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Ohio Wesleyan to Celebrate Civic Participation at Heritage Day Event

November 3, 2009

Ohio Wesleyan students got into the spirit of a real Presidential Convention during the 1988 Mock Presidential Convention in Gray Chapel.
Photo courtesy of the Ohio Wesleyan Historical Collection Photo Archives.
DELAWARE, OH – In 1884, Ohio Wesleyan University students held their first mock presidential nominating convention to select candidates to run for president and vice president of the United States. The university will commemorate this 125-year legacy of civic participation during its annual Heritage Day event, “The Mock Presidential Convention: Celebrating Civic Participation at OWU.”

The community wide celebration will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 in Gray Chapel inside University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St. The event is free and open to the public.

During Ohio Wesleyan’s mock presidential conventions, students duplicate the activities and atmosphere of a political party nominating convention, complete with nominating speeches, party platform debates, and roll-call votes by state delegations.

Alumni and faculty will provide colorful tales of this Ohio Wesleyan tradition, and the OWtsiders, an a cappella student group, will perform campaign songs from past elections.

“This event should bring out the best in our students by creating an atmosphere that blends the energy of a mock convention with an activity that honors this historic tradition on campus,” said Nancy Bihl Rutkowski, a member of the Heritage Day planning committee.

Fun facts about Ohio Wesleyan’s past mock conventions include:

  • The first African-American placed into the nomination pool for president was Republican Blanche Kelso Bruce in 1884.
  • The first woman placed into the nomination for president was Republican Ruth Hanna McCormick in 1928.
  • In 1984, the Mock Convention nominated Democrats Walter Mondale for president and Geraldine Ferraro for vice president, marking the only year Ohio Wesleyan students chose the same candidates as the actual nominating convention.

The Heritage Day celebration is sponsored by the OWU Student Involvement Office, the Heritage Day Committee, and the Politics and Government Department. Heritage Day is held each year on or around Nov. 13, the first day of classes when Ohio Wesleyan University opened its doors. Each year, an event, building, or theme of historic interest is highlighted during the celebration.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 45 states and 57 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.