Republican Presidential Debate

November 27, 2011 by staff 

Republican Presidential Debate, History might or might not remember what happens in next year’s presidential debate at Lynn University, but the event and the preparations for it promise to be an unforgettable experience for the tiny school.

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates chose Lynn last month to host the third of three 2012 presidential debates. For a 2,100-student institution that’s not particularly well-known outside southern Palm Beach County, the selection offers a huge opportunity.

“It’s definitely a seminal moment, one of those times when you’ve got a lot of light and heat surrounding the institution,” says Lynn President Kevin Ross. “This is kind of our moment to shine and show the best of ourselves.”

Over the next 11 months, Lynn plans to raise and spend about $4.5 million from private sources to prepare for the Oct. 22 debate. There are plans to bring in high-profile speakers, schedule special programs on campus and incorporate debate-related themes into the school’s “Dialogues of Learning” core curriculum.

Other colleges, particularly smaller ones, say hosting a nationally televised debate can be a transformative event that helps boost applications and fund-raising and the institution’s overall prestige while giving students a unique brush with history.

“It’s difficult for a small undergraduate teaching institution that plays Division III sports to be well-known nationwide,” says Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations at the 1,300-student Centre College in Danville, Ky.

Centre hosted a 2000 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman and is slated to host another vice presidential debate in 2012.

“The debate (in 2000) probably created more energy and interest around what was happening at the college than anything I’ve seen in nearly 40 years as a college administrator,” said Trollinger, who cites the debate as one of the reasons applications and donations to the school have increased.

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