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President Obama to visit WMU campus

May 14, 2010

KALAMAZOO--President Barack Obama will address the graduating seniors of Kalamazoo Central High School in a commencement ceremony set for 7 p.m. Monday, June 7, in Western Michigan University's University Arena.

The decision to hold the event on the WMU campus was announced May 14 by Kalamazoo Public Schools. While the decision to hold commencement in University Arena was made to accommodate a larger crowd, no tickets will be available to the general public. The arena seats just over 5,000 people.

The KPS announcement laid out a ticket distribution plan that calls for each member of the K-Central graduating class to get eight tickets for guests. Additionally, seniors from Loy Norrix and Phoenix high schools, the other two public high schools in Kalamazoo, will each receive one ticket. There also will be a lottery for tickets for Kalamazoo Central students in grades 9-11 who want to attend, though officials have not yet decided how many tickets will be set aside for that lottery.

The president's decision to speak at the Kalamazoo Central commencement was the culmination of a nationwide contest--the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge--that attracted proposals by more than 1,000 schools. The Kalamazoo Central entry was one of three finalists in the contest, and the president personally made the final decision to speak at Kalamazoo Central. The selection was announced by the White House May 4.

The Obama visit will mark the second time in this decade that a sitting president has visited the WMU campus. President George W. Bush came to campus in March 2001 to deliver an address on tax cuts that was sponsored by Southwest Michigan First and the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce. The first sitting president to visit the campus was William Howard Taft, who visited what was then Western Michigan Normal School in 1911.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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