90 The History of Wake Forest
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company; Wachovia
Bank and Trust Company; Sarah Lee Cor-
poration; Shelco, Inc.; Flow Motors; and the
Winston-Salem Foundation were among the
largest contributors.
Sandra Connor, Director of Public Infor-
mation, was coordinator of debate prepara-
tions. She and her staff worked long and hard
to see that necessary changes to Wait Chapel
were made, such as having it recarpeted and
having a new heating and air conditioning
system installed. Every day, orders from Com-
mission or production staff came, and many
were changed from what had been conveyed
previously. Connor’s team was highly flexible
as well as extremely dedicated. It recruited a
volunteer brigade to engage students, faculty,
and staff in communications with key indi-
viduals involved in the debate and to quickly
accommodate minute-to-minute changes. About 600 students were able to work
with Commission staff, national news media, and campus administration.
For example, two days before the debate, “the Pit,” the main dining hall in Reyn-
olda Hall, had to be transformed into a media filing center for 2,000 national press
writers and technicians. Thus Connor and her team worked with Student Life staff
to deliver “breakfast in bed” to students in the residence halls and sponsored picnics
on the Quad. Meanwhile, the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company located free beer and
cigarettes for reporters and technicians in the usual site of the salad bar, and whether
accidentally or deliberately, Leslie Stahl and the CBS news team commandeered this
area for interviews and a post-debate report.
Anchor booths for each of the major networks
were set up in the Wait Chapel balcony, and the
Connor team arranged closed-circuit television
broadcast in Brendle Recital Hall and other loca-
tions so that students could view the deliberations.
The Commission initially distributed only fifty
tickets to Wake Forest for the event: thirteen for
undergraduates, nine for graduate and professional
school students, ten for faculty, four for staff, and
three for the student organizers of the event. The
rest went to members of the two political parties
involved. During fall registration, students, faculty,
and staff signed up to win nontransferable tickets
to attend, and on that night, the lucky recipients
came early to claim their seats. However, at 6:30
p.m. in front of Reynolda Hall, a Commission staff
member began passing out unclaimed press passes.
One of the Presidential Debate T-shirts
of 1988
Sandra Connor
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