President Barack Obama addressed an audience of community leaders, elected officials and students at the University of Michigan Intramural building in Ann Arbor on April 2. The crowd of several thousand people was there early, with students lining up around the block and buzzing with excitement hours before the event. Several members of Congress were in attendance, including Congressman Gary Peters, who shared lunch with the President at Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s Deli prior to the speech.
During his comments, President Obama spoke about a number of issues that are of great importance to our country, our community, to students, and to workers. He discussed his view that the economy is indeed doing better, with new jobs being created, even in the manufacturing sector.
The President also spoke about “the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams and our willingness to take responsibility for ourselves, and for others.” He went on to talk about the effort to help create more jobs paying good wages through tax breaks to companies that are creating jobs in the United States.
On the education front, President Obama said that, “Opportunity means guaranteeing every young person access to a world-class education, and that’s got to start with pre-K, all the way through higher education. And it means making college more affordable.”
Dr. Bellanca, who was in attendance, noted that the President’s remarks were “eloquent and personal”. She added, “The President knew how to connect with this audience in a touching and personal way. And his approach to education is on point. He understands that we need to address our education challenges from a preschool to college perspective”.
In addition, Dr. Bellanca noted that the President’s concern for making college more affordable was particularly on-point, and is an area where community colleges like WCC are making an important difference in keeping the cost of higher education low.
The President also spent a fair amount of time during his speech advocating for an increase in the minimum wage across America, and mentioned that six states have already passed laws to raise their minimum wage, including Connecticut which was the first state to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. He referred to Henry Ford who 100 years ago announced he was doubling his worker’s wages, which boosted productivity and reduced turnover.
Also attending the President’s speech from WCC were Vice President of Advancement Wendy Lawson and Director of Government Relations Jason Morgan. Jason had the opportunity to shake the President’s hand, which was captured in the photo shown.