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

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

LIVE BLOG: Latest Bush coverage


On April 25, 2013, SMU student journalists provided comprehensive, real-time coverage of the Bush Presidential Center dedication through this live blog, a live chat in partnership with and the Twitter hashtag #gwbsmu.

Thursday, April 25, 10:25 p.m.

The all-day Bush Center dedication event ended on a celebratory note, beginning with an evening Block Party and culminating with fireworks and the lighting of Freedom Tower. Below, browse selected tweets from the concluding festivities and a wrap-up video report from SMU-TV’s Paz Beatty:



Thursday, April 25, 6:56 p.m.

Among the students lucky enough to score tickets for today’s Bush Center dedication were SMU Hunt and Presidential scholars. Student reporters Ali Williams (video) and Julie Fancher (text) got some of their reactions:

The chance to be in the same place as one president is rare. To be in the same place as five living presidents? Your chances are slim to none.

SMU students, faculty and staff were able to say they were some of the select few to be a part of that once in a lifetime experience during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Students were immersed in the crowd of heads of states, congressional representatives, senators and local leaders.

At the last minute, SMU gave Hunt and Presidential Scholars tickets to the invite-only event.

Matt Montsinger, a sophomore President’s Scholar from Memphis, Tenn. said of the opportunity, “It was fantastic, a truly amazing experience to come here. I got the chance to get this close to five presidents is truly amazing and will be great for our school.”

Each student witnessed history as the last time these presidents were together in the same room was in January 2009, and they most likely will not be in the same place for another few years.

“I know everybody is walking around with a smile on their face, I mean people were crying it was just amazing. I never thought that I would see five presidents in one sitting,” said Ketetha Olengue another SMU President’s Scholar.

One of her favorite moments was seeing presidents of differing political parties getting along.

“To see them all say good things about each other, because I feel like you continuously hear about how this person did this and that person did that wrong and they all just supported each other.”

While the entire world had its eyes on SMU today, every student had the chance to witness history first hand, something they may never experience again.

Thursday, April 25, 6:37 p.m.

Most SMU students, faculty and staff who took part in today’s Bush Center opening did so without the benefit of a ticket to the official dedication. SMU-TV’s Abril Murillo talked to those who gathered to watch a simulcast at McFarlin Auditorium:

Thursday, April 25, 4:15 p.m.

SMU senior Jan Anderson spent the morning with the protesters. She offers this first-person account:

This morning, I mounted my bicycle and braved the heavily trafficked detours from the main SMU campus to the University’s Expressway Tower site at SMU Boulevard and North Central Expressway to take still photos of the anti-Bush protesters for the SMU Daily Campus/SMU-TV.

Before leaving the Journalism Convergence Newsroom, I called the university to check if University Avenue was open between Airline & the eastside of Central Expressway was open. They said it was closed, so I went via Lovers Lane only to discover that University Avenue was open after all. Thanks, SMU. Can I get some Wellness class credit for the extra exercise?

I spent close to two hours photographing both the larger anti-Bush protest group and the smaller pro-immigration protest group. Those photos will be posted later. (I maybe be a journalist, but I’m also a college student whose afternoon class was not canceled.)

I was so busy taking photos that I didn’t really take the time to count how many were in each protest group, although I would estimate that there were more than 100 anti-Bush protesters and around 20 people in the pro-immigration reform group. SMU students were among the participants in both protest groups.

While there was no way for the protesters’ message to be heard by those across the expressway in the secure area outside the George W. Bush Library, the media was in attendance. Not just SMU-TV and The Daily Campus, but also local CBS, NBC, & Univision affiliates, in addition to Dallas Morning News reporters who were tweeting photos of the protests.

SMU-TV interviewed well known anti-war activists Phil Donahue (yes, that Phil Donahue) and Cindy Sheehan. [See part of SMU student Patricia Villacin’s interview with Donahue below.]

I spoke to Dr. Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, about the protests, which he attended as an observer, and he said he thought the protest this morning was good “and it is a great exercise in the right to peacefully dissent and to express your conscience. In part it is what makes this country so great. We are free to disagree peacefully. And this is as it should be.”

