CORVALLIS, Ore. (KMTR) - Oregon State University is awaiting the final bill to pay for first lady Michelle Obama's appearance.
Yet, the total amount they're obligated to pay may surprise some people.
It's been a minor controversy, according to some, as to whether Oregon State went over the top or if the graduating class of 2012 deserved a speaker with as much prominence. With her big brother looking on, Michelle Obama gave a personalized commencement speech to thousands of graduating Beavers, focusing on accomplishment and the future of the overall work force.
"It was all about the message of how students at Oregon State and other young people can - across the nation - shape their future and the future of the nation," explained OSU Vice President of Marketing Steve Clark. "She talked about doing what they are inspired to do, what they are compelled to do, versus doing something someone else wants them to do and also not necessarily to worry about the paycheck."
With the largest graduating class ever standing inside Reser Stadium Sunday, Michelle Obama also received an honorary doctorate for her work to fight child obesity. Among the massive crowd looking on, parents and citizens of the community have wondered what it took to get her to come to Corvallis.
"We did not pay for the first lady to come speak at Oregon State University. The secret service provided her protection at their cost, the airport style security was run by the secret service at their expense," said Clark. "Last year we were probably in the order of about $100,000 dollars, this year we might be $25,000 over that."
Most of that money was in fan keepsakes, additional jumbo screens for the stadium and security provided by Oregon State Police, Corvallis Police and the Benton County Sheriff's Office. For local agencies providing standby security, Clark estimated having to pay them about $3,000 dollars total. Yet, Clark said, it is important to remember some of the money paid out would have been necessary anyways since it was a larger graduating class.
So was it worth it? Clark says absolutely.
"This university, the state of Oregon, we had headlines in the Washington Post, the London Times, the Houston Chronicle," he said.
He also named others around the world, even in Canada.
"we don't get that every day, the state of Oregon doesn't get that everyday," he added.
Overall, Clark told NewsSource 16 that everything over the weekend ran smooth. The only change they would have made - if possible - would be the weather.
"We would have asked the wind to blow ten miles an hour less," he laughed.
Oregon State University is already planning for their 2013 speaker but Clark said they realize it will be tough to top Mrs. Obama.
Mrs. Obama left to go home on Tuesday.