SMU Philosophy Prof Weighs in on Institute

This is the most extended and informed discussion of the question of the Bush Institute to date.

Universities, think tanks, and the advancement of knowledge
Steve Sverdlik
SMU Daily Campus
January 31, 2007

Everyone on campus is now aware that many faculty members, students and alumni are concerned about certain features of the proposed Bush Presidential Library complex at SMU. Much of the discussion by the faculty has come to focus on the Bush Institute, as distinct from the library and its associated museum. The concerns are valid: a think tank like the Bush Institute will trade on our reputation, but not abide by our standards. We have reason to worry, therefore, that it will tarnish our reputation.

The current plan is to have the Bush Institute form an association with SMU. At one time, SMU proposed to establish a Bush School of Public Affairs that would be part of our university and under the authority of our chief academic officer, the provost. But the current plan envisions an institute, not a school. The Bush Institute may describe itself as being “of” SMU, or “at” SMU, or something else. But whatever the terminology, the Institute will in truth be a separate entity, having its own board of trustees, endowment, director and staff. Most importantly, it will have its own set of guidelines for its activities. While there may be a representative of SMU on its board, its operations will not in any way be overseen or controlled by our university or our provost.

Continued here.

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