Released: Aug. 17, 1999
College pursues opportunity to host presidential debate
DANVILLE, KY- Centre College has put in a formal proposal to the Commission on Presidential Debates to become a host site for a debate during the upcoming presidential campaign. According to Centre President John Roush, competition among potential debate sites will be strong, but the college and the entire region would benefit if Centre were selected.
"This is a bit of a long shot," Roush says, "but we did our homework and submitted a strong proposal. We will not know the final outcome for several months, but if Centre were selected, I believe Danville and all of Central Kentucky would open their arms wide to participate in such a historic political event."
Kentucky last hosted a presidential debate in Louisville on Oct. 7, 1984, between President Ronald Reagan and Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Centre's most recent contact with a U.S. President came in 1987 when former President Jimmy Carter came to campus to deliver the commencement address.
Roush says the Commission on Presidential Debates will review proposals this summer and, for those sites that meet initial requirements, there will be site visits in September or October. The commission will make final selections in December and announce them in January. The debates are likely to be scheduled next year in the late summer or early fall.
If Centre is selected, the college will spend about $500,000 to cover the typical costs for a host site. Roush indicates that all such funds would be raised from outside donations.
The commission will not comment on the number of proposals received this year but indicates that in the last cycle of debates, there were 45 proposals.
This year's proposal deadline was June 15. To meet that deadline, Centre submitted a comprehensive packet that included detailed information about the proposed site of the debate (Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts, with a seating capacity around 1,500) and a media host site (Sutcliffe Hall in the Athletic Center). The college also provided extensive information about hotel accommodations in the region, cultural attractions and local history.
Roush has experience with presidential debates due to his prior work as a vice president of the University of Richmond. Roush was part of a UR administrative team which helped that institution secure and host a presidential debate in 1992 featuring George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Roush says that preparing for and hosting the debate served to "energize and transform" the university, and he believes Centre and the surrounding region would benefit from such an experience.
"The value to Danville and to Centre College would be extraordinary," Roush said. "In addition to worldwide publicity, the college and the community would have a chance to execute an event that would raise the standard of performance for all those involved -- community leaders, college faculty and students, and citizens of the region."
The Commission on Presidential Debates is a quasi-government organization
headquartered in Washington. The executive director is Janet Brown. Before
the commission was formed, presidential debates were organized and hosted
as a public service of the League of Women Voters.
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