The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Signed, sealed, delivered

14 months later, Bush Library officially comes to SMU
Signed, sealed, delivered
John Schreiber

(John Schreiber)

SMU officials ended 14 months worth of waiting Friday with the announcement that George W. Bush’s Presidential Library will make its home on the Hilltop.

The school’s Board of Trustees approved the deal that Friday morning before the noon press conference inside the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom.

“This is a great day for SMU,” university President R. Gerald Turner said after receiving a standing ovation for his efforts. “It’s a day to be savored, it’s a day to be celebrated.”

The site of the complex will be at the corner of SMU Boulevard and Central Expressway – currently where tennis courts and the Binkley Apartments stand. A portion of the complex will also be on four acres north of SMU Boulevard. Two other options exist for extra land that would accompany the project.

The goal is for groundbreaking to occur by the end of 2009 with construction lasting five years.

Turner along with Bush Foundation Chairman Don Evans, Bush Foundation President Mark Langdale and Board of Trustees Chairman Carl Sewell were at Friday afternoon’s announcement.

Evans said SMU was selected in part because of location and also the Bush family’s connections to the school.

“We pledge to work very closely with you,” Evans said. “We look forward to building a lasting partnership for generations to come.”

The agreement

SMU released the 143-page agreement between the foundation and the school Monday afternoon. Divided into nine sections, it covers everything from the cost of the land to how the institute will operate.

Turner summarized the agreement Monday afternoon in a meeting open to the campus community inside the Umphrey Lee Ballroom.

Outside the ballroom was the model the university commissioned of the potential Bush Library site. Turner said now was as good a time as any to show off the model that was used in the presentation to the library committee.

“We’ve been hiding it for a long time,” Turner joked.

The model does not reflect what the final site will look like. That will be left up to the architects, though Turner said an advisory committee he is on does have to give approval of the final design.

The Bushes want the building to reflect the time period of his presidency – the first of the 21st century. Turner hopes the building can reflect that but also fit within the campus’ Georgian architecture.

The foundation will be governed by a board of directors that could have as many as 12 members, with two being from SMU.

The institute

The most controversial part of the library complex will remain separate from the school.

The Faculty Senate raised several questions regarding the expected Bush Institute last year.

A showdown between the senate and the administration stalled the project in March 2007. A resolution that called for SMU to disassociate itself with the institute ended in a 13-13 tie with three abstentions. The meeting became heated when then-provost Thomas Tunks warned those pushing the resolution that there would be consequences if it passed.

A board of directors that will be annually elected will operate it. The board will have between three and nine members, the number most likely being nine. SMU can designate one or two members to the board, allowing the school to have a small say in what will occur according to Turner.

The institute alone will select its fellows and be responsible for them. In the case of concurrent appointments, institute fellows will go through the same procedures SMU faculty do before receiving the appointment. Concurrent appointments can have an SMU title only during the time of their appointment. They cannot keep any university designation at the end of the term – a request made by the Faculty Senate.

An academic advisory committee will be formed to act as a sounding board between the institute and the school. It will be split 50-50, with half of the members from SMU and the other half from the institute.

“The whole purpose of that is to have a mechanism where cooperation can happen,” Turner said.

Terms of the agreement

SMU is leasing the land to the Bush Foundation for $1,000. The length of the first term of the lease is 99 years, with the ability to renew the lease with the foundation six more times for 25 years each. The total length of the lease is 249 years.

SMU plans to close on the lease with the foundation by December 2010.

Either the school or the foundation can pull out of the lease if certain terms are violated.

SMU is responsible for the clearing of the library site, which means knocking down the Binkley Apartments and pulling out the tennis courts among other tasks. The school is also responsible for taking care of any pre-existing environmental problems on the library site.

The foundation will design, construct and finance the construction of the library complex. They will also be responsible for any environmental problems on the site going forward and will take care of insurance for the property.


Fundraising efforts will begin shortly for the project, but the Bush Foundation will conduct them – not SMU. An eight-member committee will be in charge of raising funds.

Turner estimated the cost of the complex around $200 million, but said it could be more depending on the final plans.

No fundraising goal has been set, but an agreement has already been reached about the distribution of funds. The first $200 million will go solely to the foundation and the national archives to help run the facility. Any amount between $200 and $500 million will be split: 15 percent to SMU for a restricted endowment fund for joint programs with the institute and 85 percent to the foundation and the national archives.

Turner said money for the project isn’t for construction costs alone. Funds will also be put aside for endowments related to operational costs.

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