President Obama Visits Campus
Lackawanna College had the rare honor of hosting U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the Student Union in a joint appearance on Aug. 23, 2013 as they discussed their plan for college affordability.
Members of the college community played a significant role in the president’s visit to Scranton, his second trip to the city in less than two years. Urica Carver, a member of the Class of 2013, introduced Vice President Biden following the Pledge of Allegiance led by Lackawanna College Police Academy cadet Robert Hunisch. Members of the police academy also worked a security detail alongside members of the Secret Service, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Scranton Police Department.
The appearance marked the end of the president’s four-day, two-city bus tour that took him to the University at Buffalo, Syracuse, and Binghamton before arriving in Scranton.
“We’re here to talk about something important, and that is, are we doing right by not just this generation but future generations,” Obama said.
“I wanted to visit Lackawanna College because of the great work that you’re doing here — giving people a first-class education that doesn’t cost a fortune, with support in place to make sure that students stay on track,” he later added.
In his remarks and introduction of the president, Biden, a Scranton native, recalled his own upbringing and “being raised about 20 blocks from here.”
“We can’t have the doors of college shut to the kids of the middle class and those aspiring to get there; because we can’t let opportunity die,” Biden later added.
Obama said that over the past 30 years, average tuition rates at public four-year colleges have risen by more than 250 percent while the typical family income has only gone up 16 percent. Students are often left with the difficult decision to either say no to college or take on “so much debt that they’re not sure they’re ever going to be able to pay it back,” he said.
In his remarks at Lackawanna, Obama outlined three major goals toward reforming college education costs: A new rating system for colleges outlining criteria including selectivity and cost; Encouraging innovation in higher education including an emphasis on online courses and partnerships between colleges and high schools; and controlling student loan debt through capped repayments and a system that better educates borrowers about their options.
“We can get this done. We can get college more affordable. We can have the best-trained workforce in the world if we keep on moving forward,” Obama said. “And Joe and I are going to keep pushing for a better bargain for the middle class, a better bargain for the next generation. And, Scranton, we’re going to need your help to get it done.”