California State University, Stanislaus, wanted a famous-name speaker who could generate a lot of attention at the small school in the San Joaquin Valley. Stanislaus State was hosting a fundraiser in June and students and faculty supported the idea of doing anything to raise a few hundred thousand for the college, which has about 6,000 students.

Unless that speaker was, well, Sarah Palin. According to an article by Patty Guerra in the Modesto Bee:

Complaints and questions have descended on the California State University, Stanislaus, Foundation since it announced last week that former vice presidential candidate and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would headline a black-tie fund-raiser in June for the university’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Stanislaus State Zoology Professor Patrick Kelly apparently started an anti-Palin Facebook page, complaining that:

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.” 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.

Some have also complained about Palin’s speaking fee, probably in excess of $100,000. At the end of the day, well, it’s a fundraising event so whatever.

Matt Swanson, president of the university foundation, is not concerned with the negative reaction to his choice of Palin as a speaker. He says his main objective is to raise cash and, just like a three-headed monkey, Palin will draw a crowd and hopefully encourage attendees to open their wallets.

It’s not like Palin’s being made a visiting professor or even getting an honorary degree from the school. The event either raises money for the school or it doesn’t. Tickets to the $500 a plate dinner are reportedly selling briskly. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer