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

Laura Bush

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.

April 21, 2010|Calendar Highlights, News|

Laura Bush unveils plans for Presidential Center

Laura Bush with Bush Presidential Center modelFormer First Lady Laura Bush visited the SMU campus Nov. 18 to unveil architectural and landscaping designs for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The following account comes courtesy of The George W. Bush Presidential Center:


DALLAS–Mrs. Laura W. Bush, Architect Robert A. M. Stern and Landscape Architect Matthew Urbanski today unveiled the design of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a modern brick and limestone structure that complements the American Georgian character of the SMU campus, set within a low-maintenance, quintessentially Texas landscape.

The light-filled building is both presidential and welcoming, includes elements that evoke both Texas and Washington, and will house the three components of the George W. Bush Presidential Center: an Archive, a Museum and a policy Institute.

“I applaud the work of Robert Stern and Michael Van Valkenburgh in designing a building and landscape that will capture the dignity of the office of the Presidency, while at the same time being warm and welcoming to visitors,” President George W. Bush said. “Laura and I are thrilled with the plans.”

“The building and landscape evoke elements of the full span of George and Laura Bush’s life and service, from their ranch in Crawford to the White House, and help us share the story of a couple committed to public service based on the core principles of freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion,” said Mark Langdale, President of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

Artist rendering of the Bush Presidential Center“The George W. Bush Presidential Center reflects a unique design that is appropriate in representing the first U.S. President of the 21st Century,” said R. Gerald Turner, President of Southern Methodist University. “At the same time, it reflects major components of SMU’s Collegiate Georgian architectural tradition of nearly 100 years. As a modern expression of our heritage, this facility will be a welcome addition to the stately buildings and grounds that make the SMU campus a special place for learning,” Turner said.

The building and landscape are designed to achieve LEED platinum certification and include numerous sustainable design strategies, including locally sourced building materials (several types of Texas limestone, stained pecan interior paneling), 20 percent recycled materials, solar hot water panels, native landscaping to reduce irrigation and a storm-water management system that conveys, cleanses and collects surface runoff and roof rainwater, and will provide 50 percent of the irrigation needed for the site.

The building and landscape are integrated, with numerous links between indoor and outdoor spaces. Visitors to the museum will enter the building through Freedom Hall, a large, light-filled open space that will tie the different aspects of the museum experience together. On one side of Freedom Hall, visitors will be able to tour the Museum’s permanent exhibit, which will include a replica of the Oval Office as it was during President Bush’s tenure, complete with an outdoor Texas Rose Garden that mimics the proportion and scale of the White House Rose Garden. The Museum will tell the story of the presidency by examining key decisions and the core principles that defined President Bush’s service: freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion.

The opposite side of Freedom Hall will house the temporary exhibit space, a ceremonial courtyard and a café. The Institute portion of the building will include a conference center with a 364-seat auditorium with simultaneous translation and broadcast capabilities, along with numerous offices for scholars and a presidential suite for receptions and other functions. The Institute will have its own entrance on axis with Binkley Avenue. The Archives will be the home for the official documents and artifacts of the Bush administration, where they will be presented to the public for study and discussion.

The landscape will be an attraction in and of itself, with seasonable displays in the wildflower meadow, large tree-shaded lawns for sitting, picnicking or playing, numerous gardens and courtyards, tall grass prairie with seasonal wildflowers, and savannah and woodland clearings that provide a range of native habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife species.

The landscape will function as an urban park that will engage a broad range of users, including library and special event visitors, SMU students, faculty and staff and the University Park community. It provides numerous spaces for events and gatherings, including performances in the outdoor amphitheater and intramural sports on the west lawn.

