During its 175-year history, the University has hosted a number of famous visitors from politicians to musicians to artists
On Feb. 10, 1939, the “champagne” sounds of up-and-coming bandleader Lawrence Welk filled the Florentine Room of Cincinnati’s Hotel Gibson—the site of the junior prom. Between 200 and 250 couples attended, but the audience was actually much larger: At 1:00 a.m., radio station WCKY broadcast the dance over its airwaves. It was wonderful, wonderful.
Peter, Paul and Mary
The University played host to the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary on Oct. 2, 1963, giving them a sold-out audience of students and adults from throughout Greater Cincinnati. The popular trio began the concert with some of their more famous tunes and, after a brief intermission, performed individual routines, including an impersonation of a ladies’ tea party by Paul Stookey. Several encores ensued.
Vice president Hubert H. Humphrey spoke at Schmidt Fieldhouse on Sept. 28, 1967, during a visit to Cincinnati. The vice president traveled to the city to address the Ohio Catholic Education Convention in the new downtown Convention Center, but stopped by Xavier at the request of the student council and the Xavier Young Democrats club to talk about college students and their interests.
There’s no doubt that the two performances of The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Schmidt Fieldhouse on March 28, 1968, introduced a different sound to the University concert scene. “The Hendrix shows promise to rival the traditional Muskie drink ’n drowns for psychedelic happenings and new vibrations,” predicted one writer from The Xavier Newswire.
Before artist Andy Warhol set foot on campus on April 3, 1968, controversy was already brewing due to an on-campus viewing of his film, “My Hustler.” “In some frank and revealing scenes, Warhol’s camera viewed the world of the homosexual, with no editing and without the fetters of the censor,” reported The Xavier Newswire. “The result was for most of the viewers nothing short of shocking.” Warhol arrived to find an administrative ban on the excerpt he was showing from his new epic. After a student protest, the ban was lifted and the film shown.
President Bill Clinton’s three-hour appearance on March 23, 1996, marked the University’s first visit by an incumbent president. Clinton gave a 39-minute speech on corporate responsibility followed by a roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator John Glenn, Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper, Xavier academic advisor Sister Rose Ann Fleming and members of the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. Despite some controversial response to his visit, it nevertheless sparked political debates around campus and attracted national media attention.
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus and leader of the Roman Catholic Church’s largest religious order, spent two days in Cincinnati in May 1996 during a tour of the society’s Chicago province. Kolvenbach, who lives in Rome and oversees more than 20,000 Jesuits worldwide, spent three hours on campus as part of his first visit to Cincinnati.
“Whether people want to admit it or not, we’re still trying to get the shackles off,” said African-American filmmaker Spike Lee to a crowd of more than 1,200 people gathered at the Schmidt Fieldhouse on Feb. 4, 2000. During his hour-long appearance, Lee talked about his early struggles as a filmmaker and issues that African Americans still encounter. Although his appearance elicited a mixed response, it led to a number of on-campus discussions.
A 60-year-old—and still impressive—Bob Dylan took the stage at the Cintas Center on Nov. 4, 2001, where he treated 7,500 fans to 21 songs, including favorites such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and tunes from his new album, “Love and Theft.” The two-hour show didn’t satisfy the howling crowd, who finally received two encores before the lights came up signaling Dylan had left the building.
Anthropologist Jane Goodall quickly captured the attention of the 3,000 gathered at the Cintas Center on Oct. 9, 2003, with a high-pitched chimpanzee call. For the past 45 years, Goodall has spent her life studying wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, Africa, and visited the Queen City to promote her Omnimax film, Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees. “It gives me greater reason for hope that more people are getting involved,” she said. “I’m trying to grow a family of caring people. Every one of us makes a difference every day.”