An excellent piece in today’s Times that calls on SMU to step up to the plate by insisting on some terms for the acceptance of the library and institute — the revocation of President Bush’s executive order that grants him and his designees unprecedented and perpetual authority to control access to Presidential documents, and information about the financial contributors to the library. Many faculty members have expressed concern that SMU President Gerald Turner is acting like a supplicant desperate to land the library and institute, and called on him to negotiate from a position of strength appropriate for an excellent university with which the Bush Library and Institute would benefit from being associated. SMU is now in the national spotlight, and this is our chance to shine.
The George W. Bush Library: Scholarly Mecca or $500 Million Oxymoron?
The New York Times
January 28, 2007
The news reports that President Bush’s representatives seem to be closing in on a deal to put a half-billion-dollar presidential library and policy institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has inspired the predictable lame jokes and references to “The Pet Goat.”
But the project raises issues that are no laughing matter, touching on the writing of history, the university’s scholarly mission, governmental integrity and the rule of law.
S.M.U.’s negotiations regarding Mr. Bush’s library are bound to have a large public impact, which is why I’m hoping that the university’s president, R. Gerald Turner, and members of his board of trustees (presuming Laura Bush, the best-known trustee, has removed herself from the deliberations) can be persuaded to withhold a final go-ahead unless two basic conditions are met.