TURLOCK, CA - Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's appearance at Stanislaus State University fundraiser Firday night was good business for the school, despite the controversy surrounding her speaking fee.
"Anything that makes sense to our community, it's about what the community gets behind, and the campus, and our donor group. If has to be financially viable. We don't have time to break even, we have to make money," said Stanislaus State Foundation President Matt Swanson.
Swanson and university president Hamid Shirvani spoke at an afternoon news conference. They said the Palin appearance to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary is the largest fundraiser in school history.
"At this point, we've raised a gross of $450,000. We have a net cash of $200,000," said Swanson.
"This money, $200,000, will go a long way for us. One-third off the bat goes to student scholarships," said Shirvani.
Because Palin's speaking contract is confidential, school officials won't confirm what how much she is being paid. They did say the event sold about 370 tickets, at $500 each, and phones were still ringing Friday with people trying to buy tickets.
"It was very clear early on she was someone who'd drive excitement for the event, and she was our best deal," said Swanson. The school said actor Gary Sinise, a previous speaker at Stanislaus State, produced about half the funds of Palin's visit.
Tight security at the Turlock campus kept much of the campus empty Friday.
by Tim Daly, firstname.lastname@example.org