Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 6:53:29 PM

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Local Officials thrilled to have President in town

(Source: Jeremy Donovan)

VESTAL -- President Obama's historic visit to Binghamton University was the most informal of his two day trip through New York and Pennsylvania.  While many students and staff members were delighted by a chance to interact with the President, it was also a thrill for local officials.

"It was great to host him, it was great to shake his hand, and watch his personality and intelligence to shine through, it was great," said BU President Harvey Stenger.

"I am very pleased that he was here at Binghamton because we are so proud of this university, we know it as one of the best in the country and maybe in the world," said Senator Tom Libous, (R), 52nd District.

When details of the event were first released, there was early criticism of the small size of the event and the limited number of tickets.

"It was important to keep it small and it was wonderful to see him interact with the students this way, I'm delighted to have been here to see it," said Donna Lupardo, (D) NYS Assembly, 123rd District.

The President outlined his three point plan to reform higher education.

"They weren't quick fixes, they were carefully understood answers of how to solve an extraordinarily hard problem right now, and it also showed the answers aren't done yet, we need to keep working," Stenger said.

"Higher education really shouldn't be viewed as a luxury, it really is a necessity for every type of job moving ahead," Lupardo said.

Libous said he is in favor of the President's plan to help lower the amount of debt graduating students have, which he says can be as high as half a million dollars.

"That's ridiculous, you can't start a life that way, and I think if some of his programs and proposals can go through, that would be fabulous," he said.

While Libous admits he does not see eye to eye with the President on several issues, he says making higher education more affordable and accessible is a bipartisan issue.

"How can you fight, or argue, or disagree on what value you can bring to our young people through a place like Binghamton University," Libous said.

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