And here’s an interesting factoid. According to Halperin, SMU is the only college in the US with both a undergraduate program, major or minor, in Human Rights and a Presidential Library. He doesn’t think any other school will join us in that category anytime soon.

Thursday, April 25, 3:57 p.m.

Kamica King presents her original poem, one of 100 letters delivered to President George W. Bush, written by SMU students to commemorate his presidency and the George W. Bush Presidential Center. King will perform twice tonight at the Block Party. Video by SMU-TV’s Paz Beatty.

Thursday, April 25, 1:47 p.m. (UPDATED)

SMU student reporters Reem Abdelrazik and Patricia Villacin, who have been with the protesters all morning, offer this update:

Police arrested three people who were protesting by the Bush Library. According to police, the protesters were blocking the road and did not obey the order from authorities to clear the roads. They are currently being held at the Dallas County Jail.

Thursday, April 25, 1:29 p.m.

Last week’s Boston Marathon bombings prompted some anxiety in the days leading up to today’s Bush Center dedication, but massive security preparations went off without a hitch, as The Daily Campus’ Julie Fancher reports:

With five living presidents, several members of Congress and several Heads of State, it was no surprise that security was top of mind for everyone in Dallas.

For the past two weeks SMU students have seen their campus taken over by much more than just SMU PD. Secret Service and Dallas Police Department teamed up to make sure that on April 25, Dallas was the safest place to be.

Especially after last weeks attacks at the Boston Marathon, students were nervous about whether Dallas would be targeted, because of the high profile attendees. 

Throughout the ceremony, security was ever present. Whether it was the snipers on the roof of the Bush Center or DPD, SMU PD, Dallas Fire Rescue and Secret Service immersed inside the secured area.

Stacey Rogers, a member of the Dallas Fire Rescue spoke after the event of how prepared they were for any possible problem.

“I thought we were really prepared today. There were about 70 of us Fire Rescue, and that doesn’t even count the Secret Service and Dallas police,” said Rogers.

Security was even able to enjoy the ceremony while they were patrolling the area.

“I was able to watch,” said Rogers. “I thought it was fantastic, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Thursday, April 25, 12:56 p.m.

Katelyn Gough covered the Bush Library dedication for @thedailycampus. Here’s her roundup on the speeches:

All five living Presidents spoke today at the Bush Center dedication, accompanied by the First Women of the White House, both past and present.

Laura Bush said the Center is “designed to present the past and engage the future,” and represents the unity of the American presidency, which “is not about one person; it’s about all the people who join in service.”

Following brief but heart-felt speeches by both Carter and H.W. Bush, Clinton said the gift of the library acknowledged Bush’s choices in office while “inviting us to make different ones if we choose.”

“We are here to celebrate a country we all love,” Clinton said.

President Obama said G.W. Bush lived up to the fact that “America needs a leader who will face the storm head on.” He said friendship between all presidents is essential to such.

“When all living presidents are together, it is a special day for democracy,” Obama said.

In the moments during the height of the dedication, G.W. Bush said his Presidential Center and its research opportunities are not for one, but for all those across the nation.

“The purpose of public office is not to serve personal ambition,” Bush said. “Leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.”

By the close of the dedication today, world and nation leaders, Dallas supporters, and SMU students alike left the ceremony in a state of awe and celebration.

Caroline Ellis attended the ceremony from the University of Texas, with familial ties to the family of honor.

“My dad’s cousin is George W. Bush,” Ellis explained.

She said she has been as involved as she could be while still being a full-time college student.

“All the speakers were amazing; Obama was great,” Ellis said. “Bill Clinton is so funny, I was cracking up the whole time.”

Now that the library is finished, Ellis said she won’t hesitate to make the three hour drive to the landmark with her family’s name on it.

“I love Dallas,” Ellis said. “I would love to visit.”

Thursday, April 25, 12:39 p.m.

