SMU Libraries honor Laura Bush for contributions to literacy

Laura W. BushFormer First Lady Laura W. Bush will receive SMU’s Literati Award for her contributions to the advancement of literacy. The award will be presented April 2, 2011, at SMU’s Collins Executive Education Center by the Friends of the SMU Libraries.

Mrs. Bush will receive the award at the Friends of the SMU Libraries annual fundraising dinner, Tables of Content. Award-winning journalist Rena Pederson will lead a conversation with Mrs. Bush at the event, which also will feature book signings with ten promising young authors. Kathleen Kent, author of The Hereti’s Daughter and The Wolves of Andover; Jennifer Pickens, author of Christmas at the White House, and 10-year-old Alec Greven, author of How to Talk to Girls and School Rules are among the featured authors.

Mrs. Bush, a 1968 SMU graduate and current member of the University’s Board of Trustees, has championed the importance of literacy and education throughout her life, particularly during her years as a teacher, librarian and as first lady of Texas and of the United States. From advocating for the rights of Afghan women to creating the National Book Festival, she presents a consistent message – the ability to read is life-changing.

Soon after arriving in Washington, D.C., as First Lady, Mrs. Bush launched an early childhood development initiative – Ready to Read, Ready to Learn – which helps parents and caregivers prepare infants and young children for success in reading and school. In 2002 she created the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, which has provided more than $7.3 million to school libraries in all 50 states.

Mrs. Bush has served as Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade since 2003. In 2006 Mrs. Bush hosted the first White House Conference on Global Literacy. Last September she addressed the International Literacy Day Symposium at the United Nations in New York. “Education is our most urgent priority. And it should have the highest call on our time and our priorities,” she said.

Expanding access to education and literacy is a central component of Mrs. Bush’s work as chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. The initiative is designed to enhance women’s access to education, literacy, health and economic opportunities.

Mrs. Bush also has supported writers and readers through the 1995 creation of the Texas Book Festival. She joined with the Library of Congress in 2001 to create the National Book Festival. She also is co-author with her daughter Jenna of a children’s book, Read All About It!

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Calendar Highlights: March 1, 2011

Robert Richardson Jr.Cars fighting cancer: SMU alumnus and NASCAR driver Robert Richardson Jr. (pictured) will make an appearance at the kickoff for one of the biggest student-driven programs on the Hilltop. At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 1 at the Main Quad flagpole, the 2004 graduate and current driver of the No. 37 North Texas Pipe Ford car will join the community to open the 2011 Relay For Life drive, which supports cancer prevention research and funding. Richardson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art with a minor in photography from SMU, but a brief stint at the Texas Motor Speedway‘s driving school convinced his instructor that he was racing material. For the past two years, he has qualified for “The Great American Race” – the Daytona 500. The 12-hour walkathon that caps the Relay For Life campaign will take place on the Boulevard 7 p.m.-7 a.m. April 15-16, where it will be part of SMU’s inaugural Founders’ Day celebration weekend.

Famed journalist to visit SMU: Former Dallas Morning News editorial writer, Pulitzer finalist and Communications Director for the National Science & Math Initiative Rena Pederson will visit campus for an Embrey Human Rights Program lecture this week. Pederson, who also wrote The Burma Chronicles on the life of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, will deliver the lecture at McCord Auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3. The event is free and no RSVP is required. For more information, visit or call 214-768-3284.

Brown Bag Dance returns: The Meadows School of the Arts‘ ever-popular Brown Bag Dance Series returns for the spring semester this week, as Division of Dance students explore multiple varieties of original jazz, ballet and modern works at lunchtime. The performances are at 12 noon every day this week (Feb 28-Mar 4) in the Bob Hope Theater Lobby of the Meadows building. Performances are free – bring your lunch. (Picture by Sarah Acosta/The Daily Mustang)

Brown Bag Dance SeriesFilm as politics: University of Maryland Professor Jeffrey Hurf will visit SMU this week for a presentation on an oft-overlooked piece of World War II history. His lecture, “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World,” is a study of how Adolf Hitler’s propaganda team created an indoctrination plan previously unknown to the Allied Forces. An entirely new and separate campaign was spread throughout the Middle East, exploiting multiple cultural rifts between Judaism and Islam to further Arab hatred against the Jewish people – some elements of which still exist today. The lecture will take place at 3 p.m. Friday, March 4 in Lawyer’s Inn, first floor, Carr Collins Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public, but e-mail RSVPs are required. Send your response here.