting U.S. president to address The Ohio State University’s commencement, and the second to do it inside the historic stadium.

Gerald Ford spoke August 30, 1974, in St. John Arena across the street. George W. Bush spoke inside the stadium, nicknamed the Horseshoe, on June 14, 2002.

Some political rivals who have preceded the president to the stage in Columbus include House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, who was the commencement speaker at the stadium two years ago. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, spoke at the 2006 spring commencement, two years before he faced Obama in the presidential election.

At the end of the ceremony, an honorary doctorate was conferred on the president. Also receiving an honorary degree was celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. She shot the official Obama family portrait in 2010 and the Vanity Fair cover photos of Obama in 2007 and 2009.