Turlock Facebook, media website comments, letters to the editor, and talk of the town are debating whether it is good or bad for former Vice-Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin to serve as the keynote speaker at California State University, Stanislaus’ 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, June 25.
A Facebook group, Sarah Palin, Terrible Choice for 50th Anniversary of CSU Stanislaus, was started about a week ago and has grown from 1,200 members in 4 days to over 2,500 members currently.
The academic group’s description states:
The Board of Directors of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation announced on March 25, 2010 that Sarah Palin will serve as the guest of honor and Keynote Speaker at California State University, Stanislaus’ 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, June 25. This decision was made without consulting the faculty and staff, some of which have given 30-50 years of dedicated service to the university and its community.
For many reasons, Mrs. Palin is an unsuitable choice to headline the gala event to celebrate the university’s 50-year existence. She is widely regarded as anti-intellectual, and her polarizing rhetoric and intolerance of views that differ from her own run counter to the very “Idea of a University” (cf. Cardinal John H. Newman, 1801-90). However, perhaps the most important reason is this gala anniversary should be about the institution and education, not focused on a celebrity-politician who has no familiarity with the former and no record of accomplishment with the latter.
Freedom of speech is to be fostered and encouraged in academia, and it would be interesting to see Mrs. Palin participate in a formal political debate at CSU Stanislaus. However, she is an extremely poor choice as the guest of honor for the university’s 50th Anniversary Gala. The Foundation’s Board of Directors has done the institution it supposedly serves a grave disservice by hiring Mrs. Palin as a keynote speaker.
This Facebook group was established to allow those who disapprove of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation’s Board of Directors decision to hire Mrs. Palin’s services* on June 25 to register that disapproval by joining the group.
Prof. of Zoology
* cost has not been disclosed
While Palin’s intellect and politics are being debated as worthy to represent or even be a guest of honor at the CSU Stanislaus 50th Anniversary Gala, the event is being put on as a fundraiser by the 501(c)(3) entity California State University, Stanislaus Foundation Board of Directors which has been identified by the Internal Revenue Service, for receipt, acknowledgment and oversight of private gifts to the University.
“We want to be very clear that no public funds are being used to support this event. Furthermore, no existing foundation funds are being used either,” said Matt Swanson, President of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation Board of Directors. “The event is self-funded. All funds used have been given for the purpose of putting on this event in order to raise money to benefit University programs and student services.”
Despite the private funding of the event, much questioning of Palin’s cost to speak has been a focal point in the media. The CSU Stanislaus Foundation has declined to disclose the amount paid because of contractual stipulations.
“The contract is confidential per our agreement with the Washington Speakers Bureau,” said Matt Swanson.
Groups concerned with government transparency are trying to get the contractual cost released to the public despite that the CSU Foundation is a private group, but angling on the 501(c)(3) reporting.
Both CSU Stanislaus Foundation President Matt Swanson and CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani, who also serves as the Foundation Chair, financially contributed thousands of dollars to National Presidential Candidates. However, Swanson donated over $15,000 to the support of the Republican Presidential Candidate while Shirvani and his wife contributed a combined amount of over $5,000 to the Democrat Candidate according to www.campaignmoney.com.
According to the CSU Stanislaus website, as of August 2008 the CSU Stanislaus Foundation Officers are listed as: Hamid Shirvani – Chair of the Board, Matt Swanson – President, Susana Gajic-Bruyea – Interim Executive Director, Suzanne Green –Treasurer, Jane Bruner – Faculty Representative, Andrew Janz – Student Representative.
Foundation Directors are listed as: Bill Ahlem, Ron Foster, Esmail Amid-Hozour, Dianne Gagos, Amin Ashrafzadeh, Steve Gemperle, George Beach, Sr., Edna Malik, Dorothy Bizzini, Bill Mattos, Carol Bright Tougas, Steve Mort, James Brenda, Milan Panic, Matthew Bruno, Sr., Michael Russell, Moses Elam, Matt Swanson, Bob Endsley, Robert Triebsch, Ed Fitzpatrick, Jane Vilas, Paula Zagaris Leffler, Ernie Gemperle – Director Emeritus, and Patty Griffin – Director Emeritus.
The CSU Stanislaus Foundation believes Sarah Palin will serve her purpose as a keynote speaker and help attract guests to the fundraiser. Currently the limited tickets to the CSUS Gala are reported as selling well.
Palin was the Republican Party’s first woman Vice-Presidential Nominee and the first female Governor of Alaska.
Mrs. Palin recently released her autobiography “Going Rogue: An American Life.” The book was an instant bestseller.
Mrs. Palin is also a Fox News Channel political commentator.
“We are proud and honored to welcome such a well-known figure to the CSU Stanislaus campus,” said Matt Swanson, president of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation Board of Directors.
This CSU Stanislaus 50th Anniversary Gala is a black-tie fundraising event, hosted by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation.
The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by a five-course dinner and then dancing. Tickets are limited and can be purchased by calling (209) 667-3131.
Proceeds from this black-tie event will benefit the University.