GROVE CITY, Pa. (WYTV) – Over 600 students at Grove City College are set to graduate this Saturday — the most in school history. And their commencement speaker? He’s visiting from the nation’s capital.
Vice President Mike Pence will be the highest-ranking official to ever speak at the college.
Even though his speech is still three days away, the small Mercer County campus is setting up for one of the most powerful people in American politics.
As cars lined Campus Drive on Wednesday for students moving out, barricades were moving in around the quad where Pence will speak.
“It’s an honor for us to be able to host him here and we’re going to make a great memory for our students and their families,” said Grove City President Paul McNulty.
The private, Christian liberal arts college of about 2,500 students expects 5,000 to 6,000 people for Pence’s address.
This isn’t the first time a big name in politics has spoken at Grove City College’s graduation.
Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, delivered last spring’s commencement address. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke in 2014 and former first lady Laura Bush spoke in 2011.
McNulty said he’s always looking for someone who has something valuable to the students.
“We’re very intentional here on this campus to communicate a set of values, appreciate what America is all about, leave here and be great citizens,” McNulty said. “We’re looking for great citizens to talk about their lives.”
But finding that person each year isn’t easy.
“Sometimes it’s a question of availability. I know that now in my third year, it’s one of my tougher jobs,” McNulty said.
With all political figures comes protests, and this will be no different. A group called the Slippery Rock Huddle estimates they’ll have around 300 people gathering on the sidewalks and across campus.
“We have absolutely no intention in disrupting graduation. We know this is a special day in the life of Grove City College graduates and their families,” Sharon Sykora said.
McNulty said he is confident the weekend will run smoothly with no disruptions, even as protesters express their ideas.