University of Denver Magazine
We pulled it off.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the University’s Division of Marketing and Communications was scrambling to put together a press conference to announce that the University of Denver had been chosen to host the first presidential debate of the 2012 election. A year of furious planning followed — from developing the stories that would capture what this momentous event meant to putting a plan in place to cover the debate as it happened. We wrestled with deadlines, with technological limitations and with the stress that came with it all.
Then came the week of Oct. 3. For a few days, the eyes of the nation were on the University of Denver, and it was incredibly exciting.
MSNBC set up a mobile stage just east of the Mary Reed Building, where my office is located. The Ritchie Center parking lot was transformed into a crush of satellite trucks, newscaster platforms and TV cameras. And right outside my office window, the DebateFest stage was set up in the span of a day. On campus, I saw everyone from political pundits and media heavyweights to Secret Service officers and bomb-sniffing dogs. I even saw the two candidates — in the form of cardboard cutouts that made their way around campus throughout the day.
It was the longest day I’ve worked in my University of Denver career — more than 12 hours of live blogging, photo sizing, story editing and reporting. But it was probably the best day of my University career as well.
We talk a lot about how politics divide our nation. But the debate has made me feel the opposite. Although many of the thousands of students, alumni and neighbors on campus that day voiced their support for either candidate, they still overwhelmingly came together in support of the University.
Now that it’s over, we’re experiencing a sort of withdrawal — all that planning, all that work, and it’s over in a day. But we already know that the exposure the University got during the debate will live on past this election cycle. And though it’s over, there’s still a lot to look forward to: the state-of-the-art Academic Commons opening in the spring; a celebration of the University’s 150th anniversary in 2014.
We should all be proud to be Pioneers — and that’s not up for debate.