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Chapman University Gives Ford Years Their Due

The former president is honored at a gala that grosses $400,000 for Cold War Studies program and caps a two-day symposium.

March 01, 2001|PAMELA DIAMOND

The event: Chapman University's Global Citizen Gala honoring former President Ford. The black-tie dinner, held Saturday at the campus' Hutton Sports Center in Orange, capped a two-day symposium on the Ford presidency.

Pomp and circumstance: A presentation of colors by the Marine Corps Honor Guard set a stately tone to a night that Chapman President James Doti called a "historic occasion."

As 500 guests looked on, Chapman Chairman of the Board George Argyros gave Ford the Global Citizen Medal in recognition of his public service during the Cold War years.

"The world is a better place because of him," said Argyros, citing the calming effect of Ford's presidency after the turmoil of Vietnam and Watergate.

"As one of the 20th century's most revered and respected leaders, he has always acted with honor, honesty and great dignity," said Argyros, co-chairman of the gala along with Paul Folino.

Accepting the award, Ford said: "It's a very high honor and great privilege. . . . The United States of America has done an excellent job in its 200-plus years, and I condemn its critics and skeptics. I'm proud of our track record and I think all Americans should be."

Stars and stripes: American flags gleamed golden in spotlights along the sides of Chapman's gymnasium, which had been transformed into an elegant salon fit for a president. Three huge, white helium-filled spheres floated like Chinese lanterns above the center of the room, illuminating tables crowned with red Ecuadorean roses.

While guests supped on flavorful dishes such as lobster en bellevue salad, mustard-crusted lamb chops and ginger macadamia nut cake with chocolate Kahlua mousse, they watched a video montage of symposium highlights.

Quote: "We think it's important for the students to be exposed to people whose service and leadership have had a global impact," university trustee Doy Henley said.

As a part of the symposium--titled "To Heal the Nation"--four Chapman students met with Ford to present their views of his presidency and hear his response.

Bottom line: The event grossed $400,000 for Chapman's Center for Cold War Studies. Besides historical research, an annual symposium and its Distinguished Lecture Series, the center sponsors scholarships, government internships and studies abroad.

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