More than 3,000 guests filled a massive tent on the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on November 16 to celebrate groundbreaking for the building. Fifteen officials took up shovels to turn dirt, marking the official start of construction, with completion scheduled for 2013.
“Today is another milestone along a timeline that began for us in December 2000, when we began our effort to bring the George W. Bush Presidential Center to the University,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner told the crowd.
“We knew that this Presidential Center would benefit from its association with SMU because of the academic resources, vitality of dialogue and research programs we offer. Having the historic resources of the Library and Museum will provide remarkable opportunities for research … and educational experiences for more than 200,000 K-13 students in the Metroplex,” Turner said.
Former President George W. Bush welcomed the crowd, saying, “To those of you who are not privileged to live in Texas, welcome to the great state. And welcome to one of the finest universities in the whole United States, Southern Methodist.” He said the groundbreaking “is an important milestone” and “the beginning of a journey. We take the first step toward the construction of this presidential center, which will be a dynamic hub of ideas and actions based upon timeless principles.”
Participating in the groundbreaking for the Bush President Center were (shown from left below) David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Ray Hunt, co-chair of the Bush Foundation Finance Committee, SMU trustee and chairman of Hunt Oil Company; Caren Prothro, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees; Alan Lowe, director of the Bush Presidential Library and Museum; Robert Stern, architect for the Bush Presidential Center; R. Gerald Turner, president of SMU; Condoleezza Rice, chair of the Bush Institute Advisory Board and former U.S. Secretary of State; George W. Bush; Laura Bush; Dick Cheney, former U.S. Vice President and former SMU trustee; Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation; Don Evans, co-chair of the Bush Foundation Finance Committee and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Michael Van Valkenburgh, landscape architect for the Bush Presidential Center; the Rev. Mark Craig, SMU trustee and pastor of Highland Park United Methodist Church; and Jake Torres, SMU student body president.