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White House connection benefits VisCom faculty, friends

Oct 18, 2012

Pictured are, front row: Josh Birnbaum, Marlene Shostak, Lyntha Eiler, Lisa Villamil, Marcy Nighswander, Li Tao, Judy Reed, Terry Eiler, Nick Steinbauer, Gary Kirksey;  and second row, Becky Sell, Matt Spolar, Larry Hamel-Lambert, Jane Hamel-Lambert, President Barack Obama, Christopher Alost, Stan Alost, Julie Elman, Pete Souza and Sam Girton.

White House connection benefits VisCom faculty, friends

Meet-and-greet with President Obama part of the VisCom VIP experience

By Erin Roberts,

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 18, 2012) - Several Ohio University School of Visual Communication faculty and friends had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama prior to his speech in Athens on Wed., Oct. 17, thanks to a friend in high places.

Pete Souza, who was appointed official White House photographer shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008, is a faculty member in the School. When Professor Marcy Nighswander, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work covering the 1992 presidential debates while working as a photographer for the Associated Press in D.C,, heard about the Presidential visit on Friday, she got in contact with her colleague, who sent her VIP tickets to distribute to VisCom faculty and friends.

While waiting for the President to speak, Nighswander was approached by a White House staffer who told her the group might have the opportunity to meet with Souza and the President. They were then ushered into Memorial Auditorium where they had the opportunity to greet Souza and President Obama.

“The meeting was remarkably warm and friendly,” said Terry Eiler, the school’s director. “Obama teased a bit about Pete and the portfolio of work that he showed to get the job. The President jokingly said he made the same mistake we did and hired Pete. However, he quickly told us he intended to keep him for the next four years.”

After a group picture opportunity, the group returned to their seats for the event. Souza, who joined the faculty of Ohio University in fall 2007, took an extended leave of absence from the classroom for the White House job. He is the author of "The Rise of Barack Obama," which made The New York Times Best Sellers list.