Since SMU welcomed the Bush Center, nearly 17,000 Mustangs have visited for free, delving into important topics such as elections, freedom, and humor as a diplomatic tool. They’ve explored permanent and special yearly exhibitions including an exhibit highlighting one-of-a-kind fashion from Oscar de la Renta. These Bush Center exhibitions inspire diverse groups to enact change – illustrated by the special exhibit Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants. The exhibit highlights the American immigrant experience as well as the contributions they make to the life and prosperity of our nation. Through 43 four-color portraits – painted by the president – and their accompanying stories, Out of Many, One reminds us of how America has been strengthened by those seeking a better life. Students have attended forums and Engage at the Bush Center series presented by NexPoint, listening to current and former policymakers, activists and other luminaries discuss global politics. SMU faculty and staff have collaborated with Bush Institute scholars on research, and some lucky Mustangs have had surprise classroom visits from President Bush himself, who fields questions about his time in office with warmth and grace.
The Bush Presidency (2001–2009) spans a period when emerging technology was changing the way members of the administration communicated as paper missives were being replaced by email. The Bush Library houses almost 70 million pages of textual materials, approximately 80 terabytes of electronic records and about 200 million email messages. Other materials include more than 30,000 audiovisual recordings, over 3.8 million photographs and 227 cubic feet of photo negatives.
The Bush Center embodies President and Mrs. Bush’s commitment to conservation and is the first LEED-Platinum New Construction certified presidential library. The building includes numerous environmentally-friendly features, such as more than 20,000 square feet of solar panels, rain water storage for site irrigation, and regionally sourced materials.
The Laura W. Bush Native Texas Park welcomes the SMU campus – and the Dallas community at large – from sunrise to sunset for free to enjoy an urban oasis. A model in sustainability and led by Mrs. Bush’s vision, the Native Texas Park features 15 acres of land that reflects what the site might have looked like centuries ago. Native trees, plants, and water-conserving features make the park drought resistant, minimize the need for irrigation through municipal water sources, and helps important pollinators like butterflies, birds, and bees thrive.
Although located in the same structure as the Bush Library and the Bush Museum, the Bush Institute faces west, toward the SMU campus, a symbolic gesture welcoming academic engagement. The Bush Institute focuses on developing leaders and advancing policy on domestic and global initiatives inspired by the work of President and Mrs. Bush.
When asked about the impact of the Bush Center on SMU, President Bush says, “Well, I can tell you what the impact of SMU is on the Institute and Library. It gives us great credibility to be associated with a fine university.”
At the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s dedication, President Bush outlined his hopes that the Bush Center would promote freedom and democracy worldwide, empower the disenfranchised, help more countries overcome poverty and disease, and stand behind those who have defended our freedoms here at home. A decade later, the Bush Center is achieving those goals.