Tennessee Tech University rolls out the red carpet Tuesday as host for the Highlands Debate 2010. Dignitaries and media representatives from throughout the state will be welcomed to campus. Among them, of course, will be Tennessee's future governor. Republican candidate Bill Haslam faces off with Democrat Mike Mcwherter for an hourlong debate beginning 7 pm. Officials say that for TTU, this is an historic happening because it is the first televised gubernatorial debate held outside a major metropolitan market. Traditionally, Tennessee major-party candidates for governor participate in three debates in the state's major media markets of Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.
"We're ready," said TTU President Bob Bell. "Hosting this debate at TTU is a major campuswide project involving nearly every administrative unit and several academic units, especially our Department of Music and Art. This effort reflects the true spirit of our entire TTU family. This debate also highlights the tremendous collaborative efforts of our city, our county, the Highlands and so many supporting organizations."
The Highlands Debate 2010 is part of the larger Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Celebration (http://www.tntech.edu/constitutionday/home/), now in its sixth year, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The day's activities include:
* Student engagement: An all-day showcase of student political engagement in the Tech Pride Room in Roaden University Center. Student organizations will register new voters, hand out literature and conduct a straw poll. To vote in the straw poll, just bring a can a food for the local food bank and place it in the box for the candidate of your choice.
* Political satire: Come to Derryberry Hall Auditorium at 5 p.m. for a presentation about the role of political satire in democracies. Presenter Danna Young, a specialist in the study of media, politics and public opinion, will discuss the impact of such programs as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
* Gubernatorial debate: Remain in Derryberry Hall Auditorium for a live feed of the 7 p.m. Highlands Debate 2010 originating from Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building on campus. The debate will be shown live on NewsChannel5 WTVF-TV and on CBS affiliates statewide. You're free to cheer (or jeer) the candidates and their answers inside Derryberry Auditorium.
* Dancin' on Dixie concert: Join the after-debate party at the corner of 12th Street and Dixie Avenue immediately following the debate. Free music, popcorn and drinks will be available. For more information, see the Constitution Day website.