The University of Denver's plans to honor former president George W. Bush with the school's Global Service Award were met with plans for protests by DU's students, faculty and alumni, according to an Associated Press report via the Denver Post.
The award, to be presented at a fundraising dinner Monday, honors Bush for his work in Africa battling HIV, cervical cancer and malaria, and also his service as president. That's what sparked the outrage at DU.
Some students and alumni feel Bush's starting the war in Iraq and allowing the use of torture on prisoners shouldn't be honored with a humanitarian service award, and that DU's decision to honor Bush in this way will damage the reputation of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, founded by Korbel in 1964.
Sara Fitouri, a Korbel and DU law student, said, "He's tarnishing Korbel's name in an attempt to rebrand Bush as a positive character," in reference to the Korbel School's dean, Christopher Hill.
In a Washington Times report from August, Floyd Ciruli, a member of the the school’s Social Science Foundation Board, lauded the school's decision to honor Bush.
“He’s been a model ex-president,” Mr. Ciruli said. “From my point of view, the award is proper and incredibly prestigious for the school. And there will be some controversy, but the part they’re focused on is his work in Africa, and for that he’s received enormous praise.”
DU spokeswoman Kim DeVigil vowed that the school would uphold its commitment to free discourse.
"A university is a place where civil discourse should occur and the fact that a former two-term president is coming to the university is an honor," said university spokeswoman .
Past recipients of the award, the name of which changes each year, include United National secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Korbel's daughter, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.