From United Methodist Nexus: Another view of yesterday’s meeting

March 15, 2007

SMU Gets Go-Ahead on Bush Complex Lease
Cynthia B. Astle
March 15, 2007

Southern Methodist University was granted permission March 14 to lease campus property to the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation for construction of a library, museum and partisan policy center.

The mission committee of the United Methodist South Central Jurisdiction, in a special meeting held in Dallas solely for this purpose, voted 10-4, with one abstention, in favor of the university’s request. Legally the eight-state jurisdiction, a regional unit of The United Methodist Church, owns most of the SMU campus. The university’s charter requires that it come before the jurisdiction whenever it proposes to sell or lease property for uses not directly related to its operation.

The vote on a resolution granting the SMU board of trustees the right to lease the proposed Bush Library site was taken during an executive session at which some 30 observers were not allowed to be present. Committee chair Jackie Blair said no roll call was taken of the vote and there was no announcement of how individual committee members voted, nor who was the single member who abstained.

Continued here.


A gulf between institutions

March 3, 2007

A gulf between institutions
Schubert Ogden, with a foreword by Susanne Johnson
SMU Daily Campus
March 2, 2007

The prospective coming of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Museum and Institute has prompted us to carry on discourse, public and private, about the nature of liberal arts education and what it means to be a “university.”

It has been my privilege to count among my dialogue partners my esteemed and now retired colleague, Schubert M. Ogden, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theology, and former director of the Graduate Program in Religious Studies. Inasmuch as I found his e-mail writings to be significantly insightful on key facets of the matter before us, especially the Bush Institute, I sought his permission to lift out the mid-section of one particular email, and reproduce it here in The Daily Campus under the affixed title.

Continued here.

Further Arguments Against Bush Institute Made

February 22, 2007

Today’s Daily Campus includes two pieces from different perspectives, both arguing that the Institute in particular is a danger to SMU. Retired statistician Campbell Read argues that the institute will put SMU’s science programs at risk, pointing to what he sees as a long history of Bush administration attacks against scientific findings that it finds inconvenient. SMU alum and retired Perkins theologian Bill McElvaney, a member of one of SMU’s most distinguished and storied families, mounts a vigorous defense of the protest against the Institute, arguing that it “seeks to affirm the university’s motto for the whole campus: ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.'” He takes particular umbrage that ways in which, to him, “[a]dministrative lack of openness has communicated disrespect for the university’s most valuable on-campus assets, namely, faculty, staff and students.” On the other hand, an alum writes to the editor to argue that if “this library and institute are eventually located on the SMU campus, they will do much to bring credit to SMU and the City of Dallas.”

Later today: an interesting perspective on the Library-Institute debate from outside of SMU.

Discussion Continues Spread into Media, Cyberspace

February 18, 2007

Things on campus seem much less intense now, probably because most discussions are now happening behind closed doors. Consider the last two Faculty Senate meetings — no announcements of the meetings were made to the faculty as a whole, no agendas distributed, no meeting place set, no announcements about the decisions issued, no copy of the resolutions passed provided. And this at what is clearly an important turning point in the history of SMU.

Nonetheless, people across the country and locally continue to take notice and weigh in on things. Nearly 1,000 United Methodists signed a petition calling for the Highland Park United Methodist Church, located right by SMU, to revoke George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s membership unless they “repent” of their violations of United Methodist teachings. I suppose this is the Methodist equivalent of excommunication.

Writing in a United Methodist publication, Perkins School of Theology faculty member acknowledged that the arguments against the Institute were stronger than those against the Library, but insisted that the Institute would still be good for SMU. Another commentator returned attention to the donor base for the library and to the question of what policy measures the Institute would advance. The Communist Party’s newspaper, The People’s Weekly World — whose influence, I suppose one could say, isn’t what it used to be — ran a thorough account of the debate written by a local party member. Should I be surprised that there are real live communists in Dallas — this is the city that the late Molly Ivins once quipped “would have rooted for Goliath.”

