Rob Portman to be Speaker at Ashland University’s Spring Commencement

Rob Portman to be Speaker at Ashland University’s Spring Commencement


3/30/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from the state of Ohio, has been named the speaker for AU’s Spring Commencement that is set for May 6 at 10 a.m.

The event will be held at the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex’s Miller Stadium, which is located off Broad Street on the northwest side of the AU campus. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in Kates Gymnasium inside the Physical Education Center.

Portman was first elected in 2010, running a campaign that focused on commonsense conservative ideas to help create jobs and get the deficit under control. Portman won with a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Portman was born and raised in Cincinnati, where he still lives today with his wife Jane. Together they have three children: Jed, Will, and Sally. He grew up in a small business family, where he learned early on the value of hard work, leadership and fiscal responsibility. When he was young, his dad, Bill Portman, borrowed money to start Portman Equipment Company, where Rob and his brother and sister all worked while growing up. His father, and then his brother, built the family business from a small forklift truck dealership with five employees, with Rob's mom as the bookkeeper, to one that employed more than 300 people. Portman became a lawyer and developed his own private practice, representing Portman Equipment Company and other small businesses.

In 1993, Portman was elected to Congress, where he represented the diverse, seven county Second District in southern Ohio. He was proud to serve the Second District for 12 years, and in seven elections, he never received less than 70 percent of the vote.

During his time representing the Second District, Portman earned a reputation as a serious leader who focused on results. In September 1996, he founded the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati, now known as PreventionFIRST!, to help keep young people from substance abuse. He authored the Drug Free Communities Act, which has provided more than $1 billion to community coalitions around the country over the last 20 years.

Portman was actively involved in crafting and promoting the historic welfare reform efforts as a member of the committee that wrote the legislation, and he was a forceful advocate of the balanced budget that passed in 1997. He authored several federal laws to increase retirement savings, reform the IRS and add more than 50 new taxpayer rights, curb unfunded mandates, reduce taxes and expand land conservation efforts.

In 2005, Portman left Congress when he was asked to serve as the United States Trade Representative, the Cabinet-level official responsible for implementing and enforcing U.S. trade policy. As America’s Trade Representative, he was successful in reducing barriers to U.S. exports and increasing enforcement of trade laws to help level the playing field for American farmers, workers, and service providers. Under his leadership, American exports increased and the U.S. brought successful legal challenges against international trade law violations—including against China.

Following his accomplishments as Trade Representative, Portman was asked to serve in another Cabinet post, this time as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He made his mark by proposing a balanced budget, fighting irresponsible earmarks, and putting in place new transparency measures for all federal spending.

During his first term in the U.S. Senate, Portman successfully introduced more than 180 bills, including 150 bipartisan bills, and 50 bills that were signed into law by President Obama. He authored the Senate Republican Jobs Plan, a seven-point agenda for creating jobs in Ohio and around the country through commonsense policies like tax reform, regulatory reform, and skills training. He has been a champion for underprivileged children, an advocate for policies that reduce poverty and increase opportunity, and a leader on expanding exports and American energy production.

Portman is the author of the Federal Permitting Act, federal law that streamlined and sped up the federal permitting process, which modernizes government and creates more jobs. As co-chairman of the bipartisan Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, he has authored the CAREER Act, federal law that helps Ohioans train for and find the jobs that are available today.

As a Senator, Portman also has continued to fight to expand exports and crack down on unfair and illegal imports. He co-authored the bipartisan Leveling the Playing Field Act, which was signed into law by President Obama and gives the federal government better tools to fight unfair imports. He also authored the ENFORCE Act, which President Obama signed into law and helps the federal government crackdown on countries like China that try to evade our trade laws. Portman also has been a staunch advocate for Ohio jobs in dozens of cases at the International Trade Commission. He has supported cases involving solar products in Toledo, agriculture products like wheat grown throughout the state, specialty paper in Dayton, rebar in Cincinnati and Marion, hot-rolled steel in Cleveland, high-density pipe in Columbus, roller bearings in Canton, and others.

Portman has continued the work he began in the House of Representatives on drug abuse prevention and treatment, authoring the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was signed into law in July 2016 and authorizes $181 million annually to increase prevention and education, expand drug treatment, and promote community support services for those in recovery.

Portman co-founded and co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking. He is the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws signed by President Obama. He also has led a bipartisan investigation into, which culminated in a bipartisan report which exposed that the company knowingly facilitates criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and has covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. 

Portman also is a leader in the U.S. Senate in the effort to preserve our environment. He authored several federal laws to protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms through scientific research prioritizing bodies of fresh water, and to stop the use of microbeads, which pollute Lake Erie and harm fish and other wildlife.

He is the author of the National Park Service Centennial Act, which President Obama signed into law in December of 2016. This law ensures that the National Park Service has the resources necessary to reduce its maintenance backlog and continue keeping America beautiful.

Portman is a member of the Finance Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Committee on Foreign Relations. He is also Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In 2016, he was re-elected, winning by an even larger margin of 58 to 37 percent and winning 84 out of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.               ###