Letter from the Chancellor

Dear Readers:

As I write this column in late January, the attention of the nation is becoming more and more focused on the presidential election in the fall of this year. We’ve moved from a seemingly endless string of debates among the contenders for the Republican nomination to the season of primary elections. The field has narrowed, and the presidential election itself seems much nearer and far more real. With the ongoing Occupy protests, continued stagnation in Congress, our armed forces still in the field, the economy still in the doldrums and the rhetoric flying, things have really begun to sizzle.

For us at DU this can mean only one thing: The first presidential debate of 2012, to be held on campus Oct. 3, is nearly upon us. On that day and the days leading up to it, our university will be the epicenter of political life in the United States. Planning, fundraising and programming all have accelerated dramatically, and the buzz among the campus community is growing day by day.

Without question, the debate at DU will be a major national event. The audience in Magness Arena will be exceeded by the more than 3,000 press and media personnel covering the event. All of the major news organizations will have individual stations on Carnegie Green during the days leading up to the debate. We’ve been told that since it is the first debate of the series, involving a sitting president and taking place at such a  critical time for world and national affairs, the debate at DU may be the single highest-rated television program in all of 2012, surpassing even the Super Bowl. It will be an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the minds and hearts of our wonderful students, the expertise of our tremendous faculty members and the beauty of our glorious campus.

The debate also will provide an extraordinary opportunity to expose our students to democracy at work in America in a very “up close and personal” way. DU will host many programs for the campus community and the public over the next several months, including debates among student political groups, a distinguished speakers series (already begun with this quarter’s installment of Bridges to the Future) and student-led discussion groups. A host of new academic programs will focus on U.S. history, politics and people. On the day of the debate there will be a public event with speeches and music, culminating in a broadcast of the debate at many on-campus locations. We’re also planning several watch parties for DU friends and supporters. I hope you will join the fun by planning a debate-themed event of your own, and that you will connect with our debate-planning group——in doing so.

You can learn about the festivities and programming at, an online resource that aims to keep you up-to-date about everything from debate-related cultural events to special courses we’re offering on political topics. We’re hoping that the debate—of such key importance to our country—will also serve to knit us together as a community.

When Oct. 3 dawns and the curtain rises on this transformational event, we hope you’ll help us make history. This is democracy in all its splendor. This is DU at its best—front and center, committed to taking on the great issues of the day and determined to give our students the experience of a lifetime.

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