What's it going to take to bring President Barack Obama (back) to Orange County? More big-dollar fundraisers? OC's penchant for e-cigs? The largest area university's 50th birthday?
That's what the administration at UC Irvine is hoping. Since last April, a committee of faculty, staff members, and one City of Irvine employee have been trying to convince the president to visit UC Irvine on June 14, 2014 to give a commencement speech at a special ceremony. The event would mark 50 years since then President Lyndon Johnson descended from the sky in a helicopter to dedicate a patch of dirt for the creation of UC Irvine.
"President Lyndon B. Johnson's helicopter landed on a barren cattle range the morning of June 20, 1964, to dedicate the land for UC Irvine," said Cathy Lawhon, UC Irvine director of media relations and chair of the 50th anniversary planning committee. "At that time, the founding chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. articulated his vision of a unique multidisciplinary institution that would produce research and insights key to the growth of region. That message resonated with President Johnson."
"…We are planning our 50th anniversary celebration with a focus on looking forward to new opportunities for innovation, growth and prosperity for all in this diverse community," she continued. "We believe this is a message that will resonate with President Obama."
What's UC Irvine done in its 50 years to deserve the visit? Only becoming the youngest university ever to be admitted to Association of American Universities, being named one of the best universities under 50 years old, and open (or allow someone to open) what is probably the best campus pub in existence.
The committee received notice that their invitation had been received shortly after they sent it, reports the New University, so now it's just a waiting game. In the meantime, the committee is preceding with planning as if the President will accept, according to Lawhon.
Well, there is something to be said about hope.