Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
"Flawless," defined by Webster's Dictionary, means
"having no flaw; perfect." Time to update the dictionary:
add "UM's management of the first Presidential Debate
It would be hard to imagine a better team effort than last
night's performance. And it was right here on our Coral Gables
campus -- not at the Orange Bowl. Aileen Ugalde (our team
captain), Pat Whitely, Jerry Lewis, Alan Fish, and their enormously
talented and dedicated staffs deserve kudos and thanks for
being our Campus Heroes (see Presidential Debate Committee
list, below). What an extraordinary undertaking, and equally
extraordinary results, from Student Affairs, University Communications,
Business Services, Information Technology, University Advancement,
and Facilities -- and Laurie DeSchryver here in my office
keeping track of the mind-boggling day-to-day logistics.
In the last two hours before the debate, the Commission on
Presidential Debates stunned UM officials and released more
than 100 additional tickets for our students in the nosebleed
section. The Student Affairs team scrambled to call disappointed
essay writers who hadn't made the initial list, and shocked
student volunteers were abruptly pulled from their debate
assignments and given seats at the last minute. In the end,
an estimated 250 students witnessed history -- the largest
number of students ever to attend a presidential debate on
a university campus.
Across campus, our official Debate Watch Party hosted 4,500
students, as well as a number of faculty and staff. It was
fun, but it was also nourishing to the mind and body. MSNBC
and CNN anchored either side of our student center with political
pundits and media stars. South Beach's premier restaurateur
and caterer Barton G. provided the food. The only gate-crasher
(or trespasser), Ralph Nader, witnessed the University's good
sense and good manners and was left alone to eat and to talk
and talk and talk . . . .
Happily, the anticipated inconveniences were overstated.
Aside from a little heavy traffic and some relocated parking,
everything moved smoothly and without a hitch.
There are no encores for such brilliant performances - just
a grateful thanks from all of us in this wonderful community.
Presidential Debate Committee
Teresa de la Guardia