The Panther declined entry to the event to maintain journalistic standards. Read our editorial for explanation.
A revered Chapman alumni, a former President and $15 million raised: this was the evening of Oct. 9. Donors, faculty members and a handful of lucky students joined the Argyros family and President George W. Bush for an evening commemorating George Argyros and the naming of the Argyros School of Business and Economics.
“The event was a huge success. At the end of the evening, Lisa Argyros made the surprise announcement that the Argyros family would be donating another $10 million to the business school,” Tom Turk, the dean of the business school, informed The Panther.
George Argyros, the honored guest of the evening, graduated from Chapman (then Chapman College) in 1959 with a degree in business and economics. He served as the chairman of Chapman’s board of trustees from 1976 until 2001 and worked in both the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. Argyros’ life and career is currently documented on the first floor of Beckman Hall.
The evening began with a dinner and was followed by comments from Dean Turk before President Bush took center stage. President Bush was interviewed by Julianne Argyros, with talking points including the President’s personal issues, his life after office, the passing away of his parents and how he transitioned into his life as a painter. President Bush was then presented with Chapman’s Global Citizen Medal, the honoring decision made by President Daniele Struppa.
Intermixed with the A-list donors and faculty members attending the event were Chapman Student Ambassadors and a handful of student attendees. Taylor Duncker, president of Chapman Republicans, was one of the lucky students to score a ticket to the event.
“I would be interested in seeing any President come to campus and hear him talk, especially because I am a conservative and I am excited to hear what (Bush) has to say,” Duncker said. “I didn’t purchase (the tickets). I kind of got a hookup, I guess I would say. It’s a long story to be honest, I don’t really want to get into it.”
Representatives of Chapman Democrats informed The Panther that no members of their club was in attendance. No tickets were offered to the club.
Guests entered the Harold Hutton Sports Center at about 6 p.m. Lori Cox Han, a presidency scholar and political science professor at Chapman, told The Panther that the gym looked unrecognizable.
“If you would have blindfolded me and walked me in there, I would not have guessed what building I was in,” Han said. “You couldn’t tell you were in the gym. It looked amazing.”
While attendees were ushered into the transformed space, a chorus of student protestors situated on the Wells Fargo Stage outside of the Leatherby Libraries shouted over the crowd. According to Turk, President Bush did not notice the protestors, as he entered the gym through the back entrance. Turk also did not hear what the protestors were saying and informed The Panther that he didn’t “have any impression” on the demonstration.
For those in attendance with high enough clearance, they were offered the chance to have their photograph taken with President Bush. Han told The Panther that her interaction with President Bush while getting her photo taken with him was “very personable.”
Han was one of the faculty members from the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in attendance: others included Wilkinson Dean Jennifer Keene and Dr. Gregory Daddis of the War and Society Master’s program. Other faculty members in attendance included Schmid Dean Jason Keller and Dean of Students Jerry Price.
Turk explained that the event will help raise the visibility of the Argyros School of Business and Economics and thus will “increase the value of the degree” of each student, whether a business student or not.
“The resources provided will allow us to give scholarships to talented students, attract nationally-known faculty, enhance professional development of students and increase connections with alumni,” Turk said. “It will also allow us to showcase what we do to a wider national audience.”