My colleague and fellow History professor Alexis McCrossen researched the history of the Harvard IOP, and makes some important points below. If SMU accepts the Bush Institute as proposed, it will be agreeing to a fundamentally different relationship than any other American university, to my knowledge, has with a think-tank. Other outfits, like Harvard’s IOP and Stanford’s Hoover Center, report to the university governance structure and have been subjected to administration and faculty pressure to make themselves more academic and representative of more than a narrow range of political perspectives. Yet neither SMU’s administration nor its faculty senate (at least as yet) has shown any willingness to press the issue. Here is McCrossen’s introduction:
First, Harvard President Nathan Pusey insisted on Harvard oversight ofthe Institute, which at first the Kennedy people did not wish for. Second, Pusey insisted that the Institute be bi-partisan in activities and purpose. Third, after a short time of operation the Institute was accused of being a finishing school for Kennedy Democrats, an accusation that tarnished its and Harvard’s reputation.
In reading the history of the IOP, I am struck by the similarities between the proposal for the Bush Institute and the initial plans for the memorial to President Kennedy. It is somewhat curious that in all the debate swirling on and off SMU’s campus, no one has mentioned the IOP. I wonder why.
Although the page is lengthy, I urge you to read it.