The dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday, April 25, brought members of the prestigious so-called Presidents’ Club to SMU.
President Barack Obama joined former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to dedicate the new Bush Center.
- Watch a slideshow of the dedication.
- Read about students’ experiences as interns at the Bush Presidential Center.
The event drew more than 10,000 invited guests, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other former heads of state. More than 500 members of the SMU community watched the simulcast in McFarlin Auditorium or at an outdoor viewing screen.
In his remarks, Bush thanked SMU, noting that President R. Gerald Turner runs “a fantastic university.” He said SMU students are “awesome,” drawing cheers from students in the audience.
President Obama remarked that the dedication was a “Texas-sized party.” He said all former presidents are a “support group,” and noted Bush’s “incredible strength and resolve” after the attacks of 9-11. Referring to what all former presidents have in common, he said, “We all love this country and we do our best.”
Located on a 23-acre site on the east side of campus, the Bush Center houses the Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute. The Library and Museum will open to the public May 1.
The Bush Center has designated Monday, April 29, as a special library visitation day for SMU faculty, staff and students.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will be the 13th such resource in the nation operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency. The George W. Bush Institute, an independent public policy organization, reports to the Bush Foundation. All three occupy a 226,565-square-foot-building surrounded by grounds featuring Texas prairie landscaping.
“The Bush Library and Museum is a state-of-the-art research center for historians, scholars, students and the public,” said Alan Lowe, Director of the Library and Museum. “We will provide in-depth access to presidential materials and the presidential decision-making process.”
The archives and artifacts of the George W. Bush Administration include 80 terabytes of digital information, more than 200 million e-mails and more than 43,000 artifacts.
The George W. Bush Institute focuses on programs and research resulting in action in the areas of education reform, global health, economic growth and human freedom. Through its Women’s Initiative, the Institute addresses the needs and opportunities of women as agents of change in society. Its Women’s Fellowship program has an initial focus on empowering women of the Middle East. The Institute’s military initiative honors U.S. servicemen and women and their families.
“The resources of the Bush Center will provide unique learning experiences for our students, as well as research opportunities for our faculty and scholars around the world,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few students have the privilege of attending college with the historic resources of a Presidential Library on their campus, and the Bush Presidency represents a unique time in the nation’s history. We’re grateful that President and Mrs. Bush chose SMU to host these resources, which also provide great benefits to our region. Thanks to the Bush Center, SMU and Dallas will become even more of a destination for educational and cultural resources.”
The Bush Center’s impact on SMU already has been significant. Active since 2010, the Bush Institute has been holding symposia in SMU’s Collins Executive Education Center while the Bush Center has been under construction. The Institute has sponsored 12 symposia attracting more than 2,500 participants from around the world and involving faculty and students in related disciplines. Various SMU schools and centers have co-sponsored Bush Institute programs, are engaging in joint research projects or have made concurrent appointments of Institute Fellows to the SMU faculty. Global health scholar Eric G. Bing has joined the SMU faculty as professor of global health in a concurrent appointment with the George W. Bush Institute, SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
In addition, several faculty members have invited the former president to speak to their classes, and more than 100 students have served as interns at Bush Center offices. When C-SPAN visited campus in 2011 to interview the 43rd President of the United States, 75 merit scholarship students served as the audience and asked questions of the former President.
SMU was selected as the site of the Bush Center in February 2008 after competing with six other institutions. The former president has said that he wanted his Library, Museum and Institute to be associated with a distinguished national university. SMU also has the benefit of being well-situated in Dallas, a major metropolitan area in the heartland of the nation.
“We look forward to being a vibrant part of the greater SMU campus and continuing the service of President and Mrs. Bush through the work of the George W. Bush Institute,” said Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation.