HGTV star Ford will be OU commencement speaker

Published 1:38 am Sunday, April 18, 2021

ATHENS — Leanne Ford, a 2003 Ohio University graduate, self-taught interior designer and co-host of “Home Again with The Fords” on HGTV, will deliver OU’s 2021 undergraduate spring commencement virtual address on May 1-2.

The 2021 graduate spring commencement ceremony speaker on April 30 will be Dr. Susan Williams, who was named as the 2020 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award winner. Dr. Williams has been a professor of anatomy in the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine since 2003.

Ford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in specialized studies, had a successful career as a fashion stylist and creative director before gaining national attention after renovating a 1907 schoolhouse into a home in her hometown of Pittsburgh.

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“I have always said that choosing to go to Ohio University was one of the top five best decisions I have made in my life. And I promise you, that’s not an exaggeration.” Ford said. “I am so proud to be an OU grad. And I am beyond honored to be speaking. I hope to inspire the 2021 graduates to go into the world confidently and joyfully, and with the pride of what they have already accomplished.”

Ford’s schoolhouse renovation was featured in Country Living magazine and launched her career as an interior designer. In it, she established her “easy minimalist” signature aesthetic, and each project since, ranging from New York to Los Angeles, reflects her modern, yet lived-in aesthetic.

Her work has been featured on the cover of Domino and House Beautiful as well as in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Country Living, GQ, Lonny, Elle Decor, Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens, Redbook, MyDomaine, Refinery 29 and more.

“We are honored to welcome alumna Leanne Ford back to OU to share her story with our graduates,” Ohio University president M. Duane Nellis said. “She has demonstrated that taking creative risks can come with wonderful rewards, and I’m sure she will inspire our students to greater success.”

Before “Home Again with the Fords,” which launched in January, she also co-hosted “Restored by the Fords” on the same channel. She and her brother, contractor Steve Ford, have turned some of Pittsburgh’s most dated structures into magazine-worthy homes. The two also co-authored a book, “Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life.” The book was written to inspire readers to take creative risks and not to fear failure, as failures can provide a learning opportunity.

Williams has been honored for her research focus on how mammals (including humans) have developed the ability to feed. She is widely recognized for her work on the development of the nervous system, muscles and skeleton, starting from infancy.

“Dr. Williams has made a tremendous impact throughout her tenure at Ohio University,” President Nellis said. “Her dedication to helping students succeed in the classroom and lab setting is second only to her work in preparing them for future accomplishments. It is an honor and a privilege to share the stage with her at this year’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony.”

Ohio University’s Spring Commencement will be April 30-May 2 at Peden Stadium in Athens. Graduate commencement will take place April 30, with undergraduate commencement being held over three sessions May 1-2.