Lawrence Journal-World Writer
BALDWIN -- Had Baker University officials acted on their assumptions, a cup of tea would have been awaiting Margaret Thatcher on Oct. 23.
A helping of apologies would have followed.
"One of the things we've learned from Lady Thatcher's people is that she prefers coffee to tea," said Jerry Weakley, vice president for university relations. "It's the reverse of what you might expect."
When the former British prime minister arrives on campus to rededicate the Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel, "oops" won't cut it. Since Baker officials learned that Thatcher was coming, they've been ironing out a lengthy list of preparations for the visit.
"We've been working for the last six months to make sure we have all the big details and the little details and every detail planned," said John Fuller, Baker's director of news services.
The main details are as follows: Thatcher will present a convocation address at 11 a.m. at the Collins Center. From there, she'll go to the chapel for the 12:15 p.m. dedication ceremony.
A key reason that Thatcher is visiting Baldwin is that her father preached at the chapel, which was moved piece-by-piece from Sproxton, England, and rebuilt on the Baker campus this year.
Thatcher, prime minister from 1979 to 1990, grew up in Grantham, a central English market town near Sproxton.
A private luncheon -- where Thatcher will be served coffee -- will follow the rededication ceremony.
Thatcher will be accompanied by a team of Scotland Yard officials, who are scheduled to arrive on campus next week to map out security plans.
Diplomacy and etiquette guidelines already have been set. For example, Thatcher will be referred to as "Lady Thatcher" except when she's formally introduced, when she will be called "The Right Honorable, The Baroness Thatcher."
Weakley said flags would be arranged according to international diplomatic criteria.
"We'll make sure each standard has been marked with the name of the flag that goes in it, so the student who is carrying the flag has rehearsed and knows where that flag goes," he said.
Carolyn Lambert, wife of Baker president Dan Lambert, said the university has been working with an etiquette consultant to prepare the luncheon.
A special seating chart is being created, and English flower arrangements will be prepared for the table.
Mrs. Lambert, who heard Thatcher speak at a conference two years ago, said she was anxious to visit with the former prime minister.
"I'm sure that the day of the event, there will be some butterflies," she said. "But I'm excited to meet her. She's a wonderful speaker, and she also puts everyone at ease."