Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When the President (of the US) Comes to Campus

Yesterday was a very special day at the university where my husband teaches engineering -- the University of Hartford.

President Obama came to campus and the logistics of his visit, his speech, and the pagentry were very special. My husband took the photos below prior to the President's arrival.

Some highlights from President Obama's visit are captured here in the writeup on the University of Hartford website. You can watch the touching event and hear him speak on reducing gun violence in this video, courtesy of whitehouse.gov.  His visit even made the front page of today's New York Times.

And today, after my husband heartily congratulated the President of the University of Hartford, Dr. Walter Harrison, on the success of yesterday's Presidential visit, he sent the following message to the campus, which is very special so I believe it merits being recognized.

April 9, 2013

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Yesterday’s visit by President Barack Obama was one of the greatest days in the history of the University of Hartford.  Bringing a sitting president of the United States to our campus to address one of the most important political, cultural, and moral issues of the day is what a great institution of higher learning should do, and yesterday was our day to shine.  We came through with flying colors.

When President Obama took a moment from his introductory remarks to thank the University of Hartford for hosting the event, and a huge roar of approval rose from the 3,000 people assembled in the Chase Family Arena, I thought my heart was going to burst through my chest.  I have never had a prouder moment as president; I may never have had a prouder moment as a human being.

It was not, however, a perfect event.  When you agree to host a presidential event, you agree to allow the White House staff and the Secret Service to control the activity.  As a result of their decisions, 2,000 of you waited in line Friday for two hours to get a ticket, and then waited in line for two hours to get into the arena.  In a day of tight security, I know this is how it must be done.  It doesn’t make it easy.

And then, when the Hartford Fire Marshal and the Secret Service decided the arena had reached its safe capacity and closed the doors, I know that 200 of you were turned away.  I can only imagine your anger and disappointment.  It was their decision, not mine, but I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

I want to thank the hundreds of University students, faculty, and staff who volunteered so many hours to make the day a success, especially Maria Arroyo and Aja Wilson, who led the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.  From the people who led the planning—John Carson, Mildred McNeill, John Schmaltz, and Lee Peters, to name a few—to the grounds crew, the Public Safety department, the Office of Residential Life, and so many more, I say thanks.  And to everyone who volunteered, I extend my deepest gratitude.

This is what I dream of for the University of Hartford.  Many of us saw and heard things yesterday that will become memories to last a lifetime.  That is part of what a great University education and experience should be.

It was a great day, a day to cherish and remember.  I thank you.


Walter Harrison

And, in the spirit of (almost) the end to the college basketball season,   I have posted the photo below, courtesy of the University of Hartford.
The women's basketball team left a message for President Obama in their locker room Monday, and President Obama left a message in response. The team wrote: "Dear President Obama, We are thrilled that you will be speaking at the University of Hartford. We hope you enjoy your visit! Your leadership is inspiring to all of us. Best wishes and safe travels! Love, The Hartford Hawks." In response, President Obama wrote "Thanks for the hospitality. Go Hawks!", followed by his signature.