Photos: Local Faces in Obama’s UM Crowd

Ann Arbor community joins student throng at president's speech

When the president of the United States comes to town to give a major speech on college affordability, it’s not something we’d want to miss.

Barack Obama

U.S. president Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Michigan’s Al Glick Fieldhouse on Friday morning, Jan. 27. His remarks focused on the issue of education and college affordability. (Photos by Mary Morgan.)

Also not wanting to miss Barack Obama’s appearance at the University of Michigan – a return visit after delivering the commencement address in May of 2010 – were dozens of other national, state and local media. Attention is heightened even more during this election year, and Friday morning’s speech was just one of many stops as Obama hit the road following Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

There will be countless reports and opinions offered on the Jan. 27 speech at UM, but we’d encourage you to approach it unfiltered, at least initially. You can watch the roughly 40-minute speech in its entirety online, or read a transcript of it here.

For Obama’s remarks almost two years ago at the 2010 UM commencement, we provided a bit of our own analysis, along with photos by Myra Klarman.

This time, we went with an eye for recording the community connections we could see at the event. And there were many – not surprisingly for a Democratic stronghold like Ann Arbor. Politicians were easy to spot, of course, but there were also educators, business owners, government workers and many others.

Over 3,000 people attended Friday morning’s speech. Here are a few of those we encountered there.

Eugene Kang, Jeff Irwin, Rebekah Warren, Conan Smith

Eugene Kang, left, lost a close race for a spot on the Ann Arbor city council several years ago – and now has to content himself as the president’s special projects coordinator and assistant. State Rep. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor, top left, had worked on Kang’s council campaign. In the foreground is state Sen. Rebekah Warren and her husband Conan Smith, chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners.

Susan Pollay

Susan Pollay, director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Deborah Ball, Brit Satchwell

Deborah Ball, dean of UM’s School of Education, gets camera instructions from Brit Satchwell, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, before the president’s speech. Satchwell is standing with Tracey Van Dusen, a Pioneer High School government teacher who was a 2010 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the U. S. Department of Education.

Yousef Rabhi, Andy LaBarre

Washtenaw County commissioner Yousef Rabhi (in light blue cap and scarf, with beard) and Andy LaBarre (back right), a candidate for commissioner and former aide to Congressman John Dingell.

Steve Powers

Ann Arbor city administrator Steve Powers had a height advantage over some of the other spectators at the Jan. 27 event.

Jim Kosteva

Jim Kosteva, UM’s director of community relations, glides down the risers.

Jason Brooks

Jason Brooks, a management analyst in the Washtenaw County administrator’s office and a 2011 Ann Arbor Chronicle Bezonki Award winner, got a prime spot next to the stage. 

Man reading the Detroit News

Many people in the crowd were taking photos and texting on their iPhones or other mobile devices and sending the information to the Internet in realtime. But one man passed the minutes waiting for the president by reading an account of the previous day’s news printed off on multiple sheets of paper – a so-called “news paper.”

Media scrum with Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, leaning over in the center of the huddle, prompted a brief media scrum before the start of Obama’s speech.

Media and crowd

Media photographers stood on risers for a clear view of the speaker’s podium. Photographers in the crowd had to rely on other techniques to get their shots.

Jo Mathis

Jo Mathis, left, takes a “Hail Mary” shot. The former Ann Arbor News columnist is now editor of the Washtenaw Legal News.

Denard Robinson, Debbie Stabenow

University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson poses for a photo with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The crowd’s cheer for Robinson, who arrived several minutes before the president, nearly rivaled its enthusiasm for Obama. Robinson fielded dozens of autograph and photo requests, including one from a member of the event’s security detail.

Steve Kunselman

Ann Arbor city councilmember Stephen Kunselman, who’s employed by UM as an energy management liaison.

Councilmembers in the crowd

Among the spectators in this crowd shot are Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent Patricia Green and AAPS trustee Andy Thomas, and Ann Arbor city councilmembers Christopher Taylor, Tony Derezinski and Carsten Hohnke.

Kathy White, Denise Ilitch

From left: University of Michigan regents Kathy White and Denise Ilitch, chair of the board of regents.

Susan Martin, Rose Bellanca

From left: Eastern Michigan University president Susan Martin and Rose Bellanca, president of Washtenaw Community College.

Barack Obama and crowd

Barack Obama during his speech. Trust us: Among the people in the background risers are Ann Arbor city councilmember Sabra Briere and her husband, local attorney David Cahill; Democratic activist Doug Kelley; Ann Arbor Art Center president Marsha Chamberlin and her husband John Chamberlin, a UM professor of public policy.

Mary Sue Coleman

UM president Mary Sue Coleman, at right, listened to Obama’s speech on a platform behind the speaker’s podium. She did not address the crowd.

Obama gives a high five to Mark Bernstein's child

After his speech, Barack Obama worked the crowd. He offers a high five to Mark Bernstein’s kid – Bernstein is a candidate for UM regent.

Sandi Smith, Glenn Nelson

Ann Arbor city councilmember Sandi Smith, center, gets ready to greet the president. Behind her, slightly to the right, is Ann Arbor Public Schools trustee Glenn Nelson.

Anti-fracking and Right-to-Life protesters

Following Obama’s speech, anti-fracking protesters were keeping a cold vigil in the parking lot outside of the Al Glick Fieldhouse. To the right, a man holds an “I Vote Pro-Life First” sign. Volunteers were also passing out Obama re-election campaign literature and collecting signatures for repeal of the state’s emergency financial manager law.

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  1. January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm | permalink

    I’m glad the sun came out for everyone.

  2. By Jeff Gaynor
    January 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm | permalink

    Great pics. But especially charming was the explanation about the “news paper.” I’ve heard tell.

  3. By Leslie Bolgos
    January 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm | permalink

    Thanks for the great photographs! Pictures do speak volumes, yes?

  4. By Mitch
    January 28, 2012 at 7:56 am | permalink

    What is fracking?

  5. By Caroline B Smith
    January 28, 2012 at 11:20 am | permalink

    I didn’t see anyone in your photos among those in the photos of people standing in line for tickets on Wednesday night. Hmmm. How did the rest of us miss out?

  6. By abc
    January 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm | permalink

    Fracking is a controversial method for getting pockets of natural gas out of rock layers by injecting water and chemicals into the rocks. Some of the controversy includes contamination of groundwater (wells and aquifers) from the chemicals as well as the gas. There are videos out there of people being able to light their faucets on fire after fracking.

  7. January 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm | permalink

    It’s nice that you spotted Sabra and me on the back row of the risers. She always did stand out in a crowd. 8-)

  8. By c.b.
    January 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm | permalink

    Once again a picture tells a thousand words of the have and have nots-those that waited in line for tickets and those who got tickets because of who they are.