President to visit UW-Madison campus Thursday

October 1, 2012

Photo: Obama overflow 2010

An overflow crowd filled Bascom Hill and surrounding areas to hear President Barack Obama’s speech at Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on Sept. 28, 2010.

Photo: Jeff Miller

President Obama is scheduled to visit the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus on Thursday, Oct. 4 for an afternoon speech on Bascom Hill.

Entry to the hill will begin at noon, and tickets for the event are available here. More important details on attending the rally and its effect on campus can be found here.

A presidential visit to the central campus will influence class, work and building schedules on Thursday, as well as traffic in and around campus. Please visit this site frequently for more specifics on the visit.


For more on campus building access during the day on Thursday, click here.

This will mark just the second time that a sitting president has visited the campus since President Harry Truman came to UW–Madison on May 14, 1950. The other visit took place when Obama came to Library Mall on Sept. 28, 2010.

Here’s a look at other visits by sitting presidents, past presidents and candidates who would go on to the Oval Office, based on a search of university archival material and the State Historical Society:

President Rutherford B. Hayes, Sept. 10, 1878: According to a 1929 Milwaukee Journal story, Hayes is reported to have “Visited the Ladies Hall at the university and mingled in ‘a friendly manner with the young lady students.’”

Woodrow Wilson, Oct. 26, 1911: A year before being elected president, Wilson spoke at a university gymnasium at a luncheon organized by state Democrats, according to the Milwaukee Journal.

President William H. Taft, May 5-7, 1915: Two years after being defeated for re-election, Taft gave a series of speeches in the Red Gym.

President Theodore Roosevelt, May 28, 1918: Roosevelt made it to campus after leaving the Oval Office, delivering a speech in the Stock Pavilion, one of the only large venues in the Madison area at the time. He was supposed to be on campus on April 3, 1903, but ended up just speaking at the state Capitol during that visit to Madison.

Photo: Hoover headline


President Herbert Hoover, Nov. 5, 1932: When Hoover spoke at the Field House on a corps of university cadet officers lined Capitol Square to welcome him, and about 60,000 people lined the streets to see him pass by. A crowd of 12,000 attended a Field House event that was somewhat marred by the president’s tired voice and a faulty amplifier.

Despite the world economic crisis, he was not booed. However, days later, he received 31% of the vote in Wisconsin, compared with 63% for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, says David Canon, UW–Madison political science professor.

“That’s pretty remarkable for a president who was really not very popular at the time and ended up getting thumped in the election three days later,” Canon says. “Having a live visit from a president would be more important in 1932 than today. Right before the age of television, that would be the only way to see a president, so that would be one way of explaining that huge crowd.”

Photo: Truman headline


President Harry Truman, April 16, 1948: Truman visited UW twice as sitting president. The first visit was April 16, 1948, when he appeared at the Stock Pavilion.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oct. 28, 1949: Three years before being elected president, Eisenhower attended a meeting of the Association of American Universities while serving as president of Columbia University.

President Harry Truman, May 14, 1950: According to the State Journal, Truman visited Madison to give a “peace” address to a crowd at the UW–Madison Field House and a nationwide radio audience. “No one nation can bring about peace,” Truman told listeners at the Field House. Just weeks later on June 25, 1950, hostilities began between North and South Korea, pulling the United States into that bloody conflict.

That visit by Truman was unique in the university’s history because it was for a policy purpose rather than a partisan campaign visit, Canon notes. However, Truman visited campus two years earlier during his re-election campaign, speaking to a capacity-filled Stock Pavilion.

Photo: John F. Kennedy


Candidate John F. Kennedy, Oct. 23, 1960: Kennedy filled the Field House for a campaign speech that touched on civil rights and social justice, economic growth and the Cold War.

Two years earlier, Kennedy gave a speech at the Memorial Union Theater and said about his visit with some UW students, “I found the students at Wisconsin alert, intelligent and uninhibited. It was a most stimulating meeting for me,” according to the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

President Jimmy Carter, March 1, 1994: Thirteen years after leaving office, Carter delivered a speech at the Memorial Union Theater.

Candidate Barack Obama, Feb. 12, 2008: Obama packed the Kohl Center on a cold February evening, a night he also won primaries in the Potomac states. The crowd was estimated at 17,000, with several thousand more outside who were not able to enter.

President Bill Clinton, Feb. 14, 2008: Clinton, in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, visited the Stock Pavilion, where he drew a crowd of several thousand supporters.

President Barack Obama, Sept. 28, 2010: Obama visited Library Mall and spoke to a crowd estimated at 17,200 in the mall, and about 10,000 more who fanned out across Bascom Hill.

Tags: events