Clinton lecture deserves praise

The University did its best to accommodate the most people possible.

In a Nov. 9 letter to the editor, University student Lacy Schumacher praised the Nov. 5 Distinguished Carlson Lecture featuring former President Bill Clinton, but questioned student access to the event. As the Carlson Distinguished Lecture Series will continue to bring speakers of national and global stature to the University, I thought it best to address Schumacher’s concerns and explain how tickets were distributed.

As Schumacher noted, the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs presented the event and has been the steward of the Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series for 25 years. The lectures always are on campus ” even when a larger, off-campus venue might be desirable ” and always are free of charge.

The majority of tickets for President Clinton’s lecture were distributed free to the public. All four ticket outlets were intentionally located on the University campus to give students the best possible opportunity to get tickets, which were limited to two per person. Schumacher is correct when she notes that tickets to the event were distributed within minutes of release. Students and others queued up for hours to get tickets. Some went so far as to spend the night outside in sleeping bags in order to be near the head of the ticket line.

All students, faculty and staff members of the Humphrey Institute were offered two tickets to President Clinton’s lecture, and most took advantage of the opportunity. The Carlson Companies, whose founder, Curtis L. Carlson, created the generous endowment that continues to fund the series, received tickets for family members and company representatives. Minnesota Public Radio, a presenting partner, at the request of President Clinton’s foundation, also received tickets.

Nearly 5,000 lucky individuals saw President Clinton speak in person. In addition, the program was televised live at the Crookston, Duluth and Rochester campuses, giving students and other residents in those communities access to the event. The program also was webcast live, and rebroadcast on Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television Channel 17. Through these media, thousands more were able to enjoy President Clinton’s remarks.

President Clinton did not accept a fee for his appearance, sharing a desire to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Distinguished Carlson Lectures and the legacy of Hubert H. Humphrey, in whose honor the series was created. For those members of the University community who were unable to see the event or hear it rebroadcast, I encourage you to visit the Humphrey Institute Web site (www.hhh.umn.edu) to listen to the president’s remarks. A complete transcript will also be available on the Web site soon.

Camille J. Gage is a coordinator for the Humphrey Institute. Please send comments to [email protected]