February 22, 2008
DALLAS (SMU) – The George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation today announced that SMU in Dallas has been chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, consisting of a library, museum and institute.
President Bush said in a letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner: “I look forward to the day when both the general public and scholars come and explore the important and challenging issues our nation has faced during my presidency—from economic and homeland security to fighting terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.”
Meeting Feb. 22 in Dallas, the SMU Board of Trustees unanimously approved an agreement with the Foundation to locate the Center at SMU.
“It’s a great honor for SMU to be chosen as the site of this tremendous resource for historical research, dialogue and public programs,” said SMU President Turner. “At SMU, these resources will benefit from proximity to our strong academic programs, a tradition of open dialogue, experience hosting world leaders and a central location in a global American city. We thank President Bush for entrusting this important long-term resource to our community, and for the opportunity for SMU to serve the nation in this special way.”
“The Foundation is excited to partner with SMU in the development of this important civic institution. We are delighted that it will be in the international city of Greater Dallas and in a city that has played such an important role in the lives of the President and First Lady,” said Don Evans, Chairman of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.
The Presidential Center will be located on the east side of the main SMU campus, adjacent to North Central Expressway (U.S. Highway 75) and SMU Boulevard. This location positions the Center within the context of SMU’s park-like Collegiate Georgian setting—“a major historic university campus,” said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale University School of Architecture and the selected architect for the Bush Presidential Center. The exact location and dimensions will be determined based on design and landscape specifications.
The three-part Presidential Center will consist of the presidential library, containing documents and artifacts of the Bush Administration; a museum with permanent and traveling exhibits; and an independent public policy institute. Once constructed, the library and museum will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The George W. Bush Institute will host officials, scholars and others as fellows for research and symposia. The Institute will be operated independently of SMU by the Bush Foundation and will be identified accordingly. Interactions between SMU and the Institute could include joint programming and concurrent appointments, following the usual procedures and criteria for University appointments, if an Institute fellow qualifies to teach at SMU, or if an SMU faculty member wishes to serve as an Institute fellow. In addition, the agreement between SMU and the Foundation affirms that any relationship between the two will recognize "SMU's commitment to open inquiry and academic freedom within the University."
“At SMU, the George W. Bush Presidential Center will be associated with a university that is on the rise. With this added benefit to an SMU education, we will attract additional outstanding students and faculty,” said Dallas business leader Carl Sewell, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. “Securing this library represents an important step forward in academic achievement for SMU and for our service to Dallas and the nation.”
According to the agreement between SMU and the Foundation, SMU was chosen because of its “excellent academic reputation; the University’s presence in Dallas; the strong support of the University’s leaders, alumni and friends for the Library Center facilities being located at the University”; and SMU’s willingness to lease land for the project.
“The Presidential Library Center will offer unmatched opportunities to interact with officials who have shaped public policy in this era and with scholars who will write its history,” said Gary Evans, professor of electrical engineering, president of the Faculty Senate and SMU Board of Trustees member. “The Center’s resources and programs will be invaluable to national and international researchers and scholars, including those at SMU.”
To facilitate ongoing interaction and collaboration between the University and the Presidential Center, a governance system has been established. The Foundation will be led by a Board of Directors of three to 12 members, elected annually, including two members appointed by SMU. The Institute will be governed by a Board of Directors of from three to nine members, elected annually. If the Institute Board consists of five or fewer members, SMU will appoint one member; if more than five, SMU will have two members. SMU and the Institute also will establish an Academic Advisory Committee with representatives from the University and the Foundation to explore joint programming opportunities.
Fund-raising for the Bush Presidential Center will be conducted by the George W. Bush Foundation through its Organizing Committee and in collaboration with SMU.
“SMU is committed to being supportive of fund-raising for the Bush Library Center, and will work in concert with the Foundation during our upcoming major gifts campaign for endowments supporting students, faculty, academic programs and our unique campus experience,” Turner said. “Working with the fund-raising effort of the Presidential Center will introduce us to new audiences who otherwise would not know about SMU’s strengths and potential.”
SMU was among eight competitors for the Bush Presidential Library project in a process unprecedented in the history of presidential libraries for its depth and inclusiveness. On December 22, 2006, the Library Site Selection Committee announced that it was focusing on SMU for final discussions as the potential site. Since that time Committee members and University representatives have met to work out project details and operating agreements.
SMU’s Board of Trustees Library Committee was co-chaired by President R. Gerald Turner and Ray L. Hunt and also included Board chair Carl Sewell and trustees Jeanne L. Phillips and Michael Boone. The committee consulted regularly with the full Board of Trustees, which includes representatives from the faculty, student body, alumni board and The United Methodist Church.
Approaching 100-year milestones, SMU was founded in 1911 by what is now The United Methodist Church, and opened in 1915. SMU is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom.
“The United Methodist tradition in higher education values open dialogue and diverse opinions as we debate the great issues of our time within the context of our faith community,” said Bishop Scott Jones, president of the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church and an SMU trustee. “The Presidential Library Center will be a unique resource for that inquiry. It will enhance SMU’s strong commitment to the Wesleyan tradition of academic excellence. In addition, we are pleased to welcome President and Mrs. Bush, two members of The United Methodist Church, back to the Dallas community.”
SMU is a private institution with seven degree-granting schools in the humanities and sciences; engineering; performing, visual and communication arts; business; education and human development; law; and theology. SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students from all 50 states and nearly 90 foreign countries. Minority students make up about 21 percent of the student body.
Located five miles north of downtown Dallas, the main SMU campus consists of 76 buildings on 210 acres. A light rail station is nearby, and library construction plans include parking for at least 400 vehicles. In addition to the main campus in Dallas, the University offers programs at SMU-in-Legacy in Plano north of Dallas, and at a campus near Taos, New Mexico.
The University has a history of hosting national and world leaders for lectures and other campus events. These have included former and sitting U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, ambassadors and heads of state.
SMU has about 100,000 alumni worldwide, with about 40,000 located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Home to more than five million residents, the Dallas Metroplex attracts about 25 million visitors a year and an additional 3.5 million annually for conventions. The central city is enjoying a cultural renaissance with new museums and performing arts venues constructed or in progress. The Metroplex is served by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which accommodates 59 million passengers a year, and Love Field, serving six million passengers annually and located only 15 minutes from the SMU campus.
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