SMU student journalists Emily Sims and Elizabeth Scotti spread across campus after the Bush Center dedication to talk with students, SMU employees, and guests for their thoughts. Here are some of them:

  • “Terrific! It is amazing to see the living presidents together and to see how even though we have disagreements as a nation we all can come together and this is a demonstration of that.” – David Kustoff of Memphis, Tenn., who attended the ceremony.
  • “It was really inspiring to see all the leaders up there and to celebrate W.”- SMU vocal performance student Evan Henke, who sang at the ceremony.
  • “Everything went without a hitch and I think it met the expectations of the community and SMU.” – Kenneth Carmichael an officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety, who worked security for the event
  • “It was really special and the most memorable moment for me was when George W. Bush spoke and started to cry.”- Lexi Strickland, an SMU sophomore and Hunt Scholar who attended the event
  • “I don’t think we are going to make it to the block party because we are concerned about going through security with a 2-year-old,” said Mandy Moore, an SMU alumni who attended the opening. The block party takes place at 5 p.m. on the SMU intramural fields. “I love W. and I think Laura is brilliant, and Clinton was hilarious, and the library is amazing,” Moore said.
  • “It was fantastic, very well done and very presidential and it was great to see all the five living presidents who attended.” – Matt McLaughlin, an SMU junior
  • “I thought it was riveting and I was moved by the whole ceremony.”-Tony LaRose, an SMU junior who watched the ceremony on TV while wearing a Polo shirt he purchased at the new center

Thursday, April 25, 12:04 p.m.

SMU student journalist Matthew Costa caught up with his department head for some thoughts following today’s Bush Center opening:

Tony Pederson, SMU’s Belo Foundation Endowed Distinguished Chair in Journalism, offered his thoughts on the Bush Center dedication right after the historic event.

“I think it was very well done,” Pederson said. “It was a great mixture of reverence as well as humor.”

Pederson enjoyed being present for all five living president’s speeches, but was unable to attain the one thing he was missing: a handshake with the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.

“No, I couldn’t get one this time,” he said. “I had a white ticket so I was seated a bit too far away.”

Pederson has shaken hands with every other living president at some point in their political careers. Even with that minor disappointment, Pederson pointed out several key moments from today’s speeches that he said will stick with him.

“Jimmy Carter gave some great remarks on Bush’s contributions to Africa,” he said. “I thought that really set the precedent for the rest of the ceremony. Obama held his part, too, with a great deal of graciousness.”

Pederson also thanked President George W. Bush for his gracious comments to SMU President R. Gerald Turner and the entire student body, calling them “awesome”.

Thursday, April 25, 11:55 a.m.

SMU student journalists Julie Fancher, Matthew Costa, Caleb Wossen and Hanan Esaili gathered responses from those who attended the dedication ceremony and watched the live stream at other campus locations:

  • “Fantastic, truly amazing experience to come here I got a chance to get this close to have 5 presidents is truly amazing and will be great for our school,” Matt Montsinger, a SMU President Scholar, said.
  • “I thought it was great. Such a special time to be at SMU. All five living presidents being here is great. Listening to the speeches was my favorite part, especially hearing that SMU students are awesome,” senior Alex Munoz said.
  • “I really liked all the speeches. I’m not an American citizen but I really love this country and seeing the presidents is really special. I’m looking forward to the block party later today,” sophomore Sofia Coto said.
  • “This was a once in a lifetime event. Wild Peruna Mustangs couldn’t have kept me away today,” Patrick Hicks, director of graduate programs at the Lyle School of Engineering, said.
  • “I cried about 10 times. I should have brought tissues…I hope that after this [dedication] people who have never experienced Dallas will come see why it is loved by us so much,” Katie Stoudenmire said.
  • ‪”Great, and it didn’t take too long.” – Khaled Almahmud, civil engineering graduate student, said. ‪
  • “It was cool to be a part of it, even though we were so far away,” sophomore Justin Thomas said.‬
  • ‪”I feel proud to be a Mustang – just to have all five presidents on campus. They all had their own charisma and the library is beautiful. I’m going on the tour Monday,” senior Ankita Krishnan said.‬
  • “I just felt really proud to be American, to be Texan, and to be a Mustang and hear their speeches,” sophomore Hanan Hassan said.