In a more humorous vein, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster penned an imaginative preview of what the library exhibit might look like — unlikely to change any minds on the subject, but a great piece of political satire.

And finally, Source Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, has established a page for the library.

Bush library puts backs up

February 16, 2007

Bush library puts backs up
Pat Ashworth
Church Times
February 16, 2007

The proposed siting of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, United States, has brought a storm of protest from a group of United Methodist bishops, clergy, and supporters across the country. They argue that it would provide a platform for conservative advocacy, and amount to an endorsement of the Iraq war.

More than 10,000 objectors have signed a petition against the proposal to build the library, museum, and policy institute on the campus of the private university, which has 11,000 students.

Alumni include the President’s wife, Laura Bush, who is on the board of trustees. The university’s emergence as the sole finalist in January, said to have been chosen by a team of President Bush’s confid-ants, prompted the protest.

The petition says: “As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of [Mr Bush’s] presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate.”

Continued here.

Debate Rolls on and on . . .

February 7, 2007

Today the Dallas Morning News reported on the University Park hearing. The Daily Campus was dominated by Library-Institute matters. One of my senior colleagues in the history department mounted a vigorous defense of the Institute , concuding that “SMU will not be judged or tarnished by a Bush think tank unless its faculty abandons research for politics and leaves the think tank to play the only research game on the Hilltop. Two students editorialized on behalf of the Library and Institute. A writer identifying herself as a granddaughter, niece and cousin of Methodist ministers urged SMU President R. Gerald Turner not to accept the Library, “[i]n the name of Methodism and in the name of Christianity.” The paper also ran its own story on the University Park hearing.

Beyond SMU and Dallas, the debate was all over the blogosphere. The Daily Kos weighed in on the matter. Another blog, entitled “How the Neocons Stole Freedom,” contrasted the two Methodist petition campaigns. An editorialist from the Institute for Religion and Democracy vigorously backed the Library and Institute, concluding that the debate demonstrates “how the religious and academic left, which are too often unwilling to engage in robust debate, simply want to eradicate any possibility of dissent.”

Voices of the petition — SMU alumni

February 6, 2007

As of February 5, 2007, the petition started by had been signed by over 10,000 people. A surprising number of those signers, hundreds or even 1000 or more, have identified themselves as SMU alums; so many, in fact, that I wonder if alumni response in snail mail or telephone calls has been at all equivalent. Is anyone listening to their concerns? I post here just a sampling from the petition’s first 5,000 signatures; many more sigs can be viewed here.

123 Tena Hollingsworth My husband and I are alums of the SMU School of Law and we are a appalled at this. We will never give another dime to the school if this “library” is built there. It is a travesty.

225 Tyson Ervin I am a former student of Southern Methodist University and strongly disagree with this library. SMU’s name will forever be tarnished and will be cut off from valuable contributions of individuals in prominent positions around the world. On a personal note, I will not be as quick to tell people that I went to SMU and my school pride will be diminished as the majority of the public will find this an embarrassment for the school.

401 Mack Fulton Harrell As a graduate of SMU, I cannot voice my protest against this egregious bit of pandering too loudly. NO! NO! NO! TEN-THOUSAND TIMES NO!

404 Elizabeth Moseley No affiliation – severely lapsed Catholic but thinks Methodists are OK. I attended SMU and received my diploma from there. I don’t want my expensive education to be devalued because of this library. George Bush is -and history will bear out – a lying, psychopathic, murderous bastard. He should be impeached for lying to the world about Iraq. Why would SMU or ANY institution of higher learning want to be associated with him?

533 Katherine Blanchard Methodist. and SMU MA, Art History, 2005. I do not believe that the majority of faculty nor alumnae support the Bush Presidency as much as Dallas and SMU would like you to believe. As a Methodist I also agree that the linking of the religion with the standards of conduct undertaken by the current administration lends a unwelcome comparison and assumed support.

