It was no April Fools joke when the university president sent an April 1 e-mail saying that President George W. Bush had accepted an invitation to deliver the spring commencement address May 14 at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon.
“We are delighted that the President will be here for this occasion,” said the e-mail from Dr. Patrick Ferry, Concordia’s president. “It will be a momentous event for us.”
“We are so pleased that he’s holding us up as a liberal arts school that deserves this kind of recognition,” Ferry told Reporter. “I think it’s good for the entire Concordia University System and for our church body.”
Ferry said that he sent a letter early this year inviting Bush to be the commencement speaker and received confirmation from the White House March 31 that Bush had accepted the invitation.
On April 1, the White House released a schedule of Bush’s speaking engagements that included graduation addresses only at Concordia, Louisiana State University and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“I think it is very important that President Bush would choose Concordia-Wisconsin to represent relatively small colleges and universities,” said Ferry.
“The President often speaks of his faith and his faith-based initiatives,” he noted. “The integration of faith and learning is what we are all about. So the fact that the President is coming here serves to highlight our mission, which is very meaningful for us.”
Admission to this year’s commencement exercises in the university’s R. John Buuck Field House is by ticket only. Ferry said he expects an audience of “closer to 5,000,” compared with about 2,500 in recent years.
He indicated that university personnel “will work closely with a White House advance team in terms of specifics for the event.”
During commencement, Ferry plans to present Bush with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Posted April 30, 2004