Thursday, April 25, 10:12 a.m.

The ceremony is underway. All five living presidents have made their entrance. Watch the ceremony on our VIDEO STREAM and contribute to the conversation on our shared LIVE CHAT with The Dallas Morning News. This blog will resume after the ceremony concludes.

Thursday, April 25, 9:55 a.m.

SMU student journalist Reem Abdelrazik posted this report from SMU’s Expressway Tower, the site of protests against the Bush Center and the former president’s administration:

Protesters are lined up with signs at SMU’s Expressway Tower, some in orange jumpsuits and others in white masks. Protesters are not allowed to stage their protest any closer to the Bush Center. Expressway Tower is at the southeast corner of Central Expressway and SMU Boulevard.

Protesters say they plan to march around the area. Many of the protesters cite corruption in the Bush administration as their reason for protesting. One woman said her son was killed while stationed in Iraq.

The Bush Center “is not something that should be celebrated,” she said.

Thursday, April 25, 9:44 a.m.

SMU student reporter Natalie Yezbick is now at the Reunion lot. She files this report:

A+ Student Staffing is meeting at the Reunion lot to prepare for the big day ahead.

According to employee Michael Esenhour, they are in charge of “Everything. Set up, tear down, barbacking,” for both the Bush event and the block party.

Benard Johnson, general manager of Buses by Bill, said that cars began parking at 6 a.m. this morning.

“I think our rush has come,” said Johnson.

Buses by Bill safety manager Linda Mosman said, “Everything is subject to change. If we had told people something specific, it would have changed, and it did.”

Mosman said Buses by Bill has had a relationship with SMU for at least 14 years. Beginning May 1, there is going to be a dedicated shuttle for both the Bush Center and the Meadows Museum running from the Mockingbird DART station, according to Mosman.

One of the buses experienced battery issues yesterday, according to Mosman. Obama is staying at the Omni near the Reunion parking lot. Parking attendants noticed the snipers on rooftops retreating around 9 a.m. The bridge to the Omni, previously blocked by police, also opened at 9 a.m.

Thursday, April 25, 9:37 a.m.

SMU student reporter Natalie Yezbick is with guests arriving to the opening by DART trains and buses, and free SMU shuttles. She files this report:

SMU has been offering thousands of sightseers and visitors free shuttle service to and from DART’s Mockingbird and Union stations to witness the historic Bush Center opening.

Sarah Harmeyer, a Bush Center volunteer and shuttle bus greeter, started her shift at 6 a.m. and will work until 1 p.m. The bus that she is managing holds 57 people, and she had completed three trips from Bishop Boulevard to the Mockingbird DART station as of 7:30 a.m.

“I’ve been impressed with the professionalism of our training,” Harmeyer said. The wait has been a long one, as many people had purchased their tickets weeks in advance and are now waiting in line for a chance to see President Bush.

Ticket holder Ed Watson got his tickets six weeks ago. He’s looking forward to “the historical moment, the whole experience itself.” “He’s a great president and we’re happy to be here with him,” Watson said.

Thursday, April 25, 9:31 a.m.

SMU-TV’s Summer Dashe provides a preview of the speakers and highlights for the dedication ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. CDT:


Thursday, April 25, 8:51 a.m.

SMU student journalist Julie Fancher reports about Bush Center donors and talks with former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman:

With just over an hour left until the dedication the seating area is packed.

Crowds keep filing in from near the Laura Lee Blanton building. Many of the invited guests are wearing silver “W” pins, which I figured was a collectible that were handed out.

I could not have been more wrong. Those silver “W” pins are gifts for those who donated a lot of money to the creation of The George W. Bush Presidential Center.

It’s safe to say, most likely from their name tags, that their names can also be found on the entryway of the museum, where names of donors who have given $1 million plus to the center.

