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Leaving a lasting legacy

December 16, 2016

American icon John Glenn has left an Ohio State legacy that will endure for generations.

Watch a video replay of John Glenn: Celebrating A Life Of Service.

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In a 95-year life marked by heroic service to mankind, his country and his beloved Buckeye State, John Glenn performed one of his most significant acts of service with an eye on the future.

In 1998, Glenn founded the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, which merged with the School of Public Policy & Management in 2006, creating the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. The school became the university’s 15th college in 2015.

At the Glenn Institute announcement, the aviation icon, ace fighter pilot, record-setting astronaut and four-term U.S. Senator decried the partisan politics that had taken root in Washington. He wanted future generations of Buckeyes to replace cynicism with service. “If this cynicism and apathy are allowed to fester, it will not only be dangerous, but in our democracy it will be suicidal,” Glenn said that day. “I honestly believe that through this institute, The Ohio State University can be an instrumental part in rekindling the nation’s commitment to public service.”

Glenn College Dean Trevor Brown said the mission of the Glenn College is taken from a simple philosophy developed by the first American to orbit the Earth. “He coined a very simple phrase: Inspiring citizenship and developing leadership. His great hope was that Glenn College students would come and learn about participating in civic life.”

John Glenn speaks to Ohio State's graduating seniors at Commencement on June 14, 2009.
Glenn speaks to Glenn School of Public Affairs students at Page Hall during the presidential primary on March 4, 2008.
Annie and John Glenn pose with Ohio State President Michael V. Drake (left) and board chair Jeffrey Wadsworth during the dedication of Glenn Ave. on Nov. 5, 2015.
John Glenn acknowledges the crowd during Spring Commencement 2009 at Ohio Stadium.
Annie and John Glenn dot the i prior to Ohio State's game against the University of California on Sept. 15, 2012 at Ohio Stadium.
John Glenn greets President Bill Clinton as Glenn College dean Trevor Brown looks on at Mershon Auditorium on Nov. 19, 2015.

In an interview conducted last year, Glenn said he saw the spark of human curiosity kindled at his namesake college as part of a thirst for knowledge dating back to the dawn of mankind. “If there’s one thing I hope people come out of our courses with, it’s an unbridled curiosity about how we can do things new and in a different way or a better way,” Glenn said. “And if you think about it, the whole question is what’s at the heart of every bit of human progress since people came out of a cave: curiosity about the new and the unknown, basic research.” 

As word spread on December 8 about Glenn’s death, Ohio State President Michael Drake weighed in on Glenn’s legacy.

“Senator Glenn was a decorated U.S. Marine aviator, legendary NASA astronaut, tireless public servant and an unparalleled supporter of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State where he served actively as an adjunct professor until just recently,” said Drake. “He was an authentic hero whose courage, integrity, sacrifice and achievements inspired people, young and old around the world.”

For those wishing to pay their respects to Senator Glenn, he will lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda from noon to 8 p.m. this Friday.

On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., the hearse carrying the former Marine fighter pilot will be escorted by a platoon of Marines up High Street to Mershon Auditorium, where a celebration of his life is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Additionally, memorabilia from Senator Glenn's life is currently on display on the lobby level of Page Hall, the home of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. The public is invited to come and leave a note of condolence for his family. And beginning Wednesday and running through March 2017, the Ohio State University Libraries will present the exhibit John Glenn: Remembering an Extraordinary Life in the special collections area in Thompson Library. Using photographs, documents and artifacts from the John Glenn Archives, the exhibit is open to the public during normal library hours.  

A life of service remembered at memorial to John Glenn

Explorer, senator, American hero. John Glenn led a life of service to others. A memorial for Senator Glenn at The Ohio State University offered the chance for so many who had been touched by his life to say thank you. Read more