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Michelle Obama declines invitation to speak at MU food convention

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | 5:55 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Michelle Obama declined the invitation to speak at a MU food convention in March. An email from her scheduling department said the first lady must decline the majority of the invitations she receives due to time constraints.

MU’s Life Sciences and Society Annual Symposium is set to take place March 16-18, and the replacement speaker will be Brian Wansink from Cornell University. Wansink is the author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”

Stefanie Engelstein, director of the symposium, said the social media effort to get Michelle Obama's attention began over the summer.

"We did know that (the rejection) was the most likely outcome, but we organized an event that would still be outstanding even without the first lady," Engelstein said.

Here is the email response in its entirety:

Dear Stefani,

Thanks to you and your colleagues and students at the University of Missouri for inviting the First Lady to the Life Sciences & Society Symposium.  Due to time constraints, the First Lady must decline the majority of the invitations she receives.   We have reviewed your invitation and, unfortunately, the First Lady will be unable to attend.

The First Lady values each and every invitation, and we thank you again for thinking of us. Mrs. Obama sends her best wishes and hopes that you continue your work to strengthen your community and our country. Thank you again for your interest and understanding, and please keep us in mind for future events.

Sincerely,

The Scheduling Department of First Lady Michelle Obama


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