STANFORD, California - More than 100 Stanford University students demonstrated on Thursday against a decision to make former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution amid campus discontent over a symbol of U.S. failings in the Iraq war.
To date, nearly 4,000 Stanford faculty, students and alumni have signed a petition begun by a faculty member to reject Rumsfeld's appointment announced in September, but John Raisian, the institute's director, said Rumsfeld deserved the honor of being a "distinguished visiting fellow."
"Donald Rumsfeld has a remarkable record of achievement," Raisian told the Stanford Faculty Senate. "Like it or not, he has had a distinguished career."
Rumsfeld twice served as defense secretary under President Gerald Ford and President George W. Bush. He also served under President Richard Nixon; in the House of Representatives; as an ambassador to NATO; and as chief executive of two Fortune 500 companies.
"The concern with Secretary Rumsfeld is that he might be distinguished for the wrong reasons," said David Spiegel, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "The fact that he is available for this appointment speaks to his difficulties."
The position does not require residency in the San Francisco area, one of the hotbeds of anti-Iraq war sentiment since Bush launched the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.
"If you consider his entire career, you could make an argument for the title distinguished," said Debra Satz, an associate professor in the department of philosophy.
"But really, we're talking about the last six or seven years and I think across the board, he has been an incompetent secretary of defense."
(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; writing by Adam Tanner; editing by Todd Eastham)