4 universities chosen for 2016 presidential, VP debates

Jim Suhr and Jim Salter Associated Press

St. Louis — Four universities were chosen Wednesday to host the 2016 presidential and vice presidential debates, including veteran host Washington University in St. Louis and, for the first time, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The sites — which also include Wright State University in Ohio and Longwood University in Virginia — were among 16 schools and cities that submitted bids in April to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates. The organization, which announced the selections, has sponsored the official presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.

“We look forward to working with these fine universities and their students and communities to bring these important civic events to the nation,” commission co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Mike McCurry said in a statement.

The first presidential debate in 2016 will be held Sept. 26 at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. Washington University will host the second debate on Oct. 9, while the University of Nevada will hold the Oct. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, will host the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4.

“For Longwood students, the chance to experience a debate on campus will be a part of their college experience they will never forget,” said Joan Neff, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the school.

Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, will be the backup site. Dominican University of California will lead an initiative using technology and social media to engage young voters in a discussion of major issues in the 2016 debates, the commission said.

A spokeswoman for the commission said formats for each debate have not yet been set.

Washington University has hosted more debates sponsored by the commission than any other institution. The school staged presidential debates in 1992, 2000 and 2004, and a vice presidential debate in 2008. It was picked for a 1996 debate but the event was canceled when the number of debates that year was cut to two from three.

Chancellor Mark Wrighton said a number of factors played in Washington University’s favor, including its central U.S. location and its track record in successfully carrying out debates. The debate will be in the field house, where seating can accommodate roughly 2,000 people.

“They quite obviously have confidence in us,” he told reporters during a brief announcement. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host again. The eyes of the world will be upon us.”

Wright State President David Hopkins called the selection “very gratifying and humbling.”

“This is a huge win for all of us,” he said.