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George W. Bush Award Prompts Protest At University Of Denver

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DALLAS, TX - JULY 10: Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a immigration naturalization ceremony held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on July 10, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. Bush delivered keynote remarks during the naturalization ceremony, where 20 candidates took the oath of allegiance and became American citizens. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) | Getty

DENVER — About 100 students and faculty at the University of Denver and others protested against a decision by the university's international school to give a global service award Monday to former President George W. Bush.

Protesters demonstrated on a sidewalk outside a downtown hotel where Bush was being honored at a private fundraising dinner by The Josef Korbel School.

Bush was being honored for his service as president and his efforts to fight HIV, cervical cancer and malaria in Africa.

Opponents of the award presentation faulted the 43rd president for starting the war in Iraq and allowing the use of torture on prisoners.

Kathy Joy, 63, a retired health teacher at Arapahoe Community College, said she didn't think the award should go to Bush because of the war, but also because he cut foreign aid for family planning in Africa.

"I don't think Bush deserves this award because he didn't do anything but lie to the people and lie to the country," she said. "Even if he did send a couple of dollars of aid to Africa, he did a lot more harm killing innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan."

University spokeswoman Kim DeVigil insisted the university was honored by Bush's visit and said the school should be a place where civil discourse involving all different views can take place.

More than 1,100 people were attending the private, sold-out event.

As president, Bush started the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, which has spent billions of dollars to fight HIV as well as malaria and tuberculosis.

Past recipients of the award include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former secretaries of state Condoleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright.

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