from Eastern Kentucky University

April 1, 2011
EKU One of 12 Sites Nationwide Vying to Host Presidential Debate in 2012

Eastern Kentucky University is one of 12 applicants nationwide vying to host a Presidential Debate in 2012.

According to The Commission on Presidential Debates, which announced the applicants Friday, April 1, the other colleges and universities hoping to host a debate next year are:

·         Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.

·         Centre College, Danville, Ky.

·         Dominican University of California, San Rafael, Calif.

·         Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

·         Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.

·         Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

·         Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, Calif.

·         The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, N.J.

·         University of Denver, Denver, Colo.

·         Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.

·         Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo.

If the University is accepted as a host, the event will be held in the 2,012-seat EKU Center for the Arts, expected to open this fall.  It is anticipated that a Presidential Debate would attract approximately 5,000 guests (including approximately 3,000 media personnel) to the community and area, some staying for as long as a week.

Site surveys, conducted by members of the Commission, will be scheduled for April-June.  Proposals and site surveys will be reviewed this summer, and the Commission plans to announce the 2012 sites and debates this fall. In 2007, 16 proposals were submitted and three Presidential Debates were held the following year.

“The prospect of hosting a 2012 President Debate excites me for our University, community, region, and state,” EKU President Doug Whitlock said at a news conference on Tuesday, March 29, announcing the bid. “It is particularly exciting when I think of what it would mean for our students educationally to witness history in the making and to see an event of national, even international, importance play out before them.

“We are truly grateful for the support shown to this project by Richmond, Berea, Madison County, Lexington, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Whitlock added Tuesday. “Governor Beshear, Senator McConnell, Representative Chandler and many others here in the state and in the nation's capital have given us encouragement. We would not be making this application without their endorsements and unless we thought we had a legitimate chance.

“During the course of this process, we will have a visit from representatives of the Commission on President Debates. I am confident they will be impressed by our facilities, our capacity, the resources of the region, and our can-do attitude.”

EKU's proposal emphasizes several strengths University officials believe make Eastern and the Richmond-Berea-Lexington area ideally suited to host such an event:

·         An easily accessible location, served by interstate highways in all directions and the Blue Grass Airport.

·         An experienced leadership team bolstered by several individuals who played key roles in logistics, security and communications with the Vice Presidential Debate held in Danville in 2000, including Hoskins, who was serving at the time as Director of the Programs at the Norton Center, which hosted the debate.

·         The spacious, state-of-the-art Center for the Arts and other nearby campus facilities, such as the Perkins Building, Business & Technology Center and Alumni Coliseum, among others, which would serve auxiliary purposes, such as credentialing and media filing. If selected as a site, the EKU Center would be among the largest venues to date to host a Presidential Debate.

·         More than 10,000 hotel and motel rooms in Richmond, Lexington and Berea.

·         Security personnel in Richmond and Lexington who have worked previous local events involving national and international figures.

·         The expressed support of local officials in Madison and Fayette counties to offer municipal resources as needed.  The University’s proposal also includes letters of support from Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Chandler, local governmental and business leaders, and telecommunications companies, among many others.

·         The availability of shuttle services to and from the airport and to and from lodging locations.

A video that accompanied the proposal package is narrated by Nick and Nina Clooney, Maysville native and acclaimed print and broadcast journalist.  Nick Clooney, who received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the University when he spoke at a commencement ceremony in 2008, is the father of actor George Clooney and brother of legendary singer Rosemary Clooney.

A regional comprehensive university serving approximately 16,500 students, Eastern Kentucky University has earned national recognition on several fronts in the past two years.  It is the only college or university nationwide that can claim all the following “Points of Pride”:

·         First Tier, Southern Master’s Universities (U.S. News & World Report)

·         America’s Best Colleges (Forbes)

·         America’s Great Colleges to Work For (Chronicle of Higher Education)

·         National recognition for community engagement (Carnegie Foundation)

·         Military-Friendly School (G.I. Jobs)

·         Best for Vets, No. 1 Nationally (Military Times EDGE)

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

For more information about the Commission, visit www.debates.org.