Bush pays surprise visit to Stanford

In unannounced appearance, former president discusses issues with students

Former U.S. President George W. Bush paid a little-noticed visit to Stanford University last week.

About 30 students were invited to a session on Monday, May 5, but were not told they were meeting Bush until the 43rd president walked into the room.

Joining Bush in a panel discussion were Condoleezza Rice, his former secretary of state and national security advisor, and Stanford President John Hennessy. Law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, who directs Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, moderated the conversation.

Though the substance of Bush's remarks were off the record, the former president touched on many of the defining moments of his presidency, including his military strategies following September 11, 2001, according to a report by Adam Gorlick, communications manager for the Freeman Spogli Institute. Though Gorlick described Bush as relaxed and sometimes self-deprecating, he reported that the former president grew more serious when discussing Sept. 11, his commitment to addressing Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic and what he described as a universal desire for freedom.

Bush also touched on immigration reform, education policies and the Edward Snowden leaks.

"I suspect he misses this sort of engagement," second-year law student Gregory Schweizer told Gorlick. "The media always portrays him as being disengaged from current affairs but I'm impressed with how interested and engaged he still is."

Cuellar said, "On this occasion we wanted our students to have an opportunity for a candid conversation with one of the key policymakers of the early 21st century and we think such experiences will further prepare them for leadership in a complex world."

The visit was arranged with the help of investment partners Brad Freeman, a former Stanford trustee, and Ronald Spogli, a current Stanford trustee. Both men are longtime friends of Bush. Bush appointed Spogli ambassador to Italy in 2005. Spogli also served as ambassador to San Marino.

In 2005, Freeman and Spogli together donated $50 million to Stanford, in recognition for which the university renamed its Stanford Institute for International Studies the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Chris Kenrick


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Very sad that Stanford would spend big bucks to invite Bush II (who was responsible for so much death and destruction on false premises) to campus and not designate the money where it could go to good use to help others way, way less fortunate than Bush II or negatively impacted by the very policies he espoused and his genuine disinterest in the welfare of people all over the world. Sad, indeed.

Posted by Mama, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

What makes you think big bucks were spent? Those big bucks are being spent every time we have to pay for another one of our president's fund-raising swings through Silicon Valley [portion removed.]

Posted by Fox news: scandal!, a resident of Green Acres
on May 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Fox news: scandal!, a resident of Green Acres
on May 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Curious, a resident of Mountain View
on May 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Lugher, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by MIdtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Midtown Resident,
With all the nasty comments like in the responses above, no wonder the visit was unannounced. It is a shame a little more prepared audience, and less biased, could not ask some good questions. For example, with regard to racial profiling, how is it that President Bush was so much more active in opposition than President Obama? Is it true that a white president is allowed to deal with racial profiling, but an African American President is not? George Bush instituted a nation-wide policy of Police Agencies keeping track of their stops by racial groups. President Obama got burned just for quoting the results of this data. Is this topic too hot to handle? And where does Condoleezza Rice weigh in on this? Maybe next time the local press could be invited.

Posted by food for thought, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Becky Stillwell, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Becky Stillwell is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on May 14, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

Harry Belafonte was on campus last week and spoke about the rise of the fourth Reich funded by the Koch Brothers and there was no publicity. It was open to the public and standing room only. Bush comes and it is private, Condoleezza Rice as the hostess proselytizing students. Let's hope Cheney isn't one they are trying to suborn.

Posted by editingwhiz, a resident of Portola Valley
on May 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

editingwhiz is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to Log in

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

On Tour at Selective Schools: Chapman, La Verne, Redlands, Whittier
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,638 views

The dress code
By Jessica T | 14 comments | 1,437 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 13 comments | 965 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 813 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 264 views