While scouring up and down SMU Boulevard looking for someone who would talk to me, I got a quick quote from a Dallas legend.

“I’m excited to be here,” said former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.

I didn’t see him with Jerry Jones, but it’s safe to say he’s proudly wearing that silver W.

Still no sightings yet of members of the Bush family, but SMU President R. Gerald Turner just spoke on the jumbotron. You can check out my exclusive interview with him at

And make sure to keep tweeting anything you see with #gwbsmu

Thursday, April 25, 8:43 a.m.

A sampling of photos tweeted by SMU student journalists, Journalism faculty and student media advisers:


Thursday, April 25, 8:20 a.m.

SMU student journalist Julie Fancher introduces the SMU student media, talks with John King from CNN, and continues to update us on the happenings at the Bush Center dedication this morning:

SMU students arrived at 5 a.m. to begin coverage of the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication.

Several student journalists are out in the field today speaking with special guests who received a ticket to this highly anticipated event.

We made our way over after a special edition of The Daily Update went to air. The security line was not as long as it looked at 4 a.m., and we were able to find our designated spot up in the risers with the rest of the media.

Guests with tickets began arriving around 7 a.m. but had been waiting in security since almost 6 a.m. No sighting from my end on any member of the bush family or his former administration.

Members of the press are filing in, I just spotted John King from CNN who joked about today’s weather.

“This is proof that God must like George Bush more than Bill Clinton, that day was a monsoon”

Right now still photographs of former President Bush and his family are playing on the screen.

The audience is getting brief descriptions of the center and the surrounding city of Dallas.

With just two hours until the dedication begins, make sure to check, follow all of our latest updates at and use our hashtag #gwbsmu to tweet what you see today.

Thursday, April 25, 8:06 a.m.

The following Heads of States will be in attendance to the George W. Bush Dedication Ceremony:

  • Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO)
  • President Mikheil Saakashvilli and Mrs. Sandra E. Roelofs (Georgia)
  • President Josè Marìa Aznar (Spain)
  • Prime Minister and Mrs. Ehud Olmert (Israel)
  • Prime Minister and Mrs. John Howard (Australia)
  • President Lee Myung-bak and Mrs. Yoon-ok Kim (Korea)
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mrs. Cherie Blair (United Kingdom)
  • President John Kufuor (Ghana)
  • President Francisco Flores Perèz and Mrs. Lourdes Maria Rodriguez de Flores (El Salvador)
  • Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Italy)

Thursday, April 25, 7:55 a.m.

President Barack Obama will be headed to Waco later today for a memorial for the West fertilizer plant explosion victims, and SMU student journalist Meredith Carey spoke with Baylor and SMU students from the area:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be making their way to Waco tomorrow immediately after the George W. Bush Center for a public memorial for West fertilizer plant explosion victims.

“I think its important that the president is coming because [the explosion] was a very devastating event in West. His visit means that he’s standing with us and he’s supporting us in this tragedy,” said Baylor University sophomore Luke Nickell.

The memorial’s planners are expecting thousands first responders and students to come to the ceremony, which will be held at 2 p.m. at Baylor’s Ferrell University Center.

The president’s visit and memorial service will mark eight days since the blast in the small town north of Waco killed 15.

SMU junior Kristin LeBrasseur is from the Texas town of Muenster, which has a population of just over 1,500. West’s population is just under 3,000.

“Having the presence of a President in such a small town will be something the people of West will never forget,” LeBrasseur said. “I mean, look at us this week. We’re in the city, where seeing famous people is not a rare occurrence and yet we will remember the opening of the library for forever.”

“I can only imagine the excitement it may bringing to the people [of West]-a way to keep their minds off their difficult times right now,” she said.

Anyone interested in attending the West memorial should plan to arrive at Baylor’s Floyd Casey football stadium for parking at 11 a.m. when the doors open. There will be busses to the Ferrell University Center and security checkpoints for entry, according to the Waco Tribune.

The ceremony will also be available live online at

Thursday, April 25, 7:41 a.m.

