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


Former president unveils library vision

Former President George W. Bush spoke in front of a packed McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus last week.
Former President George W. Bush spoke in front of a packed McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus last week.

Former President George W. Bush spoke in front of a packed McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus last week. (MICHAEL DANSER/The Daily Campus)

Former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush announced their vision and goals for the George W. Bush Institute Thursday, in front of a packed McFarlin Auditorium.

The public policy institute will connect scholarly research with practical results and real-world action. It will include a Presidential library archive and museum, and will be the first of its kind to host a policy institute. Bush said the institute’s mission is to “advance policy initiatives that expand freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion.”

Starting in the spring of 2010, programming of the institute will begin to focus on education, global health, human freedom and economic growth. Each area will have a special focus on empowering women from around the world and encouraging the work of social entrepreneurs.

All four areas of focus will pay special attention to two groups: women and social entrepreneurs.

Both the former first lady and former president believe that women will lead the democracy in the Middle East and that when you educate and empower women, all other aspects of society improve as well.

“The Initiative will focus on advancing social and economic opportunities for women and girls around the world,” Mrs.. Bush said.  “Research shows that when you educate and empower women, you improve nearly every other aspect of society. … The Institute will form partnerships with women educators, political leaders, health professionals and entrepreneurs all over the world – especially from the Middle East.”

The institute will look to empower the women promoting change in the Middle East, with their ally the United States, in hopes of improving women’s rights throughout the world. From saving lives of new mothers in Africa through educating them about the danger of AIDS and the different precautions that can be taken, to encouraging female entrepreneurs, the institute looks to encourage reform all over the world.

The second group includes social entrepreneurs: people who are coming up with new ideas to create jobs. The institute will research different ways of achieving success within social entrepreneurship by evaluating different practices, especially regarding agents of change, such as faith-based organizations. Next year, the institute will host a conference on social entrepreneurship to honor the most outstanding organizations and recognize them for their achievements and results.

“Laura and I believe that women are one of the most powerful catalysts for social change,” Bush said. “So the Bush Institute will include an ongoing women’s initiative to encourage and empower women in many different fields – from saving the lives of new mothers in Africa, to supporting women entrepreneurs in America, to encouraging women reformers around the world.  I strongly believe women will lead the democracy movement in the Middle East, and they will have an ally in the Bush Institute.”

 The first area of focus will be centered around improving America’s education, highlighting the No Child Left Behind Act to bring more accountability to schools to raise student performance and help narrow the achievement gap. Working in conjunction with SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Bush’s institute will bring together practitioners and scholars to work on education reform to teach teachers how to be more effective in the classroom.

Leading the department will be Dr.. Jim Gutherie and Sandy Kress. Gutherie, currently a professor at Vanderbilt University, will serve as the institute’s Director of Education Policy Studies, effective Jan. 1. Gutherie will also be a full-time professor at the University beginning next semester. Kress, a former member of the Dallas School Board, will serve as the Director of Education Policy Development and Outreach. The pair, along with education expert Beth Ann Bryan, will work together to spearhead a project about how to best recruit, prepare, evaluate and reward leaders in the field of education.

A project launching in March of 2010 will include the university hosting the National Conference on Education, a conference that will bring educators, scholars and public and private sector officials.

The second area of focus will be a series of programs devoted to improving global health. The Bush Institute will expand upon initiatives from the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Malaria Initiative and the Millennium Challenge Account, which saved millions of lives around the world upon their creation.

In his speech on Thursday, Bush announced the Institute’s Global Health Fellow to be Ambassador Mark Dybul, the leader for the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Under Dybul’s leadership, the institute will look to develop more strategies to provide timelier and more effective and comprehensive health services to new mothers and infants.

The third area, focused on economic growth, will be led by Oscar Morales Guevara, the leader behind a Facebook movement to gain support against the FARC. The institute will continue to advocate for freedom around the world, assembling a Freedom Collection of historic videos, memoirs and documents from activists. The collection will be made available on-line for anyone to see. Participants of the collection include President Vacla Havel of the Czech Republic, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Mohsen Sazegara, an Iranian activist, and Kang Chol-hwan, a prisoner of a North Korean gulag for 10 years.

As part of his fellowship with the institute, Guevara will help organize a conference that will bring together cyber-dissidents from around the world on using the Internet to promote democratic change.

The final area will focus on economic growth and include a working task force to promote free trade and analyze the benefits of trade in the past, and the opportunities it provides for American workers in the future.

In April 2010, the Bush Institute will host a conference called “Natural Gas Nation” with the Maguire Energy Institute in the Cox School of Business to unite experts from around the country to discuss the benefits of natural gas production. The conference will also focus on ways towards developing a stronger and cleaner economic growth for the United States and the rest of the world.

More to Discover