Commentary: Does Michelle Obama's address justify UC Merced's expenses?

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.

We all tend to spruce up our place when special guests are coming. But we're not sure how wise it is to be spending $700,000 at the University of California at Merced for the commencement speech of first lady Michelle Obama.

The first lady has confirmed her appearance at UC Merced's May 16 ceremonies, and that has thrown the campus into a spending frenzy.

When the UC Merced students surprisingly landed Mrs. Obama with their Valentine card campaign, the commencement morphed from a small affair for the university's pioneer class with family and friends into an international media frenzy.

Now university administrators and professors, local and state elected officials and thousands more are seeking invitations for a chance to see the first lady up close. It's a very tough ticket to get, and this event will put the newest UC campus on high-profile display.

UC officials say some corporations are helping to pay for the extravaganza. AT&T, Educational Employees Credit Union and Kaiser Permanente are donating about $80,000. The university is looking for other sponsors to help with the cost.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.