Former president, First Lady to receive Tower Center Medal of Freedom

Laura and George W. BushFormer President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush (’68) will each receive the Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College during formal ceremonies April 21, 2010. The Medal of Freedom is presented every two years to an individual, or individuals, who have furthered the cause of freedom throughout the world.

“During one of the most challenging times in the nation’s history, President and Mrs. Bush worked tirelessly to promote freedom initiatives throughout the world, and they continue those efforts through programs at the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are proud to present them with the Tower Center Medal of Freedom.”

The Tower Center supports teaching and research programs in international and domestic politics with an emphasis on global studies and national security policy. Additionally, it educates undergraduates in international relations, comparative politics and political institutions.

The Tower Center Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have contributed to the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity. This year’s event chairs are Gene Jones, Linda Gibbons and Nancy Halbreich.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell received the first Tower Center Medal of Freedom in 1997. Other recipients include former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former President George H. W. Bush, General Tommy R. Franks (U.S.A., Ret.), U.S. Senator John McCain and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Tower Center Medal of Freedom event is the largest fundraiser for the Tower Center. The Center sponsors several conferences a year, works with other international organizations such as the Dallas Council on World Affairs, and supports faculty research and travel. Each year the Tower Center Board of Directors awards undergraduate fellowships to SMU students interested in studying in Washington, D.C., or in U.S. embassies abroad. Another Tower Center program places SMU students in summer internships in the U.S. State Department.

“President and Mrs. Bush honor not only the Tower Center and SMU by accepting this award, but also the late Sen. John Tower,” said James Hollifield, director of the Tower Center and professor of political science. “Security, prosperity and human freedom – ideals important to Sen. Tower – were marks of their tenure in the White House.”

The Tower Center was established in memory and honor of former U.S. Sen. John Tower, who earned a master’s degree in political science from SMU in 1953. He also taught in the Political Science Department after his retirement from the Senate. Tower represented Texas in the U.S. Senate from 1961 to 1985. He served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and, after retiring from the Senate, as U.S. strategic nuclear arms negotiator with the Soviet Union in Geneva. He died in 1991.

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