Published 12/16/08

Bryant students head to Washington, D.C., for firsthand look at inauguration, presidential transition

SMITHFIELD, R.I.  - Seventeen Bryant University students are heading to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10 to witness a monumental moment in American history - the inauguration of Barack Obama as the country's 44th president.

READ: Washington Post "Faces in the Crowd" features Bryant students

The students are enrolled in "2009 Presidential Inauguration," a three-credit winter-session course designed by political scientist Richard Holtzman, assistant professor of history and social sciences. They will attend classes at Bryant Jan. 6-9, then will board a train for Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, where they will take part in academic seminars at The Washington Center through Jan. 20.

The course offers an examination of the 2008 presidential election and the leadership challenges facing the new administration. The students also will visit a number of embassies, executive branch offices, media organizations, and think tanks on Capitol Hill, and have opportunities to take part in a number of public inauguration events. (A few are even volunteering at inaugural balls.)

In preparation for the class, the students are reading Memo to a New President by historian Michael A. Genovese. Upon returning from Washington, D.C., each student will write his or her own memo to President Obama.

Holtzman said that the U.S. students requested inauguration tickets from their representatives and senators, and the international students (one is from Ghana, another from Russia) spoke to their embassies in the hope of getting official inauguration tickets, but "we'll all go down to the Mall no matter what."