The University of Michigan has been selected to host a presidential debate on Oct. 15, 2020, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Oct. 11.
The debate, which will take place at Crisler Center, will be the second in a series of three presidential debates next year prior to the Nov. 3 general election.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the university community to contribute to our democracy, while setting an example of civic engagement and shining a light on the outstanding academic strengths of our institution,” President Mark Schlissel said. “Public service and civic engagement are at the core of our great university and its history.”
The debate will be staged largely on the university’s athletics campus. Crisler Center is home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s gymnastics team. Educational and outreach activities will take place in facilities near Crisler Center and in other parts of the Ann Arbor campus.
The university is the alma mater of President Gerald R. Ford, whose legacy lives on in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, which is helping to lead U-M’s debate initiative, and in his presidential library, located on North Campus. Ford was an honorary co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Other presidential debates will take place at the University of Notre Dame on Sept. 29, and Belmont University on Oct. 22. The University of Utah will host a vice presidential debate Oct. 7.
U-M has been the site of many important events in U.S. history, including President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” speech and the clinical trials of the Salk polio vaccine. It was on the steps of the Michigan Union that presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in 1960 announcing his vision for what would become the Peace Corps.
“For generations, the University of Michigan has led the way in advancing understanding of our nation’s most pressing issues — and next year our students, faculty and staff will have a novel opportunity to enhance this essential quality of our mission at the national level,” Schlissel said.
The university community can anticipate themes related to democracy, the election, and the debate — from cybersecurity, to voting rights, to the meaning of truth — to be woven throughout the coming year. They will provide opportunities to engage with the electoral process through curricular and co-curricular experiences, and through various public events enhanced by being a debate site.
The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and has sponsored all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988. It announced in September that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have agreed to become its honorary co-chairs.
Information on public events will be announced in the months to come.