ASU Prepares for Gen. Colin Powell Visit

April 13, 2006 – Posted at 4:30 p.m. CST

ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is spending his Thursday evening in Region 8 as a speaker at Arkansas State University. The visit is part of the Liberty Bank Distinguished Lecture Series where he'll be addressing a nearly sold out crowd at the Fowler Center.

General Powell spent 35 years in the Army, rising to the rank of four-star general. He also served as Secretary of State during George W. Bush's first term.

He's one of the biggest names to ever grace the campus of ASU, but it all comes with a price. Liberty Bank paid for his $100,000 speaking contract and also provided a private jet with a cost estimated at $18,000...a lot of money for a few hours of his time.

"He is in high demand," said Director of University Relations Markham Howe, "He had over 40 opportunities to speak in the month of April alone and he chose 12. We're among those 12."

ASU spent Thursday planning for security. Powell is scheduled to speak to students, meet with a dinner group and then give his presentation to a crowd of more than 800.

When President Clinton spoke at the University in 2003, the Secret Service made sure that the room he spoke in was secure, but there were no restrictions on recording his remarks. On Thursday night, Powell speaks, no one, not even the media, will be allowed to record his speech.

"You can take notes, but you cannot record," said Howe, "You can't use cell phone cameras, and you can't use cameras inside. We would love to make that available, but it's part of the contract. We just can't do that."

Powell autographed 100 copies of his book, "My American Journey" for the event and only plans to meet with the media for approximately five minutes. But for all the effort, the University thinks it's worth it.

"It will be a historic event for ASU," said Howe, "And for our students, it will be a historic event for them too."

Because of an alumni donation earlier this week, ASU students will be allowed to attend for free, but won't actually get to watch Powell's presentation in person. They'll be in another room viewing on closed circuit television. To have a seat in the audience when Powell speaks will set you back $50 a pop.