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Presidential Visits

September 24, 1911


taft 2

Image: President William H. Taft

President Barack Obama visited the University of Kansas on Thursday, January 22, 2015. His talk focused on the middle class economics such as the cost of attending college, student loans, health insurance and the minimum wage.

The visit brought with it a lot of questions about visits by sitting U.S. presidents to the KU campus.

President Obama was the first sitting president to visit KU since William Howard Taft (left) visited Lawrence on September 24, 1911. Taft spoke in old Robinson Gymnasium to a welcoming mass of people, then left for a short talk at the Haskell Institute, before departing for Baldwin City.

The first visit, according to the book “Across the Years on Mount Oread,” appears to have been made by Ulysess S. Grant in April 1873. As was the case with Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879, Grant visited the second building on the KU campus, University Hall, or Fraser Hall, as it was later named. This structure was considered the largest educational building in the United States at the time of its completion, so it was considered quite the attraction.

Known presidential visits include:

Presidents who visited KU While in Office
U.S. Grant – April 1873
Rutherford B. Hayes – September 27, 1879
William H. Taft – September 24, 1911
Barack Obama – January 22, 2015

Visited KU After Leaving Office
William Howard Taft (Supreme Court)
Harry Truman – April 1, 1960
Gerald Ford – February 19, 1978
Jimmy Carter  – 2003
Bill Clinton – 2004, 2015
George H.W. Bush – 2008

Visited KU Before Taking Office
Woodrow Wilson – 1912
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1920
John F. Kennedy – 1957
George H.W. Bush – 1976

Visited Lawrence, Kansas While in Office 
U.S. Grant – April 1873
Rutherford B. Hayes – September 27, 1879
Theodore Roosevelt – May 1, 1903
William H. Taft – September 24, 1911
Woodrow Wilson – 1916

Visited Lawrence After Leaving Office
Theodore Roosevelt – 1910
Theodore Roosevelt -September 21, 1912William Howard Taft (Supreme Court)
Harry Truman – April 1, 1960
Gerald Ford – February 19, 1978
Jimmy Carter  – 2003
Bill Clinton – 2004, 2014
George H.W. Bush – 2008

Do you have more information? Please share if you do, and try to provide your source. I will update this page as I receive additional information.

Source Notes

[Source Notes:
U.S. Grant at KU in 1873, Across the Years on Mount Oread, Robert Taft, pg. 20.;
Rutherford B. Hayes visit Sept. 27, 1879, Across the Years on Mount Oread, Robert Taft, pg. 20.;
T. Roosevelt in Lawrence, 1903, Lawrence Weekly, May 7, 1903.;
William Howard Taft in Lawrence, 1911,
Harry Truman in 1960, Lawrence Journal-World, April 1, 1960.;
Woodrow Wilson visit 1916, Brittany Keegan, Watkins Community Museum, 2013.;
Teddy Roosevelt visit 1904, Brittany Keegan, Watkins Community Museum, 2013.;
Teddy Roosevelt visit 1912, Lawrence Journal-World for September 23, 1912
John F. Kennedy in 1957, Lawrence Journal-World, May 22, 2004 and Jayhawker Yearbook.;
Gerald Ford – February 19, 1978, Spencer Research Library.
Bill Clinton in 2004, Lawrence Journal-World, May 22, 2004.;