An Appeal to Review the Decision to Present George W. Bush DU’s “Improving the Human Condition” Award

I said that my last post would probably be my final one, but in light of some recent developments, I felt it wouldn’t be appropriate not to post this here. I did not want my final post to reflect badly on the Josef Korbel School of International Studies but in actuality, part of the reason why this protest is being made (by myself and many others) is because we do not feel this invitation reflects the values and learning of the majority of those within the School, either students or faculty. If you feel like participating, please sign the petition that is contained within the text of this letter I wrote to Josef Korbel School Dean, Christopher Hill (former US Ambassador to Iraq).

Please read my other posts in order to get a more full picture of what the School really represents and offers.


Dear Dean Hill,
I wish to join with the many who are expressing their disappointment with the decision to invite former President George W. Bushto be honoured with the “Improving the Human Condition” award at the 16th Annual Korbel Dinner, and to strongly suggest that this decision be reviewed.
I believe this award does not conform with the values and learning of the vast majority of the student body, former students, or many of the faculty and staff of the school, a number of whom oppose the decision but do not feel at will to state the same. This disapproval is further evidenced by the large number of individuals who have now signed onto the petition opposing this decision. (
I understand that such a high profile public figure as Mr Bush would be appealing to some potential donors, however, it is my strongly held belief that JKSIS not only dishonours those who were victims of Mr Bush’s administration, but will also do more harm than good to its own long term reputation, among prospective students and donors.
While bringing high profile figures to campus for dialogue and debate is a Korbel tradition we all appreciate, an award for “Improving the Human Condition” is an entirely different matter. I know of not one Korbel student with whom I have spoken who approves of this decision, and it would not therefore be a stretch to imagine that prospective students would be turned off by it too. By associating our School with approval for a man whose legacy (polls confirm) is widely viewed as damaging or at the very least, controversial, among the general public and scholars, we cast a pall over our institution and the degrees awarded within it.
Although I appreciate that former President Bush has received praise for his work on PEPFAR, this stands as a singular portion of his legacy among a vast swathe of actions, or inaction, which are widely viewed to have had a negative impact both within the US and abroad, during and since his tenure.  While a full description of the range of areas in which his administration has been taken to task for its actions would require thousands of words, it should suffice to say Mr Bush went to war on false pretenses, condoned and directed the use of torture, severely mishandled Hurricane Katrina, and presided over the most damaging financial crisis since the Great Depression. Even PEPFAR itself has not gone without criticism. Perhaps most relevant to this discussion is the fact that where there is the greatest consensus on his failings is with regard to his foreign policies, which should be well known to a school of IR. There are, simply said, far more appropriate and deserving, and far less controversial, people to give this award to.
With all due respect,  I hope that you would be willing to reconsider this award for the benefit of the School, students and faculty. If the JKSIS administration would be interested, I am sure that the large number of alumni who oppose this decision would be willing to provide a list of more suitable candidates for this award.
Yours sincerely,
Alison Lowe

Posted on June 30, 2013, in Josef Korbel School of International Studies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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