From Whitehouse to White House

Martin H. Nesbitt, '85, delivers the Opening Convocation address.

  Martin H. Nesbitt, ’85, delivers the Opening Convocation address.


After spending years as a campaign advisor for Barack Obama, Martin H. Nesbitt, ’85, knew who to contact when he needed a little advice of his own.

“(President Obama gave me three pieces of advice). One, say something funny; two, say something inspirational, and most importantly, it’s not about you,” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt delivered the 2009 William K. Stoffer Lecture at Albion’s Opening Convocation. Nesbitt’s speech, entitled, “Leveraging Your Values,” encouraged students to set incrementally achievable objectives and hold high ideals in life.
“I really enjoyed his message about not discarding people on sight,” said Chris Scott, Grosse Pointe Woods first-year. “It’s important to look past that and think about what that person has to offer.”

In his speech, Nesbitt discussed his time at Albion College, his personal background and his experience working with Barack Obama since Obama’s failed congressional bid in 2002.

“It is wonderful to highlight one of our alums,” said Donna Randall, Albion College president. “The college tries to find a speaker who will appeal to both the college and the community.”
Nesbitt stressed that everything students need to achieve their goals can be found within oneself and on Albion’s campus. He listed specific examples from his childhood growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio to emphasize that one’s background does not limit their potential.
“Overall it was a great speech,” said Mike VanHouten, associate director of the Stockwell-Mudd Library. “It really goes to show that our students here at Albion have the opportunity to achieve whatever they want.”

Prior to his address, Nesbitt was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Daniel Christiansen, professor of economics and management. Richard L. Baird, ’78, also received an honorary doctorate.

Albion residents since 1963, Leon and Lois White thought that the speech painted the college in a positive view and appealed to students.

“Anyone from Albion came away feeling good about the institution,” Leon White said.

Following Obama’s presidential campaign, Nesbitt returned to his job as president of The Parking Spot, a company that operates off-airport parking facilities in ten cities, and continues to advise President Obama to this day.


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