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Excitement building as UB community prepares to welcome President Obama

by jmaloni

Press release

Mon, Aug 19th 2013 04:45 pm

"Ready for President @BarackObama's visit to @UBCommunity this week! A historic event in the making!"

"YEAH UB!"

Those are just a couple of the hundreds of comments that have appeared on Twitter as the University at Buffalo prepares to host President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to address the nation from the UB campus this Thursday.

On Aug. 16 and over the weekend, following the White House's announcement of Obama's visit, UB students, faculty, staff and alumni took to social media to spread the word and welcome the president. On campus this Saturday, students settling in for the start of the academic year were elated to learn that the semester would begin with such a monumental event.

"The excitement's definitely spread. I've had friends who aren't back at school text me from all over asking me to get them tickets," said Jori Breslawski, an international studies student from Brockport.

"It's really exciting, and I bet it's going to be really inspiring," said mathematics student Min Jung Shin, who is from Long Island. "It's a good way to start the year off. I can't wait for him to visit and hear what he has to say."

The president's address to the nation from UB is expected to focus on issues important to America's middle class, including the rising cost of higher education.

UB is a fitting venue for a discussion on such matters as a major public research university that has been recognized for offering a quality education at an affordable price. The nonprofit, nonpartisan New America Foundation highlighted UB's innovative approaches to controlling costs and expanding student access in a report on "next-generation universities" that the public policy institute released earlier this year. In addition, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked UB 33rd in the magazine's 2013 list of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges.

UB is also at the forefront of other issues important to the Obama administration and the future of the U.S., including health care, improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and economic revitalization through development of university research.

Information on the exact timing, location and topic of President Obama's speech at UB will be forthcoming from White House, as well as details about the availability of tickets for the event.

Members of the UB community are eager not only to host the president, but to hear what he has to say.

"I'm completely excited; so excited. I think it's pretty cool for him to come here," said Jason Chan, an aerospace and mechanical engineering student from Fresh Meadows, N.Y. "He's going to talk about a few things that we really want to know about. The affordability of college is definitely one of the big problems we have in this country. It's going to be interesting how he talks about that."

More than 1,000 people around the world have liked, shared or commented on posts announcing Obama's visit on UB's official Facebook page since Friday. Some social media users aired criticisms of the president, but many others expressed pride in the fact that UB was selected as the forum for such an important event.

"UB continues to do a great job of bringing the most important and impactful individuals to campus," one Facebooker wrote. "I for one would love to hear the president speak."

"Pres. Obama to speak at my alma mater, the University at Buffalo, this coming Thursday!" an alumna said on Twitter. "A very proud day for UB!"

Breslawski, the international studies student from Brockport, echoed the thoughts of many members of the UB community in saying she was impressed that the university would be hosting such a notable guest.

The university's annual Distinguished Speakers Series regularly draws luminaries to campus, with presenters including past presidents and cabinet members. This year's headliner will be Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State.

But Obama's visit will mark the first time that a sitting U.S. president has spoken at UB since 1853, when UB Chancellor Millard Fillmore was serving as U.S. president.

"I'm really excited to see him in person because I've never heard him speak before," Breslawski said of Obama's forthcoming address. "And I was already really excited about Hillary coming, and so the fact that Obama is coming, too, last minute like this, is really exciting."

Tickets for Thursday's program are free and open to the public, but are required for entrance. One ticket per person will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last, starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, in the Alumni Arena Box Office on the UB North Campus.

Obama will speak in Alumni Arena on Thursday. Doors will open to the public at 9 a.m. All attendees will go through airport-like security and should bring as few personal items as possible. No bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids or signs will be allowed in Alumni Arena. Cameras are permitted.

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