Former President Bush makes surprise visit to SMU classroom

Former President George W. Bush at SMUThirty SMU students in Professor Harold Stanley‘s American government course got a special lesson Feb. 24 from the man at the pinnacle of political decision-making for the past eight years – the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Stanley, the Geurin-Pettus Professor of American politics and political economy in SMU’s Dedman College, took advantage of the fact that Mr. Bush is back in Dallas to arrange the surprise visit for his class on the American Political System.

When the class was assembled, SMU President R. Gerald Turner walked in the room behind Stanley. Turner said, “Does everyone recognize the 43rd President of the United States?” as Mr. Bush walked in. Students applauded, “but you could tell they were just shocked,” Turner said.

Mr. Bush began his remarks by talking about leadership, Stanley said. “The students were free to ask about anything and everything. They were interested in his plans for the presidential library and institute, his views on the current economic crisis, the stimulus plans, whether he had seen ‘W,’ whether he thought about the framers of the Constitution while he was president, and a wide range of other issues.”

In response to a question about the forthcoming Bush Institute, the former president said he hoped it would promote values such as freedom through speakers, debates and other forums involving people from around the world. He said he hoped young people with various points of view would become involved with the Institute.

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Director named for Bush Library

Alan C. LoweAlan C. Lowe, a veteran of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) who played key roles in planning the libraries of the last two presidents, has been named director of the George W. Bush presidential library. His hiring – a mutual decision between NARA and the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation – was announced Jan. 19.

Lowe began his career with the National Archives in 1989, when he helped assemble records to open Ronald Reagan’s presidential library. He later transferred to the Archive’s Office of Presidential Libraries, where he was a lead adviser on the George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton libraries. For the past six years he has served as founding director of the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News

UMC jurisdiction approves Bush Library land lease

The South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church upheld permission granted SMU to lease land to the George W. Bush Foundation for the Bush Library, Museum and Institute at its quadrennial meeting July 17. In March 2007, SMU received permission for the lease from the Jurisdiction’s Mission Council, which conducts business in between quadrennial meetings. A petition presented to the conference by some delegates sought to overturn that permission, but was defeated.

Read the full statement.

General Counsel Leon Bennett to retire at end of 2008

Leon BennettS. Leon Bennett, SMU’s General Counsel, Vice President for Legal Affairs and Government Relations, and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, will retire from the University effective Dec. 31, 2008. Bennett will work on special projects for SMU during the summer and fall.

In a letter to the SMU community, President R. Gerald Turner wrote, “For 25 years, Leon has led SMU’s Office of Legal Affairs during a time in which legal issues affecting colleges and universities have grown in number and complexity. Typically working behind the scenes, he has handled challenging and sensitive issues with professionalism, discretion and wisdom. As Secretary to the Board of Trustees, he has supported the work of the Board through its restructuring in the late 1980s and continued refinements for greater organizational efficiency.

“As the University has worked to implement its Centennial Master Plan for campus development, Leon has been instrumental in facilitating SMU’s acquisition of nearby property, working closely with the cities of University Park, Highland Park and Dallas on development issues. He has built important relationships as well with the Texas legislature, the U.S. Congress and government agencies on public policy issues affecting higher education in general and SMU in particular. Most recently, he played a critical role in preparations and negotiations for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, helping to craft the detailed and historic documents of SMU’s agreement with the Bush Foundation.

“In all areas of his leadership, Leon’s primary concern has been representing the University’s best interests. Looking at the span of his service – from 1983 to the present – it is not difficult to imagine the range of activity, adaptations, growth and challenges that SMU has experienced. Leon has been there every step of the way as attorney, vice president, corporate officer and trusted colleague.

“I know you will join me in thanking Leon and wishing him well.”

President Turner briefs community on Bush Library agreements

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has shared legal documents outlining details of the George W. Bush Presidential Center to be constructed at SMU. In a briefing Feb. 25 to a near-capacity crowd in Umphrey Lee Ballroom, Turner said that he wanted to address the agreements “as a family,” referring to the briefing and his decision to post the agreements on SMU’s website at

The agreements address topics ranging from academic standards and governance to location and finances. While the library and museum will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, the independent Bush Institute will be part of the George W. Bush Foundation and will be identified accordingly. Requirements governing concurrent appointments and joint programs between SMU and the Institute also are spelled out, as is a commitment to uphold the University’s tradition of academic freedom.

More information on the selection of SMU as home of the Bush Library Center is available from SMU’s home page, as is a webcast of the Feb. 22 announcement. video

Tune In: Bush Library announcement in images

Donald Evans and R. Gerald TurnerTake another look at the Bush Presidential Library signing ceremony with video and a slide show assembled by SMU News. (Right, George W. Bush Foundation Chair Donald Evans and SMU President R. Gerald Turner; photo by Hillsman S. Jackson.)

Watch the video.
See the slideshow.

The SMU Economics Club hosted Elizabeth Wheaton, Economics, and Al Armendariz, Environmental Engineering, for a discussion of North Texas air quality issues. Listen to their podcast: “Hazed and Confused: Making Sense of Our Air Quality Problems,” at SMU’s iTunesU site. Launch iTunes U from SMU’s portal page and click to the Dedman College > Economics Club – Events section. You will need to install iTunes if you don’t have it already – it’s fast and free at

Bush Library reception and information briefing Feb. 25, 2008

To mark Friday’s historic announcement, President R. Gerald Turner invites SMU students, faculty and staff to a celebratory reception and briefing at 3 p.m. Monday, February 25, in the Umphrey Lee Center ballroom.

Dr. Turner will begin his remarks at 3:30 p.m., offering details about the agreement between SMU and the Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

Media should contact SMU News and Communications at 214-768-7650 or for details.

Woodward honored at Fall General Faculty Meeting

Statistical Science Chair Wayne Woodward was honored as the 2006-07 United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year at SMU’s fall General Faculty Meeting Aug. 29. President R. Gerald Turner updated the faculty on important developments in campus life and the status of the George W. Bush presidential library complex. More under the link.

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