Sarah Palin coming to speak at CSU Stanislaus in June

TURLOCK -- Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will speak at California State University, Stanislaus, this summer.

The June 25 appearance, announced Thursday, will be part of the university's 50th anniversary celebration. Tickets are $500.

"She's one of the most sought-after speakers in the country," said Matt Swanson, president of the university foundation's board of directors. "She is a well-known figure who draws interest. This is a fund-raiser, so that's what we want."

Palin, 46, was in her first term as governor in Alaska when Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona picked her as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

After the election, Palin returned to Alaska, then resigned. She wrote a best- selling autobiography titled "Going Rogue" and has been speaking to Republican audiences around the country. She also was hired by Fox News to be a political analyst.

She has been vocal in opposition to the health care bill signed into law this week. Tuesday, she advised followers via her Twitter account: "Don't Retreat -- Instead, RELOAD."

Jacob McDougal, chairman of the 50th Anniversary Committee, said the university's foundation selected Palin because it was obvious she'd be a big draw.

"She's a former candidate for vice president, the first female on the Republican ticket," he said. "She's a trailblazer."

Organizers appreciate that Palin is a polarizing figure. Regardless of political bent, McDougal said, "Who better to bring than someone with thought-provoking ideas?"

Not everyone is pleased with the choice.

Patty Hughes, an executive board member of the Stanislaus County Democratic Central Committee, said her e-mail inbox flooded when news got out Thursday morning.

"Inviting Sarah Palin reinforces the false idea that the Central Valley is red California, whereas I know ... that there are countless supporters for President Obama who are working hard to enact the changes that the Central Valley needs desperately, such as health care," Hughes said.

McDougal said Palin's contract prevents the foundation from disclosing what she's charging. But, he said, the foundation paid the tab and money raised at the event will go to the university.

Palin typically commands $100,000 for a speaking appearance. Swanson said the foundation hopes the gala generates $100,000 to $200,000 for the university.

The university foundation has several other events -- aimed at students and the community -- in the works to wrap up CSUS' 50th anniversary celebration, which began in 2008. September marks 50 years since the university started classes, McDougal said, and a Founders' Day is planned Sept. 18.

"We'll have a number of special events going on throughout the year, geared toward different audiences," McDougal said.

Sarah Palin's appearance June 25 at

the university is billed as a black-tie fund-raising event, held by the

CSU Stanislaus Foundation. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by a five-course dinner and dancing. Tickets may be purchased by calling 667-3131.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at or 578-2343.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star