Brad D. Smith Leads Marshall University’s Spring 2023 Commencement

President Brad D. Smith congratulating a graduate at Marshall University’s 2023 Spring Commencement.

On Saturday, April 29, Marshall University celebrated its 2023 spring commencement, honoring and awarding the institution’s latest graduating class through two ceremonies held at Mountain Health Arena. Students walked the stage in recognition of their various achievements — from  undergraduate to doctoral degrees — and celebrated the milestone that is degree completion while also reflecting on the moments that led to the present moment. This year’s spring commencement marked the second that Brad D. Smith has led as Marshall University’s president.

Sentiments from Marshall Staff and Students

President Brad D. Smith opened Marshall University’s 2023 Spring Commencement by welcoming graduates along with their friends, families and supporters. He then called for a moment of silence, encouraging all in attendance to reflect on both the work accomplished and memories made over the past year. Brad then transitioned into the ceremony by introducing various Marshall leaders, including Mikala Shremshock, President of the Marshall University Alumni Association Board of Directors, and Patrick J. Farrel, Chairman of the Board of Governors, who gave greetings and imparted words of acknowledgement to the graduates.

Isabella Griffiths, President of Marshall’s Student Government Association, also gave remarks on behalf of the student body. Isabella spoke of staying genuine through adversity and the importance of authentically being oneself. She also took a moment to commend her fellow students and voice appreciation for Marshall University staff and faculty members for their support.

Words from Keynote Speaker John Donahoe

The commencement featured keynote speaker John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike, Inc. As Marshall is a “Nike school,” John highlighted the accomplishments of Marshall’s sports program over the past few years. He also talked about his friendship with Brad and how they initially connected over a dedication to servant leadership. Playing off of this, John then shared principles he has learned over the years as a means of helping the graduates enter the working world as effective, successful leaders. These three lessons were: never stop learning, build character in tough times and build bridges to bring people together. 

John concluded his speech by celebrating the character of Marshall’s student body, saying, “God made Marshall students out of grit and grace.” Acknowledging this grit and grace, John called upon the graduates to go out into the world, using their leadership and skills to answer the call to serve the greater good.

A Legacy of Grit and Grace

Before calling the graduates to the stage, Brad also talked of the grit and grace that characterizes not only Marshall students, but that is also prominent in the entire Mountain State. A proud West Virginia native himself, Brad spoke of these defining characteristics and how they are special to the state’s residents.

 “I’ve often said we come from families that mine coal, that forged steel that built roads, that carried the trucks that served our country and fought the war…West Virginians are made of grit and grace. Marshall University is made of grit and grace. God made a special breed when he made you.” Watch Marshall’s 2023 Spring Commencement ceremony.