The UM Convocation Center was the site of the first 2004 presidential debate.

Presidential debate was historic for the University of Miami

For more than a year the wheels have been in motion for the University of Miami to host this year's first presidential debate -- a monumental effort that involved students, faculty, and staff throughout all areas of the institution. At 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, the planning and preparations came to fruition when President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry took the stage at the UM Convocation Center on the Coral Gables campus for what was arguably the most high-profile event in the University's history. Here are some numbers from the event:

  • Approximately 63 million Americans viewed the debate on television.
  • Two hundred and fifty students attended the debate and watched it live, the most students ever to watch a debate live on a college campus.
  • More than 3,000 credentialed news media were on campus that week. This was the most ever credentialed for a presidential debate.
  • More than 200 daily newspapers featured the debate (and mentioned the University of Miami) the next day.

The University of Miami has been featured in thousands of print and online news media around the country and around the world. To read what the world is saying about the presidential debate at the University of Miami, visit our Media Information page.

Throughout the year, the University’s schools, colleges, and divisions have presented an extensive and robust series of exhibits, community forums, panel discussions, lectures, concerts, and films to complement the occasion. A number of these events have already been presented and are chronicled in our Debate Events Archive and in our Photo Gallery. For information on the exciting forthcoming events, refer to the Debate Calendar.

Three beaming UM students proudly display their tickets to the debate.

Lucky UM students attended the presidential debate

President Shalala described them as "the luckiest people on earth" -- the more than 250 students who personally witnessed political history in the making. Winners were chosen from 689 essays representing all areas of the student body, including undergraduate, graduate, medical, and law, in addition to student leaders. In order to enable one more student to attend, President Shalala gave her own ticket to UM senior and Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams. "I'm thrillled that such a large cross-section of our student population was able to attend in person. This election is, after all, about their future," said President Shalala.

Scene and Heard

Debate Watch Party
September 30, 2004

Sebastian the Ibis, dressed as Uncle Sam, takes in the Debate Watch Party, where thousands of students and guests watched the debate on large-screen televisions and enjoyed food and live entertainment.

Debate Dialogue: Students' Perspective

These students, who were among the many volunteers for the presidential debate and related activities, offer their perspectives on the importance of voting and participating in the democratic process.

Judson Dry
Major: Business Administration

"With the ability to swing an election, the power to create change, and the civic duty to voice our opinions, we hold within ourselves the capacity to become the voice of democracy for today and tomorrow."

Francine Madera
Major: Public
"I think our generation just assumes that one vote won't really make a difference. But they don't realize that all of those 'ones' do add up and indirectly end up making a difference."

David Ingenito
Major: Commun-ication Studies/ Political Science

"With the advent of global terrorism and great threats to our borders ever looming, I believe that it is more important than ever for college students to become involved and influence the policy that so greatly affects our lives."
Elizabeth Lieb Senior
Major: English

"It is important for students to get involved in the election process as soon as they are eligible because freedom (the right to vote) is one of the principles on which our country was founded. It is an individual's right and duty to gain the political knowledge necessary to make an informed vote."

Deepa Patel Sophomore
Major: Biology
"By voting and moreover becoming involved in the election process, college students have the unique capacity to bring new and innovative ideas to the political forefront as well as revive the patriotism on campuses around the nation."

Jennifer Alvarez Sophomore
Major: Biology/English
"America is built on the people's voice and thus volunteering, as well as voting, allows one to engage in, as well as strongly encourage others, to exercise that voice in our community."

University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida 33124
Telephone: 305-284-2211
Requests for information.
View Privacy Statement
  Copyright 1997-2004 University of Miami,
All Rights Reserved.
Send technical feedback.