On the silver screen, he was a college football hero and a cheerleader. He played cadets at two different military academies. He appeared as a zoology professor in the Hollywood classic “Bedtime for Bonzo.” But now America’s only movie-star-turned-president may have another dramatic role in higher education: as the namesake and inspiration for Ronald Reagan University.
Backers of the ambitious plan to build a private university outside Denver that would focus on the former president’s economic and diplomatic principles asked the Colorado legislature this week to endorse the idea. With a 200-acre campus site donated by a prominent Colorado Republican, the plans call for construction to begin next year and a student body of 10,000 to be in classes before the end of the decade.
“We have worked with an architect, and we think we’re looking at an $850 million construction budget,” said Terry Walker, a former professor and administrator at the University of Louisiana who is serving as founding president of the proposed school. “We are planning for a full-scale university, with a law school, business school and a graduate school of foreign affairs and public policy. We also want a performing arts school, to reflect the president’s long movie career.”
Well, goodness knows we suffer from a lack of universities and, especially, law schools, people trained in the humanities, and performance artists. And, of course, when I think of Denver, “Ronald Reagan” is the first thing that comes to mind.