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DU Faculty Letter Protesting George W. Bush Award

DU Faculty Letter Protesting George W. Bush Award

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Published by: Michael_Lee_Roberts on Sep 09, 2013
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09/16/2013

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To: Chancellor Robert Coombe, Provost Gregg Kvistad, and Dean Christopher HillRe: Award to President George W. BushDate: July 5, 2013We, all faculty members at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, have recentlylearned from the Korbel School’s website, from a memo of July 2nd from Dean Hill and from a petition organized by students and alumni of the school with over 1000 signatures(http://www.change.org/petitions/dean-christopher-hill-josef-korbel-school-of-international-studies-rescind-george-w-bush-s-improving-the-human-condition-award)that former USPresident George W. Bush is to be honored with an award at the Korbel School’s annual KorbelDinner in September 2013. According to the website, an award is to be given in the name of theKorbel School and the University of Denver.When we first learned of the award to the former President, “for improving the humancondition,” we were shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed in light of his administration’sdecisions to repudiate the US’ responsibilities as a signatory of the UN’s Convention againstTorture by authorizing the use of waterboarding of prisoners. President Bush’s culpability is amatter of public evidence and personal admission. Indeed, President Bush affirms waterboardingin an interview with Matt Lauer which can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjUasA6xeVc. The relevant international treaty obligations and obligations under Americanlaw are indicated at the bottom of this letter.We are extremely proud as faculty members that the Korbel School has long been recognizedglobally for its leadership in the area of international human rights theory and practice andhuman development; that the Korbel School has long aimed to nurture students who are“practical idealists”; that the Korbel School has a long and fruitful relationship with the PeaceCorps, an institution to which so many of our students and our Dean remain deeply connected;and that the University of Denver is an institution that is explicitly dedicated to promoting “the public good” and ethical behavior.We are also extremely proud to be associated with a school that builds on and honors the legacyof our founding Dean, Josef Korbel, for whom the school is named. Indeed, our gravedisappointment and shock at the recent announcement to grant an award to former PresidentBush stem precisely from our deep commitment to the school’s remarkable history, and from our recognition of the loyalty and pride of our students and alumni in a school that has such profoundeffects on their lives.While we applaud your decision to reconsider the nature of the award, eliminating reference to“improving the human condition,” we urge you to refrain from associating any award withPresident Bush’s speech at the Korbel dinner. There are many courageous individuals andorganizations that deserve an award from the Josef Korbel School and the University of Denver.The former President is not one of them. We prize—as we know the DU and Korbeladministrations do as well—the values of academic freedom and open debate, and we embracefully the role of our university as a modern-day agora in which diverse viewpoints are aired anddebated.For that reason, we hope not to be misunderstood: the issue we raise is with bestowing an awardin the name of the University and the Korbel School and not with the former President's role as aspeaker at the Korbel Dinner. And while it is perhaps inevitable that some will interpret this letter 

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