On May 4, 1970, four Kent State University students were shot and killed by members of the Ohio National Guard who were dispatched to that campus to quell demonstrations over the Vietnam War. Civil unrest followed on several Ohio campuses and others across the nation. Cities experienced protests and looting. Several days later UC suddenly closed its doors and sealed off the campus to avoid the destruction occurring on other campuses. Senior year was over.
I was stunned, upset, and I knew I would never again see some of my classmates. A month before the closure, a contest had been held for the senior commencement speaker, and I was selected. I was thrilled to be representing my senior class. Graduation for the class of 1970 was initially planned as an evening event, but was moved to midafternoon as the city and university administrators feared a large crowd gathering at night. I felt nervous speaking to thousands of people in Nippert Stadium that day, but I was grateful that, at least, our Commencement ceremony was held. (The 50th anniversary celebration for the class of 1970, scheduled for April, was cancelled due to the pandemic.)