Prominent Historian Weighs in on Library, Institute Debate

This from Slate — the best analysis of the debate on campus and some of its broader implications that I’ve seen.

George Bush Goes to College
David Greenberg
Slate
January 31, 2007

Universities champion unbiased inquiry. Presidential libraries often include museums that exalt their honorees with selective versions of history. The two have never meshed well. Duke University, where Richard Nixon attended law school (and broke into the dean’s office to see his grades), spurned efforts to build his library there. Ronald Reagan’s people wanted to locate his repository-cum-shrine at Stanford University but got a chilly response. Plans to house the Kennedy Library at Harvard ran aground in the mid-1970s.

Now, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, the alma mater to Laura Welch Bush, is in an uproar over its bid to become the permanent home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Three times in three weeks the faculty has met to debate the subject. According to the campus paper, professors complained loudly, some not wishing to yoke the university’s reputation to a president they considered shameful, others rejecting the plans to host a Bush Foundation-run institute that would fund pro-Bush research. But the university president, R. Gerald Turner, has remained unbowed. Whatever individual professors may think of Bush, he and his supporters say, any archives of presidential documents would be a boon for SMU.

So, who’s right?

Continued here.

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