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UC Irvine wants President Obama as graduation speaker in June

Five years ago, UC Merced students successfully persuaded First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at their commencement ceremony that spring. They had bombarded her with hundreds of valentines and pulled every possible political string between Central California and Washington. To their delight and surprise, she accepted and addressed what was the new school’s first graduating class.

Now, UC Irvine is hoping similar tactics will work with her husband.

The Orange County campus has asked President Obama to deliver the school’s commencement address on June 14, possibly at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. An anticipated 10,000 invitation postcards from students, alumni and staff are scheduled to be delivered to the White House soon.

Plans are in the works to also send a special video from the campus basketball team, aiming at the president’s love of watching and playing hoops.

UC Irvine spokeswoman Janet Wilson said a presidential visit would be appropriate because then-President Johnson spoke at the dedication ceremony for the campus on June 20, 1964. “We’d like to kick off our 50th anniversary celebration with another visit from the president of the United States,” she said.

UC Irvine officials understand that there is a lot of competition among universities, but the school is “very hopeful” to receive a positive response in April, Wilson said.

Last spring, Obama delivered three graduation speeches: at Morehouse College in Georgia, Ohio State University and the U.S. Naval Academy.

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larry.gordon@latimes.com

Twitter: @larrygordonlat

 

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