When Bill Clinton came to Galesburg in 1995 to launch his Middle Class Bill of Rights, John Schlaf was chief of the Galesburg Police Department.
Schlaf now heads security for Knox College and again is working with Secret Service agents, this time in preparation for Clinton’s arrival on Saturday to deliver the commencement address at the college.
“Chief Schlaf has been wonderful to have here,” said Karrie Heartlein, director of public relations at Knox. “He’s been through this before and he understands how the Galesburg Police Department works.”
Secret Service agents have been in town since at least Tuesday, working with college and law enforcement officials.
“We didn’t have to deal with Secret Service with previous speakers,” Heartlein said.
Clinton was a sitting president last time he visited Galesburg, so security likely will be different this time around, Heartlein said.
“Campus security is working closely with the Galesburg Police Department to make sure we have sufficient security personnel on campus. All of our security people will be working this weekend,” Heartlein said.
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Former President Bill Clinton is slated to deliver the commencement address at Knox College on Saturday.
Clinton will speak and receive an honorary degree from the school, which does not pay fees to its commencement speakers……
The liberal arts school of about 1,350 students has attracted other big-name graduation speakers in the past.
Last June, comedian Stephen Colbert gave the commencement address to the school’s 250 graduates. And in 2005, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, now a Democratic presidential hopeful, spoke at the ceremony.
Knox alumnus John Podesta, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff, has helped line up the college’s past speakers including Obama and Colbert.
Read the Bloomington Pantagraph.
Read the transcript on WQAD TV-8.
Read the transcript on WJBC 1230-AM.
Willabell Williams knew she wanted to be a teacher by the time she was 6 years old.
The oldest of nine children, Williams mentored her younger siblings as a child - then went on to touch hundreds of lives as director of the Carver Center and a longtime teacher at Churchill Junior High, Lombard Middle School and Galesburg High School.
Now 86, Williams has been retired for 20 years but vividly recalls living in Galesburg for more than eight decades and remains interested in politics, education and race relations.
“I still think young, so I stay young,” Williams said.
She moved to Galesburg with her family at age 4 and graduated from Galesburg High School in 1939. She attended Brown’s Business College and worked as a housekeeper and secretary before working at the Carver Center, attending Knox College and becoming a history and civics teacher. She also served six years as a school board member for District 205.
After graduating from Knox, Williams turned down an office job at the college because she felt destined to be in the classroom.
“I didn’t want to work with papers. I wanted to work with kids,” she said.
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It’s not Clinton’s first commencement address this spring, or his last.
He and former President Bush spoke at the University of New Hampshire’s graduation last weekend. Clinton addressed University of Michigan graduates last month, and will speak at Knox College, Ohio State University and the Harvard Class Day.
Read the full transcript on WCAX, TV-3 News.
Read the State Journal-Register (May 30, 2007).
Read the Chicago Defender (May 30, 2007).
This marks the third year in a row Knox has managed to land a high-profile commencement speaker. In 2005, Sen. Barack Obama, himself now a candidate for the presidency, delivered the commencement address, while last year Comedy Central’s political satirist Stephen Colbert was the man of the hour.
Heartlein said the crowds have steadily increased. The college has estimates of attendance for 2005 and 2006, because tickets were not needed.
“It has averaged in the past around 4,000,” Heartlein said of commencement attendance. “Of course, last year we might have gotten close to 4,500, but that is kind of a guess.”
Heartlein said about 4,500 tickets were issued to students, family, faculty, staff and trustees this year. Everyone with tickets will have a chair.
“But after that it’s all guesswork,” she said of the possible crowd size.
“We actually had to increase the size of the platform,” she said. “A good number of our faculty (typically) leave just shortly after their grades are turned in for summer trips, for research, many go to conferences; their summers are packed.”
Many of those faculty members and trustees will attend this year’s commencement.
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