By Steve Kloehn

After a long campaign that put the University and Hyde Park in the national spotlight, members of the campus community are focusing intently on Tuesday’s landmark presidential election.

The contest has engaged campus supporters for both candidates, from high-level campaign advisors among the University’s faculty to students awaiting their first chance to weigh in on the nation’s top executive.

Pre-Election Day Events

And as the voting draws near, election talk is taking hold from dorm rooms to the University’s Center in Paris, from chalked sidewalk messages to a series of standing-room-only panel discussions.

On Thursday a large crowd joined scholars from Chicago and elsewhere, at the International House to discuss how a race without White House incumbents has gathered the most diverse set of candidates yet.

“On the Democratic side, the last four candidates standing were a Latino, a woman, a Southern advocate for the poor, and an African American. The Republicans put up a moderate, a Catholic, a Southern evangelical with liberal economic views, and a Mormon,” said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Professor of Political Science and African American studies at Princeton University. “This entire election has been about crossing our usual political borders.”

The next day, the University’s Center in Paris brought together more than 250 people to hear Social Sciences Dean John Mark Hansen and European scholars make their predictions for an American contest that has captured attention abroad like few others.

And on Monday, one of C-SPAN’s roving production studio buses rolled up behind the Reynolds Club to sample opinion and analysis on campus.

Michael Dawson, the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science, told C-SPAN that if Barack Obama were elected president, racial tensions would not end, but American race relations would improve. “Such an outcome would instill a spirit of hope and optimism among African Americans that they have not seen for a very long time probably not since the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s,” he said.

Post-Election Events and Discussions

The election may end the campaign, but it will launch a new round of analysis and discussion on campus. John Mark Hansen, Dean of Social Sciences, will talk about the results Wednesday at the Divinity School’s weekly community luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Email for reservations; the cost of the lunch is $5, $4 for students with ID.

Other events are in the planning stages, including a live town hall-style meeting on Wednesday examining the impact of the new president on Middle Eastern policy. The Harris School of Public Policy Studies will host the event, in association with the the U.S. Consulate in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. The meeting will feature University faculty linked by satellite with civic, business, and government leaders in Jedda.

Share Your Election Photos

If you have any election-related photos you want to share, the University of Chicago News Office is putting together a Flickr gallery. Email your photos or links to Mike Drapa if you want your images to be included.

As details of that event and others are available, they will be posted to this page, along with coverage of election-related events. If you know of an election-related event on campus that should be included, please email Steve Kloehn.