Chancellor Lawrence A. Davis Jr. didn't initially extend an invitation to First Lady Michelle Obama to deliver the May 8, 2010, commencement address at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He asked her husband, President Barack Obama, first.

Chancellor Lawrence A. Davis Jr. didn’t initially extend an invitation to First Lady Michelle Obama to deliver the May 8, 2010, commencement address at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He asked her husband, President Barack Obama, first.

That letter, addressed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capital was sent on July 6, 2009. “If you think big, you must think in advance,” Davis recalled recently.

Copies of the letter were sent to Arkansas’ congressional delegation and “some friends” in Washington.

The letter summarized UAPB’s history and, as a reminder, included a CD of the university’s band performing in Obama’s inaugural parade.

The chancellor didn’t receive the answer he wanted. A second, identical letter was mailed Jan. 4, 2010, in the event the first had been misplaced. Davis made his contacts again.

The White House responded that a scheduling conflict would prohibit Obama from delivering the commencement address. However, the first lady could make the trip to Pine Bluff and deliver the address.

Davis said he didn’t hesitate before accepting the offer. “No one was mad at her,” he explained.

The Pine Bluff Convention Center was packed for the commence address. Davis’ smile that day was ample proof that if you dream big, sometimes the dreams come true.

•••

Related articles:

• Is there no balm in Gilead?’ revisited
• Davis a part of UAPB history
• Chancellor’s tree symbolizes growth
• Timeline of Chancellor Davis’ time at UAPB