President Theodore Roosevelt's appearance and speech at the cornerstone laying for the McKinley Building served as an official recognition of the University. In his speech, Roosevelt hailed American University as a "college that is to teach the science of government" and support the tenets of strong government so valued within the United States.
President Wilson's speech delivered on the opening day of American University continued the tradition of presidential endorsement of the University. Personally interested in education, President Wilson applauded American University for its potential to "emancipat[e] the human mind." Wilson's presence at American University established a precedent for future presidents which continues in the present day.