Andrew Mullins, chief of staff to the chancellor and assistant professor of education at the University of Mississippi, was recently invited by the Commission on Presidential Debates to meet in Washington, D.C., with representatives from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., the University of Denver in Colorado and Centre College in Danville, Ky. Representatives from Washington University in St. Louis, an alternate institution, were also present.
Recalling the tremendous effort UM faculty, staff, alumni and students made in preparing to host the first of the 2008 debates between then-U.S. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mullins advised the institutions to make a full commitment to the entire process.
Other actions Mullins suggested the host sites follow include acknowledging and rewarding volunteers at all levels, accepting opportunities to speak about the behind-the-scenes preparations in public venues and being sure that any physical campus changes required by the commission are somehow useful to its operation long after the event is past.
Before the commission’s invitation, Mullins had been contacted by several institutions applying to host the 2012 series of debates. He even consulted with administrators at Lynn University and was glad to learn of its selection.