Managing the Details
For Peg Pitzer, director of events management at Smith,
the Dalai Lama’s visit presents many logistical challenges. She has on her
desk a small printed photo of the Dalai Lama; stuck next to his image is a stack
of yellow sticky notes counting down the days until May 9. Pitzer is in daily e-mail
contact with the Office of Tibet in New York, and a representative from that office
will make multiple trips to Northampton to meet with the steering committee before
the event. U.S. State Department officials will participate in these visits as the
event date approaches.
Although the Dalai Lama visited Smith in 1984, he was
then not yet a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. His visit prompted some fanfare but little
of the extensive security that this spring’s event requires. Pitzer says the
Secret Service has been on campus before for high-profile speakers such as Barbara
Bush and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. College presidential inaugurations also require extensive
planning. But Pitzer lists aspects of the Dalai Lama’s visit that distinguish
it from others: 5,000 secure tickets, for example, and the fact that no cameras,
cell phones or other electronics will be allowed at the event.
Pitzer has sought advice from organizers at Salve Regina
University in Newport, Rhode Island, where the Dalai Lama spoke in November 2005.
They told her to expect people to camp out in the street hours before the event just
to see the motorcade pass by.