UC Merced gears up for Michelle Obama's commencement address

Preparations for the University of California at Merced's 2009 graduation are in overdrive, with about a month before first lady Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address to the university's inaugural class.

"We're working on programs, we're working on location, finding enough chairs, events before the graduation, after the graduation, all the details," said Jane Lawrence, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Interest in the ceremony has grown so staggeringly that a phone number listed on the UC Merced Web site for student tickets had to be rerouted from the chancellor's office to the main switchboard.

For the first time, UC Merced is printing tickets for the event, 9,000 of them.

Campus organizers originally were expecting about 2,000 spectators this year.

"Four years ago, we graduated three people," Lawrence said. "This year we are graduating 500. Then, as you probably have heard, we have a keynote speaker that has attracted a little bit of attention."

All that attention has caused a bit of a headache for some of the graduating students.

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