Ted Kennedy endorses Barack Obama for president in a January rally at American University.

As the nation celebrates Senator Ted Kennedy's career and accomplishments, here at American University, Kennedy's influence is tangible and widely felt. In January 2008, when Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for president in a rally on campus, it was a major turning point in the race for the Democratic nomination.

With Obama now in the White House, young people across the country and the world increasingly look to Washington, DC as a place to pursue careers and to realize their dreams. Many of those young people are now undergraduate and graduate students here at American University, enrolled in degree programs that offer a unique focus on public service and engagement. Despite the economic recession, across the university and at the School of Communication, applications and enrollments have increased over the past year, allowing the university to grow its programs while other institutions face major cut backs.

On Thursday, in a re-broadcast of WAMU's syndicated Diane Rehm program, AU president Neil Kerwin discussed Kennedy's legacy and his relationship with the university. "[Kennedy was] an individual who understood American higher education intimately . . . he understood that if this country was going to be strong, it was going to be strong because it was populated by educated, competitive people," said Kerwin.