NEW BRUNSWICK -- A visit from the President of the United States doesn't come cheap.
Rutgers University spent nearly $1.43 million on its commencement ceremony headlined by President Barack Obama last spring, according to a final accounting by the state university.
That is 58 percent -- or nearly $523,000 -- more than Rutgers spent on its 2015 commencement when Bill Nye "The Science Guy" was the featured speaker.
The extra money was spent on additional police officers, a traffic safety consultant to coordinate road closures, extra chair rentals and food for an army of volunteers, according to the final accounting requested by NJ Advance Media that gives a rare glimpse into the cost of a presidential visit.
7 Jersey shout-outs in Obama's Rutgers speech
The record crowd that packed Rutgers' football stadium in Piscataway also helped drive up the cost of the graduation ceremony, said Karen Smith, a Rutgers spokeswoman.
"In 2016, about 52,000 people - nearly 50 percent more than the previous year - attended the event," Smith said. "The difference in costs reflects additional expenses to accommodate the crowd, ranging from extra busses to additional rental chairs and programs."
The additional money to pay for the commencement came from the university's general fund, which includes tuition money and state funding, Smith said.
The $1.43 million bill does not include the cost of flying Obama by helicopter to Piscataway or the cost of the Secret Service to protect him while at Rutgers.
"Any requests from the U.S. Secret Service to provide protection for President Obama were separate from the expenses listed above and are being handled by the U.S. Secret Service," Smith said. "Due to security concerns, we are unable to provide detail on those services or their costs."
Obama's appearance was the highlight of Rutgers' 250th anniversary year and one of the most high-profile events in the university's history. Students petitioned the White House for years, sending videos and letters requesting the president speak at the historic commencement.
"I came here because you asked," Obama told the graduates. "You are the first to launch a three-year campaign . . . I even got three notes from the grandmother of your student body president. And I have to say, that really sealed the deal."
Rutgers paid dozens of outside vendors to help put on the event, including $450,975 to Pennsylvania-based Mountain Productions to stage the event, $103,293 to Traffic Safety Services of South Plainfield for road closure and parking planning and equipment and $131,042 to Academy Bus and First Transit to bus the crowd in and out of the ceremony.
The university paid $164,351 for extra police officers from the State Police, Piscataway, New Brunswick and other area police forces. The school also picked up the $61,204 tab to provide three days worth of meals for volunteers and bring 32,000 bottles of water onto the stadium field.
There were also dozens of smaller expenses, including $9,192 for an on-duty elevator mechanic, $2,250 for hand sanitizing stations and $3,155 for save-the-date postcards.
One of the smallest bills was from graduation specialist Jostens, which charged $30 to print two copies of the honorary doctoral degree presented to Obama.
Though Rutgers usually pays its graduation speakers a $35,000 fee, Obama spoke for free.
The final tally for the Obama visit comes as Rutgers is planning its next commencement. The university announced earlier this month that Steven Van Zandt, a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and one of the stars of "The Sopranos," will be the speaker at the May 15 ceremony.&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3473033/Rutgers-2016-Commencement-costs-President-Obama.pdf"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Rutgers 2016 Commencement costs/ President Obama as speaker (PDF)&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3473033/Rutgers-2016-Commencement-costs-President-Obama.txt"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Rutgers 2016 Commencement costs/ President Obama as speaker (Text)&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3473034/Rutgers-2015-Commencement-Costs-Bill-Nye-as.pdf"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Rutgers 2015 Commencement Costs/ Bill Nye as speaker (PDF)&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3473034/Rutgers-2015-Commencement-Costs-Bill-Nye-as.txt"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Rutgers 2015 Commencement Costs/ Bill Nye as speaker (Text)&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; Kelly Heyboer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.