President Barack Obama will make his first visit to Northeastern Pennsylvania since being elected to his second term in 2012.
The president is scheduled to make a speech at Lackawanna College in Scranton on Friday, according to college spokeswoman Wendy Evans. Evans said the school has not been given a time for the event or a precise location, but the choices appear to be the school’s theater on Vine Street or the student center inside the former Scranton CYC building on Jefferson Avenue.
Lackawanna College President Mark Volk sent an email out to all college staff members Friday alerting them of the president’s visit. “As we begin a new year at Lackawanna College, I can think of no better visitor than the President of the United States. This will be a very busy … very happy start to the new school year,” he wrote.
The stop is part of a two-day bus trek through New York and Pennsylvania during which the president will discuss his plan to help the middle class and curb higher education costs.
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the president at his appearance in the city, according to Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and a White House official.
On Thursday, Obama will deliver remarks at the University at Buffalo and Henninger High School in Syracuse, N.Y. On Friday, the president will participate in a town hall event at Binghamton University and will deliver remarks at an event at Lackawanna College.
At each stop, the president will “discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve a quality education by reducing cost and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” according to an email sent to congressional offices by the White House and obtained by The Times Leader.
The tour extends Obama’s recent effort to refocus on economic issues ahead of looming fiscal fights with Congress. In appearances at other cities, he has discussed infrastructure and housing.
Obama has said he’s planning an aggressive strategy on education costs so Americans can get training needed for the rapidly changing economy. A first step came last week when Obama signed a bipartisan bill to restore lower student loan interest rates.
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, has a scheduling conflict and will not be at the event, but he said he supports the president’s message. “I am committed making every effort to guarantee that students will be able to attend a school of their choosing by protecting federal grants and working to keep the cost of student loans low,” Cartwright said.
The last time Obama visited the region was during the 2012 campaign when he spoke at Scranton High School. Before that, he hadn’t visited since the contested 2008 primary election campaign when he and Hillary Clinton both made frequent stops in the area.
Obama visited Schott Glass in Duryea, then made a pit stop at the Avenue Diner in Wyoming during one visit. He also spoke at the Society of Irish Women’s dinner at the Radisson Hotel in Scranton, Wilkes University and the Dunmore Community Center Gymnasium.
The visit to Scranton has led to an alteration of the college’s schedule.
Orientation that had been set for Friday has been moved to the following Monday, “to give the college community maximum opportunity to participate in the presidential event,” Volk said. That pushes Monday daytime classes at the Scranton campus to Tuesday. Monday’s evening classes will still take place.