Message from VP of Operations and Planning

UT is extraordinarily placed for Fall 2012. The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held on Aug. 27-30, 2012, at The Tampa Convention Center and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, about a mile from campus. The University will be continuing with its Fall 2012 academic schedule and August student leader training and athletic activities.

The RNC, like the Obama-Biden Town Hall Meeting that we hosted in January 2010, presents unique opportunities for students to experience democracy in action. We want to take every advantage of what this engagement has to offer, and there will be many campus programs and events planned that will enhance the educational experience. UT has a rich history with national events, and these events serve to complement what we do best: teaching and learning.

Today I write with baseline information about the RNC and our UT-based planning efforts.

The Convention

The Tampa Bay Host Committee provides these and other convention facts on their website:
  • With approximately 13,000 – 15,000 members of the media in attendance, the RNC is the single largest media event in the world except for the Olympic Games.
  • The Host Committee has more than 15,000 hotel rooms booked for each night of the Convention and more than 75 event venues under contract.
  • The direct spending impact for the convention will total approximately $175 – $200 million. This does not take into account the economic "multiplier" effect which can equate to 2.5 times the actual amount of hard dollars spent.
  • The amount of electricity, cabling and fiber connectivity will likely be the most ever utilized for any event in the state of Florida.
  • The last time a presidential nominating convention was held in Florida was 1972. In that year, both the Republican and Democrat national committees held their conventions in Miami Beach.
  • Approximately 350 full-size charter buses and more than 500 private vehicles will be utilized during the week of the convention.
  • In excess of 7,500 volunteers will be assisting during the week of the convention.
  • The convention is designated by the Department of Homeland Security as one of only four National Special Security Events (NSSE) to be held in 2012.

Planning for and Communicating about RNC 2012

Pres. Vaughn has designated an on-campus planning group that has been meeting since last summer and has appointed me chair. The group consists of representatives from all campus areas and is listed below my signature. Since we began our work, we have met with local Tampa leaders and law enforcement representatives. We have talked with staff at colleges and universities who were familiar with the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, getting their best advice, and analyzed their reports. These activities are helping us understand the potential opportunities and impact so that we can plan accordingly for educational, safety, communications, and other issues.

RNC is a community-wide effort, and UT is part of that effort, cooperatively planning and sharing information. We want your questions and comments, too. You can write the planning group at RNC2012@ut.edu. The University has developed a Web presence for information sharing about the RNC: www.ut.edu/rnc. It will be regularly updated and should be considered the primary source for information about the RNC for UT community members.

Educational Opportunities

We believe the RNC will allow for students to have a once in a lifetime experience to be so closely engaged with and learn from the democratic process. This political process provides opportunities for the curriculum and co-curriculum campus wide. There is a separate faculty sub-committee of our RNC group, listed below my signature, that is specifically focusing on course delivery and policy issues as we all want this week to go as smoothly as possible. We believe that UT students will have meaningful and exciting opportunities.

Campus Safety

As always, safety is a top priority. We're enhancing our campus safety staffing, contracting for additional assistance, and preparing for the security of our campus entrances and borders. Safety education will be important. With 50,000 visitors in town for the convention, plus numerous protesters, it will be critical that all UT community members actively take part in making campus a secure and safe area. More safety-related information and tips are forthcoming.

Things to Keep in Mind

We will make every effort to keep you posted as plans unfold and decisions are made. Here are some things you'll want to keep in mind.
  • As UT has many beautiful meeting facilities, it is likely that we will be hosting some RNC events. These events will be coordinated through the RNC Host Committee and our campus staff. Increased bus traffic to campus is likely.
  • To assist with travel plans for parents and new students, there have been some slight modifications made to Fall 2012 orientation programs. New undergraduate student orientation programs will begin on Monday, Aug. 20. Residential students may drop off their belongings on Sunday, Aug. 19. As dates are finalized for all orientation programs, they will be posted at www.ut.edu/orientation.
  • Continuing residential students may move on campus on Saturday, Aug. 25. We advise all students traveling to Tampa to make their plans early to avoid complications and challenges (now is not too early!).
  • Faculty, staff, and students will need to be ready to present their Spartan ID cards at any time during RNC. UT will provide each UT community member with a lanyard and ID holder to make identification easier. This will help particularly with access to campus and parking facilities. 

What an exciting time to be at UT!

Linda Devine, Ph.D.
Vice President for Operations and Planning
RNC Committee
RNC2012@ut.edu

Bob Ruday
Brent Benner
Catherine Chastain-Elliott
Dave Ramsey
Edesa Scarborough
Eric Cardenas
Joe Sclafani
Kevin Howell
Kevin Lafferty
Krystal Schofield
Larry Marfise
Megan Frisque
Michael Gilmer
Monnie Wertz
Stephanie Russell Krebs
Tim Harding
Donna Alexander
Linda Devine, Chair

Faculty Sub-committee
Andrew McAllister
Jonathan McKeown
Jay O'Sullivan
Judy Washburn
Joy Harris
Catherine Chastain-Elliott
Joe Sclafani, Chair

Published Jan. 18, 2012