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For Lynn University, 2012 Debate Frenzy '100-Percent Worth It'

Christine DiMattei

Many years from now, hundreds of Lynn University alumni will be able to tell their grandkids, "Yep, I was there."

2012 was the year Lynn went from relatively unknown university to center of the political universe when it hosted the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Just before the October 22nd event, Lynn President Kevin Ross repeatedly referred to the debate as the moment the university had long been waiting for.

But that "moment" involved a major investment.  The university had to put up $5 million, for starters.  And a previously quiet Boca Raton campus was suddenly overrun with security details, technical experts and news outlets from around the globe.

So . . . was it worth it? 

"One-hundred percent,” says Ross.  “We had about 8,000 to 10,000 people on campus that day.  I've never seen that kind of fervor before.  Athletics usually inspires that in people.  But this was democracy. And we were right there in the middle of it.  It was just an amazing moment that we will never forget.”

Historically, other little-known universities who hosted presidential debates weren't soon forgotten.  One example is Washington University in St. Louis, which hosted three.  The Commission on Presidential Debates says Washington U.'s debates boosted its enrollment and even attracted faculty members.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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