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, is a 220-person firm of architects, interior designers, and supporting staff. The firm is dedicated to the idea that architecture must engage in a conversation across time, connecting the present and future with the past. Robert A.M. Stern Architects brings to the design of the George W. Bush Presidential Center significant experience with the planning and design of museums that present a contemporary architectural response to the legacy of an important American cultural figure, including the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, Massachusetts; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York; and the Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. Stern, practicing architect, teacher, and writer, is Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal from the Municipal Art Society of New York in 2009 and the tenth Vincent Scully Prize from the National Building Museum in 2008. In 2007 he received both the Athena Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Board of Directors’ Honor from the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America. Joining Mr. Stern in the design effort were partners Augusta Barone, Alexander P. Lamis, and Graham S. Wyatt, and project architect Jim Pearson.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects (MVVA) is known across North America and internationally for innovative landscapes that address contemporary social and environmental issues while also achieving, as with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a timeless style that appeals to a broad range of the American public. Founded in 1982, MVVA has received numerous awards and previously worked with First Lady Laura Bush on the redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Michael Van Valkenburgh was the 2003 recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Environmental Design and is a 1988 winner of the prestigious American Academy in Rome Prize. He has taught both full and part time at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design since 1982. The key senior staff members working on the Library with Michael are firm Principals, Laura Solano and Matthew Urbanski, and Herb Sweeney, Associate and Project Manager.

Mrs. Laura W. Bush chaired the design committee for the Bush Presidential Center. Members of the committee included: Roland Betts, Founder and Chairman of Chelsea Piers, L.P.; The Honorable Mark Langdale, President, George W. Bush Foundation; Deedie Rose, Philanthropist; Witold Rybczynski, Martin & Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism and Professor of Real Estate, University of Pennsylvania; Sidney J. Sanders, Vice President, Facilities and Construction, The Methodist Hospital System; and R. Gerald Turner, President, Southern Methodist University.

The Presidential Center will be located at Southern Methodist University, five miles north of downtown Dallas. It will occupy a 23.11-acre site on the main campus, near the corner of SMU Boulevard and North Central Expressway (U.S. Highway 75). The site is near a light rail station.


Find more links and media coverage from SMU News
Learn more about LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council
Visit the George W. Bush Presidential Center website

November 19, 2009|News|

Former President Bush defines focus of new institute

Laura and George W. BushFormer President George W. Bush told an SMU audience Nov. 12 that the George W. Bush Institute will focus on education, global health, human freedom and economic growth. The Institute will be part of the Bush Presidential Center, which will include the presidential library and museum.

Construction on the center will begin in fall 2010, but the institute’s first initiatives are under way with the selection of key leaders and plans for conferences beginning this spring.

“The Institute will be a vital hub of critical thought and practical action,” Bush told about 1,500 SMU faculty, students, staff and presidential library donors at McFarlin Auditorium. “It will be independent, nonpartisan and designed to make an impact in the world.”

The Institute first will focus on education reform, beginning with the appointment of nationally renowned education scholar James Guthrie to serve as the institute’s director of education policy studies; he will serve as senior fellow at the institute. Simultaneously, SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development announced that he will hold a concurrent appointment as professor in the school, the first such appointment to be made between SMU and the Bush Institute.

Guthrie is currently Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy and director of the Peabody Center for Education Policy at Vanderbilt University. He joins the Institute and the University on Jan. 1, 2010

Sandy Kress, national education leader and former Dallas Independent School District board chair, also will serve as education fellow at the Institute, directing education policy development and outreach.

Guthrie and Kress will lead a national education conference in March 2010 on education leadership, policy and school reform.

In addition, as part of the Bush Institute’s focus on economic growth, including energy independence, the institute will partner with the Maguire Energy Institute in Cox School of Business to host an April 2010 conference focused on the benefits of natural gas production in the United States.

In the area of global health, Bush announced the appointment of Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 to 2009, as the institute’s first global health fellow. Dr. Dybul will retain his position as distinguished scholar at Georgetown University. In both capacities he will research strategies to provide comprehensive health services to mothers, newborns and children in impoverished African and Asian countries.

“This is an area where research is urgently needed,” Bush said. “I’ve charged Mark with saving as many lives as quickly as possible.”

The institute will support human freedom with the creation of the Freedom Collection, a repository of video, oral and written histories documenting freedom movements around the world. The collection will serve as a resource for scholars, activists and policymakers interested in studying the advance of human liberty, Bush said.

“With the Freedom Collection, we will continue our legacy of supporting advocates for freedom around the world,” Bush said.

Oscar Morales Guevara will serve as the institute’s fellow in human freedom. He launched an international Internet movement in 2008 with fellow Colombians against the narco-terrorist network known as FARC.

