South Dakota is last. President Barack Obama has visited every state in the union now as president, except South Dakota. And finally, on May 8, the President will deliver a commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute. So why Watertown?
“(Lake Area Tech is) one of the top community colleges in the nation,” The White House said in a statement. “And is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy.”
The President broke the news in an interview with KSFY TV anchor and USD alumna, Nancy Naeve. She told viewers April 13 the visit is because of Obama’s community college initiative.
With USD’s commencement on May 9, I wonder why he isn’t speaking at the state’s only liberal arts college? Or at least visiting Vermillion?
Maybe on his visit he should take time to stop here. I think politics aside, it’s great to have a presidential visit. It’s good for the economy, it brings the national media to showcase a place probably not well-known to the rest of the country and it brings some sort of inspiration. President George H. W. Bush went to West River, so maybe this time Obama should come to the east side of the state.
- Higher education. The President has been talking a lot about the cost higher education this year. The University of South Dakota has one of the best values for your education. It is very difficult to find a university of this caliber with tuition any less than USD.
- Venue. We have a venue big enough for the President to visit — the DakotaDome or Aalfs Auditorium.
- Leaders. Where can you find a place better in South Dakota that is educating the leaders of tomorrow? We have the only law school and medical school in the state.
However, I understand the White House’s reasons to visit Lake Area Tech. It supports what the President is pushing right now. What we don’t know is if Watertown will be his only visit. The White House said they don’t have any more announcements at this time, but I imagine there will be another quick stop or two.
South Dakota Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen has told national outlets potential spots Obama could visit, which of course include Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and even the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (that’s a long shot).
Wherever the President does go, it is historic once he lands in South Dakota. This will make him the third president to visit all 50 states while in office. Former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton made it to each state during their terms.
Even if he doesn’t have the time to visit Vermillion, to have Obama visit South Dakota with a theme of higher education affects us. But, if some White House advance team member is reading this column, take the time and look at the University of South Dakota and Vermillion. We believe it would be great for a presidential visit.