The Student Government Association (SGA) has canceled its State of the Union Town Hall on Friday, Feb. 10 after the scheduled speaker Shaun Donovan, the U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, became unable to attend.
SGA President and College senior Adam McCall, who spearheaded planning efforts for the event, explained that the White House Office of Public Engagement informed him at around 12 p.m. on Thursday that Donovan could no longer speak at the event.
At the Town Hall, Donovan had planned to discuss student-related government issues regarding economic development, the housing market and other subjects that Obama discussed during his State of the Union address. He had additionally planned on taking questions from the audience.
According to McCall, the Office of Public Engagement, which coordinates travel arrangements for cabinet members, explained that Donovan was required to stay in Washington, D.C. to work on a new housing settlement, which was announced Thursday.
The $26 billion agreement between government officials and five banks — including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally Financial — aims to provide homeowner relief.
McCall said that SGA originally scheduled Donovan to speak after McCall contacted the Office of Public Engagement, indicating that SGA was interested in hosting a cabinet secretary, particularly one “involved in student concerns, especially the economy and education.”
“We thought it would be interesting for students to get to interface with a cabinet member,” McCall said. “The White House was very helpful. They informed us that Secretary Donovan was scheduled to be in Atlanta this Friday and wanted to speak with students.”
McCall, who said he understood Donovan’s conflict, explained that he is unsure of whether SGA will reschedule the Town Hall event to a later date.
Donovan was sworn in as 15th U.S. secretary for housing and urban development in January 2009.
Donovan has focused on housing in the country throughout his career, previously serving as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) commissioner during the transition period between former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s term and George Bush’s presidential term.
— Contact Stephanie Fang