Just as the Methodist Church partnered with Dallas to bring the tremendous resource of a major university to the city, so did SMU and DFW constituents in working together to bring the George W. Bush Presidential Center to Dallas.
George W. Bush Presidential Center groundbreaking
SMU successfully competed against six other proposed sites to host the center. A key factor in SMU's selection was its convenient location near downtown Dallas and its close relationship with the region's leadership. SMU is among only seven universities to house a presidential center and becomes part of a trio of presidential libraries in Texas – the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library at The University of Texas at Austin and the George H.W. Bush Library at Texas A&M University at College Station.
The center, which will enhance the visibility of SMU and Dallas on the world stage, will be an invaluable new resource for research, dialogue and public programming. The center will attract tourists, students, scholars, dignitaries and media – many of them experiencing the considerable attributes of DFW for the first time. It is projected that the center will attract more than 450,000 visitors – more than half from outside Texas – in its first year. The economic, educational and cultural impact of the center will be substantial for Dallas and the region as well as for SMU.
The center will consist of a library, a museum and an institute located on a 24-acre site on the SMU campus.
The Library will hold the historical records of the presidency – 27,000 cubic feet of textual materials (or more than 68 million pages), in addition to audiovisual materials, photographs, artifacts and electronic data.
The Museum will have 14,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space and 500 square feet for temporary exhibits. The museum will be organized according to four themes important to the Bushes: Compassion, Opportunity, Responsibility and Freedom. It will include a full-size replica of the Oval Office.
The Institute sponsors research and dialogue resulting in action promoting global health, education, human freedom and economic growth. Even though the Presidential Center building is under construction, the Bush Institute has been active for the past two years with symposia and other initiatives held at SMU on topics ranging from education to energy.
Through joint programs and concurrent appointments of faculty and fellows between the University and the institute, experts in areas such as global health, education and the economy will enhance educational opportunities for SMU students, the entire DFW community and non-local visitors.