Monday, August 10, 2009

The British are coming! (We hope)

Regular readers of this blog -- we know you are out there -- know that our Homecoming takes place this year on Sept. 26, just after the G-20 Summit (rechristened The Pittsburgh Summit) wraps up in downtown Pittsburgh.

In the spirit of good transatlantic relations, we decided to invite the British delegation to come partake in our Homecoming celebration, as a way of burying the hatchet over that whole Revolutionary War business. Here is the text of the letter that RMU President Greg Dell'Omo sent to the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

Dear Ambassador Sheinwald:

As the president of a Pittsburgh university named for the man who financed George Washington’s army, I am proud of the historical heritage of Robert Morris University. While Morris is not as widely known as other Founding Fathers, the “Financier of the Revolution” loaned the colonial forces money from his own accounts and ordered his company's ships to operate as privateers, attacking British vessels and seizing their cargo.

All’s fair in love and war, as they say. Yet today, as Pittsburgh prepares to welcome the world’s leaders for the G-20 summit, I recall the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom. Former foes are now partners. Our university maintains a student exchange program with the University of Birmingham, we have British students and faculty, and we are extremely proud that this fall, alumnus Michael Wahl will become the first RMU graduate to attend the University of Oxford, where he plans to pursue a doctorate in social anthropology.

So how to make amends for the past? While it will not be possible for us to return the cargo Morris’s privateers took, I would like to offer something almost as valuable. The day after the summit, on Saturday, September 26, we will hold our annual “Homecoming” ceremonies for alumni, culminating in the crowning of a king and queen (an idea we borrowed from the “Mother Country”) and a game of RMU Colonials football (our kind, not your kind) at high noon.

I would like to invite your delegation to be my personal guests that day, including seats in my private presidential reviewing stand, an American lunch, and, if you are willing, a formal handshake at midfield to convey our mutual admiration and respect.

Robert Morris University is very close to the Pittsburgh airport, so this may be a fun way for your officials to wrap up the visit before departing. We would be glad to make all transportation arrangements for your group’s visit, on Homecoming or on another day. If your schedule is too full, we would be pleased to meet you at your convenience to share ideas about how Robert Morris University can strengthen its commitment to giving its students a global perspective.

I wish you a pleasant and productive visit to Pittsburgh, and sincerely hope to have a chance to welcome you to RMU.


Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.
President, Robert Morris University

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