Leno live at Bradley

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By Abby Rhodes
October 17, 2010

Thousands came to Bradley’s Renaissance Coliseum tonight to experience Jay Leno, the world famous late-night comedian. And a group of outstanding mechanical engineering students also met Jay Leno, the car expert.

“When Jay arrived I suggested that he make himself comfortable in the green room until his evening performance, but he wanted to go directly to see our students,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “He said, ‘I want to meet these incredible students of yours.’”

Leno, whose car collection is as famous as his punch lines, was referring to Bradley’s mechanical engineering students who build award-winning formula racecars and lightweight urban vehicles. When the denim-clad comedian approached the cars, there was no doubting his expertise. The grease spots on his jeans and fingertips were a dead giveaway that his passion for cars is no joke.

“With grease on his pants, that’s my kind of guy,” said senior Kyle Mulligan. "He’s one of the most famous gear heads out there, so it was a great opportunity to talk with him one-on-one about our project.”

Leno signed both of the cars as he talked specs with the students and congratulated their professor, Dr. Martin Morris.

“These are world class students, and this is a world class university,” said Leno, who seemed in no rush to shut down the shoptalk.

So it was a bit surreal when Leno strutted into the Renaissance Coliseum for his headline performance, opened his show with jabs at America’s most notorious politicians, and drew uproarious laughter from the crowd. He had replaced his blue jeans with a signature suit for a masterful monologue.  And he topped it off with a nod to his new friends in mechanical engineering.

“It’s so inspiring, these students doing incredible things,” said Leno. “They’re coming out of Bradley, and I couldn’t be prouder to have met them.”

Earlier in the day, the Bradley family gathered for a variety of Homecoming events. Under the theme “Rediscover Bradley,” many of the university’s more than 61,000 alumni returned to the Hilltop to behold massive new structures, intricately manicured grounds, and a campus buzzing with energy.

Alumni Association President Michelle Noe ’98 said rediscovering Bradley is about more than experiencing the additions to campus.

“It’s also an opportunity to teach and share stories about our remarkable past and our founder, Lydia Moss Bradley,” said Noe. “Many of us don’t take the time to learn her remarkable story and consider all we owe to her until after we’ve left campus.”

In Homecoming action at Shea Stadium, the Bradley soccer team defeated Central Arkansas 3-1.