Bush legacy should be planted at SMU

January 26, 2007

I’m afraid that the Statesman is behind the curve on this.  The editorial board acknowledges the presence of the Bush Institute, which is conceived of as a partisan, advocacy-oriented think-tank, rather than a school like the LBJ school (as SMU originally proposed to the Bush people, as a matter of fact), but doesn’t dwell on how different this is than the LBJ library, or on its possible effects on the public reputation and internal governance of SMU.  The concerns about secrecy and Bush’s excecutive order giving Presidents and their designees in perpetuity the right to unilaterally assert executive privilige to keep documents off-limits are mentioned, but their impacts on the research value of the library are unaddressed.  And, of great importance to me as an SMU faculty member, the article ignores the institutional effects of bringing in such a large and well-funded operation to our small university — remember, we’re much smaller than any of the universities that have Presidential libraries.

Bush legacy should be planted at SMU
Editorial Board
Austin American-Statesman
January 27, 2007

When American historians years from now study this period of U.S. life, the dominant figure will be President George W. Bush and the central issue will be the war in Iraq. And they will go to Dallas to study his presidency – if his presidential library, museum and political institute are built at Southern Methodist University, Bush’s apparent top choice, though the decision is not final.

But some on the SMU faculty and in the Methodist Church object. Some worry about parking or having tourists disturb an academic setting.

The strongest criticism, though, comes from those who intensely disapprove of Bush’s policies, particularly his decision to invade and occupy Iraq. Any presidential library is, in part, a monument to an ego, and some in the SMU and Methodist worlds can’t stomach the idea that the campus would house a monument to this particular ego, or his conservative politics.

Yet it would be a mistake for SMU to refuse the Bush library, the museum or the political institute – which no doubt will bend right in its views – that will come with it. But the president and his successors should be as wise in their handling of his legacy, as President Johnson and his have been.

Continued here.


Concerns mount over Bush library

January 26, 2007

Probably the best story in terms of its understanding of the changed dynamics of the debate on campus. It’s also important to note that SMU’s administration has clearly backed off of its earlier, groundless assertions that there is widespread faculty support for the Bush Library-Museum-Institute.

Concerns mount over Bush library
Miguel Bustillo
Los Angeles Times
January 26, 2007

HOUSTON — More than a quarter of the faculty at Southern Methodist University on Thursday demanded a referendum on whether the Dallas campus should become the home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, if that means accepting a conservative think tank as part of the deal.

The petition, which was signed by 170 faculty members — including professors from all six SMU schools, several department chairs and past presidents of the faculty senate — is the latest sign of rancor over the proposal to bring Bush’s papers and an institute touting his legacy to the university.

Continued here (registration required).

Bush library donors could remain anonymous

January 26, 2007

Bush library donors could remain anonymous
Todd J. Gillman
The Dallas Morning News
January 25, 2007

WASHINGTON – The big names on campus – all thanks to big dollars – are emblazoned across SMU: the Meadows Museum, Cox School of Business, Moody Coliseum, Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Bob Hope Theater.

There’s even the Laura Bush Promenade – a walkway financed by a $250,000 gift eight years ago from George W. Bush to his wife’s alma mater.

Colleges routinely offer naming rights to encourage donors. But public recognition is voluntary. Private schools don’t have to identify financial supporters, and neither do presidential libraries, such as the one Mr. Bush may place at Southern Methodist University.

Watchdog groups have warned of potential abuse when presidents building endowments for their libraries are allowed to accept unlimited, anonymous gifts from corporations, federal contractors, even foreign governments. Seeking more openness, the Senate last week voted to require disclosure of donations of $200 or more to presidential libraries or inaugural committees – but only from registered lobbyists.

Continued here.

Baylor Student Newspaper Rejects Library

January 26, 2007

The kids are allright! 

Amazing timing — on the same day as SMU’s Daily Campus expressed grave concerns about the Institute, the Baylor Lariat expressed its outright opposition to the library:

Consequences of Bush library outweigh benefits
Staff Editorial
Jan. 26, 2007

When the location for George W. Bush’s presidential library is decided in a few weeks, someone is bound to be disappointed.

Undisclosed amounts of money have gone into attempting to persuade the site selection committee to choose an appropriate location.

All but one contender will have wasted the majority of that money. The losers will only have the national attention that has come out of the race as a benefit. And with the University of Dallas dropping out of the running Monday, the race is now just between Baylor and Southern Methodist University.

Continued here.

Students Join the Fray; Daily Campus Blasts Autonomous Institute

January 26, 2007

Speak out against the Institute
The Daily Campus Ed Board
January 26, 2007

From today’s Daily Campus, the SMU student newspaper:

We’re glad to see the debate on campus about the Bush Library complex. Frankly, it should have happened a long time ago. But better late than never. There are important issues that need to be addressed before all of the details get set in stone. We support the library and museum coming to campus, but we still have reservations about the institute’s role on and whether it should be here.

Continued here.