562 Cynthia J Gwinn United Methodist I am an alumnus and former employee of SMU and I also object in the strongest terms possible to this affiliation. George W. Bush, his policies and his actions as President, do not represent my university.

752 Lamar White United Methodist. My father, grandfather, two uncles, and two aunts are all SMU graduates. My sister is a current SMU junior, and I am a graduate of the Cox School Summer Business Institute.

1285 Michael McGee As an SMU Alumni member I’m ashamed that my alma mater would consider supporting the creation of a Bush Library on the campus. Gerald Turner has made amazing progress with the university becoming a part of the larger community – this would be a step back to be affiliated so closely with the failed policies of President Bush.

1562 Christopher Ainsworth Methodist. I am a third generation SMU graduate and very opposed to the affiliation with the Bush Library

1699 Roy D. Rinkle S.M.U. graduate 1958 Harvard University rejected the location of the J.F.K. Library on its campus because of the traffic and congestion. University Park is just as vulnerable as Cambridge. S.M.U. should not be associated with the Bush Library. It will demean the reputation of the University forever and insult the pride we feel for our Alma Mater. Submitted with great respect for the leadership of Dr. Gerald Turner and appreciation for the influence A.M.U. has had on me.

1941 Sara L. Sanders I am a member of the United Methodist church, and am a graduate of SMU. I do NOT want the Bush Library associated with my alma mater.

1955 Matt Alholm I am not a Methodist but I am a proud SMU alumni. Any petition trying to stop this embarrassment is a good thing. Class of 1996.

2272 David Johnson Not Affiliated with the Church, but I am a graduate of Southern Methodist University with a 2001 BA and a 2004 JD. Associating SMU, or any University in the United States with President George Bush is a step backwards in this nation’s treatment of personal liberty and freedoms. President Bush should not be so honored at SMU.

2319 Michael Crane Graduate of SMU. Class of 1978. Had 3 of 4 siblings attend/graduate SMU. The fact that SMU is considering spending one penny on a horrible president, George Bush, is a slap in the face to every person who ever attended the school. I will never give another dollar to SMU if this library goes through. George Bush is an embarrassment to the nation and the world. SMU will be bringing disgrace upon its name if it gets the library. Bush stands for precisely the opposite of what any caring, thoughtful person believes. SMU will be the laughing stock of universities if the library goes through. DO NOT DO IT!!!!

2411 Dwight McAnally Methodist.. I hold two degrees from SMU and hate to see this wonderful universilty sullied by association with a man who thinks he’s above the law.

2456 Benjamin van der Wel No affiliation, but SMU Class of 1988. As an alumnus I object to the establishment of this library at SMU for the same reasons as the Methodist Church — such a library would be incompatible with SMU’s mission, history and future.

2599 Anton Skowronski I’m not affiliated with the church, however, I am an alumni of S.M.U. (class of 97). It would be sad if the university choose to be forever tied to a closed minded, secretive, faliure of a presidency. It would not represent the diverse education that I recieved. It would be a stain on the university’s image.

609 Barry J. Cochran Polk Street United Methodist Church, Amarillo, Texas As a former University Scholar at SMU, I am extremely distressed to have our great university associated with the disturbing Bush legacy. Once built, the library cannot be demolished, and history will judge neither Bush nor his associates kindly.

3619 Gene Richardson Why would SMU want to honor a President that will go down in history as the one man that has taken away over two hundred years of progress for the USA? What a terrible way to treat your Alum…..MLA 76

783 Rae H. Stoll, Ph.D. As a graduate of SMU (M.A., 1965) and former instructor of English there, I find the prospect that the University may become the home of the Bush library and a right-wing think tank profoundly disturbring. The Methodist church, through the university, should not appear to welcome–and therefore to sanction–an administration so deeply mired in unconstitutional and immoral behavior as is this administration. I have always considered SMU my ethical home. Associating itself with the administration of G. W. Bush would be a betrayal of what I learned and taught there.

Read many more alumni protests from the Protect SMU Petition.