Obama Touts Higher Education at Campus Appearance
Flashing a “Hook ‘Em” hand sign and touting the importance of higher education, President Barack Obama spoke to hundreds of students, faculty and guests at Gregory Gymnasium on Aug. 9.
The receptive — sometimes raucous — crowd included local and state officeholders, both Democrats and Republicans.
Obama reminisced about his first trip to the Forty Acres during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“I toured the stadium with Mack Brown. Got a photo with the Heisman. Even rubbed the locker room’s longhorns for good luck,” he said.
Then he turned to more serious matters, including his goal of producing 8 million more college graduates by 2020 so the United States can again have a higher share of graduates than any other nation and become more globally competitive.
“We have been slipping,” he said. “In a single generation we have fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates. That is unacceptable, but not irreversible.”
Obama said the solution includes making college more affordable, overhauling the Federal Student Loan program and streamlining student loan repayment. Education, he said, leads to opportunity.
“And that recognition — that here, in this country, education and opportunity go hand in hand — is what led the first President of the University of Texas to say, as he dedicated the cornerstone of the original Main Building: ‘Smite the rocks with the rod of knowledge, and fountains of unstinted wealth will gush forth.’
“That’s the promise at the heart of UT-Austin, at the heart of our colleges and universities, and at the heart of our country.”