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Janelle Coleman to deliver 2022 Spring Undergraduate Commencement Address

Published: March 31, 2022 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University graduate and American Electric Power (AEP) Vice President, Community Engagement & Diversity, Inclusion and President, AEP Foundation, Janelle Coleman will deliver OHIO’s 2022 Undergraduate Spring Commencement Address on Saturday, April 30.

The 2022 Graduate Spring Commencement Speaker on Friday, April 29, will be Dr. Brandon Kendhammer, who was named as the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award winner. Kendhammer is an associate professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences and the director of the International Development Studies Program in the Center for International Studies.

Also during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony, honorary degrees will be presented to alumni Dr. Jue Chen and Dr. John Roush.

Coleman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from OHIO’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism in 1995, is also a member of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and a former Board Chair. 

“I am honored to serve as my alma mater’s 2022 Undergraduate Spring Commencement Speaker,” Coleman said. “I am extremely proud of this year’s graduating class, and I am looking forward to speaking with them and celebrating them in April.”

In her work at AEP, Coleman leads the organization’s the philanthropic community outreach in its 11-state service territory. She also serves as the president of the AEP Foundation, which in 2019 donated nearly $30 million to support STEM education programs, helping to meet basic human needs including hunger and housing, and fund the arts and other initiatives.

Throughout her career Coleman has focused on community engagement and corporate philanthropy. Coleman was most recently executive vice president of external affairs for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Prior to that, she held several positions at L Brands, Inc., including vice president of community relations, chief diversity officer and president of the L Brands Foundation.

She has received numerous honors for her work, including Columbus CEO Magazine – Executive Women Rising to the Top, Columbus Young Professional Club Woman of Inspiration Award, Columbus Business First Forty Under 40, The Network Journal’s 40 Under Forty Award, and Who’s Who in Black Columbus – Interesting Personality.

“Janelle Coleman is a highly-respected business leader and communications expert who has worked throughout her career to give back to the community,” President Hugh Sherman said. “I am proud that she will be delivering our commencement address and I look forward to learning from the remarks she has planned for our graduates.

Kendhammer is an expert on politics in Nigeria and the rise of violent extremist groups in West Africa. His most recent book, “Boko Haram,” (Ohio University Press, 2018) with Carmen McCain, examines the social history of one of Africa’s deadliest terrorist groups and its impact on Nigerian politics and social life.

He co-authored the US Agency for International Development's first report on how to use development policy to counter violent extremism in Nigeria and is a Senior Research Advisor at the US Institute for Peace's RESOLVE Network, where he leads efforts to improve local peacebuilding initiatives across Africa.

His work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including “Comparative Politics,” “Journal of Human Rights,” and “Ethnopolitics.” He holds a B.A. in French and political science from Coe College and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a former Fulbright scholar at Usmanu Danfodiyyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria.

“Dr. Kendhammer is an internationally-recognized expert and is an accomplished researcher and author,” Sherman said. “At the same time, he is an excellent teacher, and our students chose him for this honor due to their respect for him as a faculty member and mentor. I am proud that he will be delivering the commencement address at our Graduate Commencement Ceremony.”

The Graduate Commencement Ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 29, in the Convocation Center.

The ceremony will also feature honorary degree recipients Chen and Roush. A 1993 OHIO graduate, Chen is a member of the faculty of Rockefeller University, where she is the William E. Ford Professor and head of laboratory of membrane biology and biophysics. Roush, a 1972 OHIO graduate, is a president emeritus of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and a national leader in higher education.

Two Undergraduate Ceremonies will be held on Saturday, April 30, beginning at 9:30 a.m., and 2 p.m., in the Convocation Center.

For more information on the 2022 Spring Commencement ceremonies, see the commencement website.