In recognition of their leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Dominican University (ODU) awarded Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine with honorary degrees at a ceremony on Monday, Aug. 16.

The ceremony, “A Celebration of Healthcare,” coincided with an event to celebrate and welcome ODU’s 10th class of 50 Physician Assistant Studies master’s students, who are beginning the 27-month program. During the event, ODU President Connie Gallaher presented the DeWine’s each with a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. ODU’s Board of Trustees approved the degrees during its May meeting to recognize the Governor and First Lady for their leadership during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“This pandemic has shed light on many things, but perhaps none more so than the critically important role that healthcare workers play day in and day out, especially in times of a pandemic,” said President Gallaher during the ceremony. “Another item that this pandemic has shed light on is the importance of sound and bold leadership. There is no blueprint for how to respond to these kinds of crises in modern times. However, there’s no question that, without the leadership of Governor DeWine and the tremendous support of our state’s First Lady, Fran DeWine, this current pandemic could have looked very different in our state. The decisions that have been made over these past 18 months and the decisions that continue to be made – while no doubt difficult – have helped to save lives and will help Ohioans come out of this a stronger and more resilient people.

Governor DeWine thanked current and future members of the medical community for their commitment to providing quality care to communities throughout and beyond Ohio.

“In many ways, I envy you; I envy you because you will have the opportunity throughout your life, and virtually every single day, to change peoples’ lives, to make a difference in their lives, to make their day better, to make their family’s day better. That is a unique opportunity, and so thank you for being willing to take that opportunity,” said Governor DeWine. “Throughout the pandemic, it has been a challenge for me, but my challenge has paled in comparison to the challenge that has been faced by the medical community. And so thank you and thank everyone who has been part of the medical community who have faced unbelievable challenges, who did not have a roadmap either when this started, and have had to deal with the horrible crisis that, unfortunately, is still very much here. I am grateful.”