Southern Methodist University Chosen for Bush Library Site

Southern Methodist University Chosen for Bush Library Site

The board of trustees of Southern Methodist University unanimously approved an agreement with the George W. Bush Library Foundation February 22 to locate the presidential library and policy institute on the campus.

The agreement, which followed more than a year of negotiations, states that SMU was chosen over seven other competitors for 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 the land for the project.

The three-part presidential center will comprise the presidential library, a museum with permanent and traveling exhibits, and an independent public policy institute. The first two components will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.

“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 R. Gerald 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 extent of access to the library’s resources remained unclear on the day of the announcement: An October 2007 judicial ruling invalidated part of President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order 13233, which had given former presidents, their heirs, and former vice presidents the right to review executive records indefinitely before they are made public. The Presidential Records Act of 2007, which would rescind Executive Order 13233 altogether, is being blocked from full Senate consideration by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).

Methodist clergy and members opposed to President Bush’s policies have attempted to block the library by claiming that the agreement must be submitted to the elected delegates of the church’s South Central Jurisdiction, which owns the university. But SMU officials said they had already obtained the church’s approval through the jurisdiction’s Mission Council and College of Bishops, the New York Times reported January 30.

Posted on February 22, 2008. Discuss.