Nearly a year after bringing former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul to campus, the Cornell Republicans announced Wednesday that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, will speak at Cornell in October.
Titled “What do we do now? Education in America,” the Oct. 24 event will be sponsored by the Cornell Republicans and moderated by President David Skorton.
“The Cornell Republicans wanted to have an event dealing with education just because it’s so relevant to everyone at Cornell,” said Jessica Reif ’14, chairman-emeritus of the Cornell Republicans. “This is policy that is extremely important in our lives as students.”
According to Reif, the event will begin with a keynote address from Bush at 5:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Bush and Zimpher. The higher education-based discussion will focus on the mounting cost of college, according to Kyle Ezzedine ’14, chairman of the Cornell Republicans.
“Student debt is really a growing problem,” Ezzedine said. “Even a lot of our parents are still involved with student debt, and many of us are going to be indebted with tens of thousands of dollars. The rate of college tuition is growing than the rate of inflation. … It just seems like a problem that can only get worse if we don’t do anything about it.”
Ezzedine said he hopes the event will help promote discussion among students about the issue of affordability in higher education.
During his time as governor, Bush enacted new plans to evaluate public schools in Florida as governor. He now serves as Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a non-profit organization based in Tallahassee, Fla., according to a Cornell Republicans press release.
Zimpher, who is the current Chancellor of the SUNY system, has additional experience working in higher education through her terms previously serving as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and President of University of Cincinnati.
Student reactions to the announcement of Bush and Zimpher’s coming to Cornell ranged from ambivalence to excitement. While some students were not familiar with Bush’s policies, others met the announcement with zeal.
“I think it’s exciting that Cornell can continue to draw such high profile political figures,” Phil Andriole ’14 said. “Regardless of their political affiliation, it’s always beneficial to the community to hear from such successful, powerful and influential people.”
More than anything, Ezzedine said he hopes that students who attend the event will take ideas from both Bush and Zimpher and look into them to see which types of policies they want to see in place.
“I hope that students can get some concrete ideas from the discussion that are forming,” Ezzedine said. “More than hope, I want students to see ideas that are more policy-driven and that those are in the works.”
Reif echoed Ezzedine’s sentiments, saying she hopes “people find the discussion to be interesting and engaging … and that it will inspire students to start talking about policy issues with education.”
Ezzedine added that the event is not meant to be a “Republican-driven” one — rather, it is supposed to be a “policy-driven event discussing a nonpartisan examination of education.”
Admission to the event is by ticket only on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are free and available at the Willard Straight Hall ticket office beginning Oct. 7.
Original Author: Noah Rankin