Library Supporters

In the interests of fairness and open debate, I’ll be posting some of the key documents and arguments of library supporters.

Here’s the December 21 announcement from SMU that it is the sole finalist. It lays out the basic rationale.

Here is an outline of SMU President Gerald Turner’s January 17 talk to faculty, in which he responded to concerns and questions raised at the faculty meeting the week before. This is the most thorough statement of why the Library-Museum-Institute are in SMU’s best interest:

Here is the January 17 talk to the faculty by interim Provost TomTunks, who goes on record for his reasons for supporting the library, and offers his sense of what the appropriate lines of debate are. At his request, it is attached in full, including early discussion of other issues at SMU: “Tom Tunks, Provost ad interim, Address to the general faculty

Here’s a piece in the SMU paper by the chairs of the history and political science departments:

Finally, for a much different argument about the library, from a January 18 email to me from a faculty member in another division of SMU, whose name I’ve removed, but whose logic chills me to the bone, see the first posting on this part of the blog.

See also:

The Biggest Man on Campus,” James F. Hollifield, New York Times, January 20, 2007

“All the Presidents’ Libraries,” Stanley Fish, New York Times, January 21, 2007

Faculty should welcome debate with conservatives,” David J. Weber, SMU Daily Campus, January 24, 2007

Let’s not forget the importancce of Religion,” William J. Abraham, SMU Daily Campus, January 25, 2007

Letter to the Editor, SMU Daily Campus, January 25, 2007

Letters to the Editor, Dallas Morning News, January 27, 2007

Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News, January 28, 2007

Student Senate endorses quest for Bush Library,” A. Neely Eisenstein, SMU Daily Campus, January 31, 2007

Letter to the Editor, SMU Daily Campus, January 31, 2007

Answers for a Liberal,” Zachary Upcheshaw, SMU Daily Campus, February 2, 2007

Pro-collaborative think tanks,” Shannon C. Jacuzzi, SMU Daily Campus, February 2, 2007

Policy institute is part most likely to enrich university,” Matthew Wilson, Dallas Morning News, February 5, 2007

Even Bush opponents can gain from library,” Rebekah Miles,, February 5, 2007

The Bush Library: On truth squads and tarnished reputations,” David J. Weber, SMU Daily Campus, February 7, 2007

Library and institute will do more good than harm,” Taylor Russ and Ben Hatch, SMU Daily Campus, February 7, 2007

Not Everyone at SMU Hates Bush,” Mark D. Tooley,, February 7, 2007

Letter to the Editor, SMU Daily Campus, February 8, 2007

The Power of Words:Why I Want the Bush Presidential Library at SMU,” Rebekah Miles, United Methodist Nexus, February 21, 2007

Letter to the Editor, SMU Daily Campus, February 22, 2007

Collaborative think tank could be Bush’s finest legacy,” Shannon C. Jacuzzi, SMU Daily Campus, March 22, 2007

Another Side on Bush Institute,” Carolyn Barta, Dallas Blog, March 21, 2007

Protesting the “Partisan” Bush Library,” Mark D. Tooley,, April 13, 2007

See also the comments from the Protect SMU Petition, here.

4 Responses to Library Supporters

  1. heber4 says:

    Here’s an interesting letter that I received from a colleague in another part of SMU, whose name I have removed. He offers arguments for accepting the library-museum-institute, all of which I find very chilling. (There are real arguments in favor of the library, etc., as I point out.)

    I read your comments in the NYTimes today. Let me remind you that LBJ wasn’t popular when most of us were in college. His administration was partisan and very unpopular. His library has not hurt the reputation of UT. From your resume, I can tell that you were not even born yet. Not that I ever voted for him and personally think that he has not demonstrated astute judgment on many fronts, Turner and key SMU stakeholders want the library. There is an old adage: General decide and soldiers march. Remember that.
    [name removed]

    Here is my response:

    Dear [name removed]:

    Well, yes, but UT is a much bigger place than SMU, and they didn’t turn over their public face to an advocacy institute run by LBJ’s cronies. And LBJ’s stance on classification of documents and secrecy has allowed his library to be a major resources, whereas Bush has already taken steps to ensure that he has unprecedented ability to keep documents secret under executive privilege, even against the wishes of future presidents. As to generals deciding and soldiers marching, this isn’t the army, it’s a university, so we’re not soldiers but faculty. And it’s time to do our jobs.


    And his rejoinder, to which I didn’t bother to reply directly:

    unfortunately, you’ve not been here long enough and I’ve been here too long. Regardless of the time and energy you and others devote to this project, Turner and the Board will go ahead as planned. He will nod his head in agreement, but nothing will happen. It’s really out of his hands. Key stakeholders of the university and donors to SMU and the Republican party have made a decision. As an assistant professor, I would caution you to choose your battles carefully. Scholarship will either keep you here or afford you the opportunity to leave. Championing loosing causes will not keep you here or get you another job. You are a soldier and so am I. You are battling it, while I accept it. After more than 4 decades, I realize that institutional battles are for ‘locals” and not for “cosmopolitans.’ Locals think that recognition is earned by their host institution. Cosmos earn respect from professional colleagues not at their host institution but by their professional colleagues.

  2. David Cole says:

    In response to “Let’s not forget the importance of religion”

    While Professor Abraham’s argument is sound, it doesn’t address the other side of the equation: the resulting implied and reciprocal contract the proposed Bush Library and Institute have with SMU. That contract would appear to say that these Bush institutions have the same commitments to diversity of opinion and independent scholarship. The problem is that the organizers of the Institute have already voiced their lack of interest in both of these values. As reported in Thomas DeFrank’s recent New York Daily News article, the “legacy-polishing” institute, to be called the “Institute for Democracy,” “…will hire conservative scholars and ‘give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President’s policies,’ one Bush insider says.”

    What this appears to indicate is that, unless the Bush Institute lives up to the Methodist and SMU standards of diversity of opinion and independent scholarship, this is a lopsided contract. And, therefore, one that SMU shouldn’t sign.

    David Cole (’82)

  3. David Cole says:

    In response to Cristin Lavelle’s “Letter to the Editor”

    What in the behavior of the Bush Administration in the last six years could lead one to believe that anything coming out of this library and institute will say anything but positives about the Bush Administration? The answer is nothing. If any papers or materials were to reflect negatively on this presidency, you can count on not having access to them. And this is not speculation on my part: Note the Bush Executive Order giving the president and his family representatives the unprecedented ability to restrict access to his papers for as long as they see fit. This library and institute will unquestionably be an unabashed source of administration propaganda.

    David Cole (’82)

  4. Cristin Lavelle says:

    In response to David Cole’s above posting [which references my letter to the SMU Daily Campus Editor] –

    It sounds like you do not believe that George Bush should get a library at all. THAT will never happen. As a US President, he will have a library and it will go to a University. That University is not going to be shamed by the greater academic community for what is or is not available for public examination. The ex-President will.

    Why not be the University that does get to examine the contents? Why are so many complaining that it won’t be a “good enough” library? It is a Presidential Library, which is better than no Presidential Library at all.

    Cristin Lavelle [SMU ’04]

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