A fine tribute to professors William McElvaney and Susanne Johnson from today’s Daily Campus.
The honorable opposition
Bill McElvaney and Susanne Johnson are the SMU Persons of the Year
By: The Daily Campus Ed Board
May 4, 2007
The Daily Campus Editorial Board is proud to announce that Bill McElvaney and Susanne Johnson are the SMU Persons of the Year.
Their courage to speak out against the George W. Bush Presidential Library complex triggered the discussion within the SMU community about what the project would do for our school.
Before they submitted an opinion piece to the editorial page, there was no ongoing dialogue about what the library project would mean for SMU. It seemed to be generally accepted that at some point there would be an announcement and everyone would embrace what would happen.
But everything changed on Nov. 10, 2006.
A series of events after the opinion piece was published thrust SMU into the national spotlight. A little more than a month after the piece was published, SMU was announced as the sole finalist in the race for the library. That awkward designation sent the debate into overdrive. (When are we going to find out if we get the library or not? Seriously.)
The faculty of SMU woke up from their slumber and started to talk amongst themselves. People with concerns began bringing up issues before the Faculty Senate. Our own editorial page has been filled with opinion pieces from both sides of the debate the entire semester.
The library debate even had a pop culture moment when the two professors were featured during “The Word” on “The Colbert Report” in January.
But finally, a true debate over the merits of the complex began to take place.
After a few weeks it was whittled down to this question: What is the Bush Institute and how will it fit in to SMU?
This more nuanced approach to the issue allowed for supporters and critics to have a strong, yet professional debate over the topic. The Faculty Senate passed a series of resolutions that were passed on to President Turner and the Board of Trustees.
But McElvaney and Johnson became the face of an honorable opposition to the institute. They penned additional opinion pieces and agreeed to interviews with this paper and many other media organizations.
We give them credit because they never made the debate about themselves. It was always raising questions about what would be best for the school they cared about so much.
They both set good examples for every student on this campus.
Don’t sit on the sidelines if you really care about something. Get involved and make a difference.
They did, and that’s why they are our SMU Persons of the Year.