"Students and political operatives who have been part of the controversy of this event tonight, goodness gracious," Palin told the crowd. "In spite of some of the hoopla leading up to this dinner, I am extremely delighted to get to be here."
Love her or hate her, Palin is fundraising gold. Her appearance made the university $200,000, more money than any other fundraiser in the university's history.
But the secrecy surrounding her speaking contract created plenty of controversy.
"I'm so happy that you stuck with this program, stuck with this event, and you didn't cancel on me," she said.
Officials with the university and the non-profit foundation holding the event refused to say how much they paid Palin to speak.
"It is part of the contract is not to disclose the fee," said a spokeswoman.
Keeping that figure secret has created so much controversy that State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill that would require auxiliary organizations performing government functions to open up their books.
"How do you allow a foundation that's working in the name of our students in a public institution, like the California State University and UC, to operate in this secrecy?" Yee said.
Attorney General Jerry Brown has launched an investigation into the finances of the university's foundation -- a point Palin poked fun at.
"Jerry Brown and friends, come on, this is California. Do you not have anything alse to do?" Palin said.
About 100 people gathered in front of the university with signs protesting Palin and her stance on issues such as immigration and drilling for oil.
"It's the 50th anniversary and it's sort of a big deal for this campus and I feel like we need a speaker that stands more for education," said protester Eddie Campbell.
But on the opposite corner, supporters gathered to welcome Palin, pointing out the money people paid to see her is much needed.
"I think she's coming here, she's raising money for us, we need money at this time, and I think it's a great thing that she's coming," said Palin supporter Katherine Luryn.
Officials say that Democrats have also spoken at the university, but no speaker has created as much attention as Palin.