UC Irvine asking President Barack Obama to speak at graduation

UC Irvine is hoping to entice President Barack Obama to give the school's 2014 commencement address.
February 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The University of California, Irvine is hoping to entice President Barack Obama to give the school's 2014 commencement address.

The letter-writing campaign started early in the school year at UC Irvine.

"We've had students support that campaign by filling out what we hope will be close to 10,000 postcards inviting the president to come," said Dr. Thomas Parham, UC Irvine's vice chancellor for student affairs.

The president receives hundreds of requests to speak, but UC Irvine is doing what it can, not just with postcards, but also a special video featuring the men's basketball team and its very tall center, Mamadou Ndiaye.

"At the end of the video, there's our tallest UCI basketball player, who is a center, 7-foot-6 Mamadou, inviting President Obama to a one-on-one pickup game," said Wilbert Cheng, who created the video.

If that's not enough, the postcards and video are being personally delivered to the capitol by the vice chancellor for student affairs, who references the past to encourage the president to say yes.

"Fifty years ago, President [Lyndon B.] Johnson flew Marine One, landed in these fields here to dedicate the campus. It would be an interesting fulfillment of that circle and that legacy to have the sitting president come in and complete that circle 50 years later," said Parham.

The vice-chancellor says with or without the president, the 50th anniversary commencement will go ahead. They're looking at a larger venue, possibly Angel Stadium.

"We just needed a bigger venue to be able to accommodate the 40,000 people we think will want to come to both participate in the 50th anniversary as well as to hear whoever the speaker is, whether it's the president or not," said Parham.


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