More than 2,000 people are expected to attend President Barack Obama’s speech at the University of Central Missouri tomorrow. The University of Central Missouri has been putting plans into place quickly to accommodate the president’s visit, and says it’s mostly due to campus and community support that things have gone so smoothly.
Obama is expected to fly into Whiteman Air Force Base tomorrow afternoon and is scheduled to speak just after 4 p.m. He’ll be coming from Knox University in Illinois, where he is also expected to discuss the economy, recovery from the recession, and the current debate in Washington on student loans.
Obama was last in Missouri two years ago. His last public appearance was to speak at a memorial held for the victims of the Joplin tornado, just one week after an EF-5 devastated that community.
Jeff Murphy with the University’s public relations office says the school looks forward to hosting a wonderful event, and wouldn’t comment on any political crossfire. Not so the Sierra Club, which plans to be there with signs protesting the Keystone pipeline.
Murphy says Obama is the first sitting president to visit the University, but points to other national and international dignitaries who have spoken there, including former president Bill Clinton, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, Consumer activist and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, former first lady Barbara Bush, and Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of Poland.
Murphy says the university has been overwhelmed by the public response, noting that tickets became available at 10 a.m. Monday and a line was already stretched nearly two blocks around to get them. They were gone within an hour.
He says doors open at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, and encourages anyone who has a ticket to be there at that time.
“There is a screening process, they may have to stand for an hour or longer waiting,” he says.
He says it’s a special day for everyone.
“We look forward to having a wonderful event,” he says. “We appreciate all the support we’ve received locally and those from the campus community to prepare for the event in a short period of time.”
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Famous names on campus over the years
Over the years, the Julius J. Oppenheimer Symposium Series Endowment has brought to campus a stellar list of international dignitaries, authors
and scholars. They include:
• William F. Buckley Jr., conservative news commentator
• John Houseman, Academy Award-winning actor and film producer
• Bruno Bettelheim, child psychologist, autism researcher
• Andrew Young, civil rights activist and politician
• Eric Sevareid, foreign news correspondent
• Ralph Nader, consumer activist
• Michael Dukakis, 1988 presidential candidate
• Barbara Bush, former First Lady
• Hugh Downs, broadcaster and television host
• Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president of Poland
• Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Union president
• Ed Asner, actor best known as Lou Grant
• James Bradley, World War II author
• Howard K. Smith, legendary World War II correspondent
• Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Northern Ireland peace advocate
• Barry Commoner, biologist and eco-socialist
• George McGovern, 1972 presidential candidate
• Mike Farrell, best known for M*A*S*H role as B.J. Hunnicutt
• Ed Meese III, former chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan
• Jane Bryant Quinn, personal finance expert
• Nadine Strossen, first woman president of the American Civil Liberties Union
• Robert Kennedy Jr., attorney, political activist and environmentalist
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:30)