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Campus community joins inaugural celebration

Jan. 20, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Crowds of more than 2,500, mostly students, came together at Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium Tuesday, Jan. 20, to witness Barack Obama's historic inauguration as 44th president of the United States.

The auditorium was open to the public free of charge for viewing live PBS coverage of the events. Preliminary activities began at 10 a.m., with the inaugural ceremony following at 11:30 a.m. The new president took the oath of office shortly after noon, delivering an inaugural address filled with both promises and challenges made to the American people.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America--they will be met," Obama said, as WMU students, faculty and staff watched intently, pausing occasionally to snap photos and record footage of the historic speech on their cell phones.

Miller Auditorium exploded in applause as Obama called for political renewal. "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Nods of agreement rippled through the audience as the president reminded the nation that there is a lot of work to do, and very little time to waste. "Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions--that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done."

Miller Auditorium was opened to provide a single venue for members of the campus community to share this momentous event.

"Many faculty members encouraged their students to attend the broadcast and some have integrated the event into their courses," said Lynn Kelly-Albertson, director of WMU's Career and Student Employment Services, which sponsored the Miller Auditorium program using a grant from the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C.

The grant was provided to WMU Career and Student Employment Services to promote federal employment as a career option for WMU students. Career advisors were at Miller Auditorium during the inaugural celebration to provide interested students with information about careers and internships in government through the Student Educational Employment Program and Student Career Experience Program, as well as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other vehicles for employment and civic engagement.

For more information, contact Lynn Kelly-Albertson, Career and Student Employment Services, at lynn.kelly-albertson@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2745.

Related links
Full text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address
Video of President Barack Obama's inaugural address

Media contact: Tonya Durlach, (269) 387-8400, tonya.durlach@wmich.edu

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