If the University is accepted as a host, the event would be held in the 2,012-seat EKU Center for the Arts, expected to open this fall. It is anticipated that a Presidential Debate would attract approximately 5,000 guests (including approximately 3,000 media personnel) to the community and area, some staying for as long as a week.
“The prospect of hosting a 2012 President Debate excites me for our University, community, region, and state,” President Doug Whitlock said. “It is particularly exciting when I think of what it would mean for our students educationally to witness history in the making and to see an event of national, even international, importance play out before them.
“We are truly grateful for the support shown to this project by Richmond, Berea, Madison County, Lexington, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Whitlock added. “Governor Beshear, Senator McConnell, Representative Chandler and many others here in the state and in the nation's capital have given us encouragement. We would not be making this application without their endorsements and unless we thought we had a legitimate chance.
“During the course of this process, we will have a visit from representatives of the Commission on President Debates. I am confident they will be impressed by our facilities, our capacity, the resources of the region, and our can-do attitude.”
A news conference held today on the Richmond campus also featured remarks from Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler, several local officials, and Debra Hoskins, Executive Director of EKU’s Center for the Arts.
Site surveys will be scheduled for April-June and conducted by members of the Commission. Proposals and site surveys will be reviewed this summer, and the CPD plans to announce the 2012 sites and debates this fall. Neither the number of applicants nor the number of debates is known at this time. All applicants will be announced Thursday, March 31. In 2007, 16 proposals were submitted, and three Presidential Debates were held the following year.
The proposal emphasizes several strengths University officials believe make EKU and the Richmond-Berea-Lexington area ideally suited to host such an event:
- An easily accessible location, served by interstate highways in all directions and the Blue Grass Airport.
- An experienced leadership team bolstered by several individuals who played key roles in logistics, security and communications with the Vice Presidential Debate held in Danville in 2000, including Hoskins, who was serving at the time as Director of the Programs at the Norton Center, which hosted the debate.
- The spacious, state-of-the-art Center for the Arts and other nearby campus facilities, such as the Perkins Building, Business & Technology Center and Alumni Coliseum, among others, which would serve auxiliary purposes, such as credentialing and media filing. If selected as a site, the EKU Center would be among the largest venues to date to host a Presidential Debate.
- More than 10,000 hotel and motel rooms in Richmond, Lexington and Berea.
- Security personnel in Richmond and Lexington who have worked previous local events involving national and international figures.
- The expressed support of local officials in Madison and Fayette counties to offer municipal resources as needed. The University’s proposal also includes letters of support from Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Chandler, local governmental and business leaders, and telecommunications companies, among many others.
- The availability of shuttle services to and from the airport and to and from lodging locations.
A video accompanying the proposal package is narrated by Nick and Nina Clooney, Maysville native and acclaimed print and broadcast journalist. Nick Clooney, who received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the University when he spoke at a commencement ceremony in 2008, is the father of actor George Clooney and brother of legendary singer Rosemary Clooney.
A regional comprehensive university serving approximately 16,500 students, Eastern Kentucky University has earned national recognition on several fronts in the past two years. It is the only college or university nationwide that can claim all the following “Points of Pride”:
- First Tier, Southern Master’s Universities (U.S. News & World Report)
- America’s Best Colleges (Forbes)
- America’s Great Colleges to Work For (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- National recognition for community engagement (Carnegie Foundation)
- Military-Friendly School (G.I. Jobs)
- Best for Vets, No. 1 Nationally (Military Times EDGE)
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.