University active for RNC

No matter what oneâÄôs political stripes, the recent Republican National Convention put our entire community on the global stage. With tens of thousands of media representatives and visitors coming to town, this was a great opportunity to showcase the University of Minnesota and enhance our educational mission as well. A recent Minnesota Daily editorial once again criticized the University for what it seems to argue was an inadequate level of University activity during the recent Republican National Convention. To the best of our knowledge, The Minnesota Daily has never actually inquired as to what the University did during the convention âÄî and it was quite a bit. The Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs hosted four days of extensive programming that was open to the public and accessible through live streaming on the Internet to convention attendees, journalists, students, faculty and staff. More than 80 prominent public figures took part in 21 hours of programming that spanned 16 different panels. Those panels included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Minn.), Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), former New York Gov. George Pataki, former CIA Director James Woolsey, Reagan National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and a number of other prominent policy-makers, politicians, journalists and pundits. Arguably, this is the most star-studded cast ever at a public policy and political discussion on our campus. We also worked aggressively to reach out to the 15,000 national and international media who came to town for the convention to highlight the expertise of our outstanding faculty. A special website was created to highlight those faculty, and we also handed out special flash drives at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, where the press was housed during the RNC. Staff at MeetMinneapolis, the convention and visitors bureau, described the University flash drives as the âÄúhot itemâÄù at the RiverCentre. In addition to information on faculty, they included information on campus and a range of story ideas on political issues, policy-related research and education topics. These efforts resulted in dozens of interviews with media across the nation and around the globe. President Bruininks, for example, spent a half hour on C-SPAN answering viewer questions about how the election impacts higher education. Political science professor Kathryn Pearson alone did more than 30 interviews, offering her perspective on the convention. Also, the PBS program, âÄúWashington Week with Gwen IfillâÄù was taped with a full studio audience of 1,200 students, faculty and staff at Ted Mann Concert Hall. We hosted voter outreach efforts by national news organizations on campus, enabling students to learn more about the elections and how those networks are covering them. C-SPANâÄôs mobile studio bus and CNNâÄôs voter outreach trailer both spent time on campus, highlighting the importance of young people getting out to vote. Finally, dozens of University destinations, including the Weisman Art Museum, the Stem Cell Institute, the Raptor Center and the Bell Museum of Natural History were featured in a brochure that was included in the welcome packets for every delegate and member of the media who attended the RNC. University staff arranged a number of tours to campus, including the entire Michigan delegation touring our bioscience research facilities. From the very beginning, the University approached the RNC as a way to offer academic opportunities and improve the visibility of our institution. We worked closely with the local host committee to ensure that our activities were coordinated with the community-wide effort and that we were in a position to support the enormous transportation and logistical needs of the convention. Given that the RNC occurred during the first week of classes, this was an enormous challenge. But by all informed accounts, we were successful in that effort. Rosenstone is the vice president of scholarly and cultural affairs, and Hestness is the UniversityâÄôs police Chief, co-chaired the RNC Planning Committee. Please send comments to [email protected]