Within all four areas of focus, the Bush Institute will integrate the involvement of women and social entrepreneurs. In remarks following those of her husband, former First Lady Laura Bush, who will lead the institute’s women’s initiative, said, “Research shows that when you educate and empower women, you improve nearly every aspect of society.”

The Institute will be home to the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, which will focus on literacy efforts at early- and adult-education levels for women in the United States and Afghanistan. The council plans a March conference on Afghan literacy.

“Education, global health, freedom and economic growth are areas that have been important to President and Mrs. Bush since President Bush first sought office as governor and then president,” said Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation Board of Directors. “The purpose of the institute is to expand on these principles.”

Bush ended by pledging that “together, the Bush Presidential Center and SMU will help this campus continue to grow as a great university. We will be a constructive member of a vibrant Dallas community. And we will contribute to the national dialogue in a positive way for years to come. We are proud to call SMU home.”

Read more from SMU News
Watch the video from the Nov. 12 announcement video
Visit the official George W. Bush Presidential Center website

November 17, 2009|News|

Iraqi women meet with former President and Mrs. Bush at SMU

Former President and Mrs. Bush with Iraqi women at SMUFormer President George W. Bush and Laura Bush met with eight Iraqi women at SMU on May 14 as part of the delegation’s visit to the United States under the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

The exchange, which included several U.S. cities, was coordinated by World Learning Visitor Exchange Program in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. The women are officials in Iraq representing professions ranging from public works administration to nursing education.

Several SMU faculty members attended the event – Crista DeLuzio of the Clements Department of History and Carolyn Smith-Morris of the Department of Anthropology, both in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Maria Minniti, Cox School of Business; Jenia Turner, Dedman School of Law; and Susanne Scholz, Perkins School of Theology. SMU student Natalie Kashefi also attended. Gail Turner, wife of SMU President R. Gerald Turner, hosted a reception for the group; and Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs, was among those welcoming the delegation to campus.

The World Affairs Council was represented by its president, Jim Falk, and executive vice president Beth Huddleston, who also serves as a member of the board of the National Council for International Visitors. The Council serves as the Department of State’s coordinator of the International Visitor Leadership Program in Dallas and Fort Worth.

“Both President and Mrs. Bush spoke about the vital role women play in building and maintaining civil society and about how essential the guarantee of women’s rights is to a healthy democracy,” said DeLuzio. “The Iraqi women spoke eloquently about their courageous attempts to empower women and to further women’s rights in their country.

“I teach about the long and ongoing struggle for gender equality in the United States. This exchange inspired me to try to do more to educate my students about women’s movements around the world and to encourage them to think comparatively about women’s work on behalf of social justice and gender equality across time and place.”

Read more and see additional photos from SMU News

May 27, 2009|News|

Laura Bush delivers SMU’s 94th Commencement address

laura-bush-16may2009-sm.ashx.jpeg Former First Lady Laura Bush, who gave the commencement address at Southern Methodist University on Saturday, May 16, told the more than 1,900 degree recipients that “you won’t waste your talent and education if you use them in service to others.”

Interrupted numerous times by applause from the crowd that packed SMU’s Moody Coliseum, she said, “As much as any generation of Americans, the Class of 2009 is tasked with resolving challenges that lie far beyond your doorstep, even far beyond America’s borders.

“Between cellphones and the Internet, you have a world of information literally at your fingertips. And because our world is so small, you can’t ignore the genocide in Darfur or the recent brutal treatment of democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. You know the plight of children orphaned by AIDS in Africa.

commencement2009-05.jpg “Today begins a period of incredible liberty and adventure, a time to find your calling and to demand the most of life before life makes specific demands on you,” she said during a speech that lasted about 14 minutes.

Read more from SMU News
Watch a video of Mrs. Bush’s speech video
Read the text of Mrs. Bush’s speech

See slideshows of the weekend’s ceremonies and celebrations:

Baccalaureate slide show
Lining up for Commencement slide show
Scenes from Commencement slide show
Mrs. Bush at Commencement slide show
Celebrating after Commencement slide show

May 19, 2009|News|
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