SMU student journalist Katelyn Gough filed this report on the early crowd awaiting the dedication and discusses the Bush Institute:

Invited guests began arriving by 7 a.m. to the long-awaited Bush Center dedication, and members of national media were in place as early as 4:30 this morning. Eager anticipation to see all five living Presidents seems reason enough to brave the brisk morning until the ceremony officially begins at 10 a.m.

The Center will be dedicated on 23 acres of SMU campus, and will open to the public on May 1.

The Bush Institute–a public policy “think tank” that makes up one-third of the Center–has been at work since its founding in 2009. It is an uncommon feature for a Presidential library, but has been doing active work on Bush-focus topics including education and women’s rights in Afghanistan.

With the celebration this morning drawing the “who’s who” of Dallas–not to mention much of the nation’s political sphere–the Bush Center will be starting off with excitement and supporters looking forward to progress.

Wednesday, April 24, 11:39 p.m.

SMU-TV’s Anne Parker, who previewed the Bush Museum on Wednesday along with other SMU student journalists, provides this recap with highlights:


Wednesday, April 24, 10:17 p.m.

SMU senior Dani Gersh covered today’s NBC News forum at Caruth Hall and filed this report:

David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” moderated a forum Wednesday at SMU with four top George W. Bush administration officials, discussing how the war in Iraq, 9/11, and the changing nature of media affected President Bush’s time in office.

Josh Bolten, who served as the White House chief of staff for President George W. Bush, said administration officials consider the Bush Center opening to be “our moment to set some of the record straight.”

Bolten and his predecessor, Andy Card, spoke about the war in Iraq and said the situation weighed heavily on both the president and his administration. Card, Bush’s chief of staff until 2006, emphasized that winning the peace is much harder than winning the war.

Dan Bartlett, who served as the White House communications director during the Bush administration, described the changing relationship between the Bush administration and the media as new sources proliferated in the early 2000s.

Anita McBride, chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, described her former boss as an activist first lady dedicated to helping others. She stressed the difficulty in getting good stories to the media following 9/11.

David Gregory concluded the forum by encouraging students at SMU to seize the opportunities offered by the Bush Center: “Take advantage of this library and wrestle with these issues. You have this opportunity as journalists.”

Wednesday, April 24, 9:35 p.m.

SMU student journalist Meredith Carey spoke with Meadows School of the Arts Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism Tony Pederson about his encounters with the former presidents and his journey to shake hands with President Obama:

When Tony Pederson first shook President Jimmy Carter’s hand, he was a graduate student at Ohio State and Carter was making his way around the country, campaigning for the 1976 presidential election. Now, as the five living presidents make their way to campus, Pederson, the Meadows School of the Arts Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism, is on a mission to shake hands with the only president in the last 37 years who he has yet to meet, President Barack Obama.

“It’s a pipe dream but if some strange opportunity would arise I would love to meet him,” he said. “I know the president will be in and out and security will be extraordinary, as it should be.”

Thanks to his invitation to the dedication ceremony Thursday for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Pederson hopes to work his way towards the current president.

“I’ve been a news and political junkie since I was a kid and I still am,” said Pederson. “It has nothing to do with politics. I’ve got a great respect for government and the press.”

Pederson met former presidents during his time as managing editor for the Houston Chronicle. He greeted President Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton at American Society of News Editors meetings where each president spoke as well as at the various White House invites he received.

“With Bush 43, I was able to meet him a number of times while he was governor,” said Pederson.

For the Ethics of Convergent Media professor, one of the most exciting aspects of the dedication’s festivities is the opportunity for SMU student journalists to participate and network with the officials, dignitaries and presidents attending the week’s events.

“It’s exciting for me to see all the students working here in the journalism complex. It is great to see young people have such enthusiasm for news,” he said. “As journalists, we are writing history on the fly but there does need to be a reflective approach and a serious analysis of the decisions and data.”

While Pederson is focused on meeting the president and welcoming him to Dallas, he also ready for the future opportunities the library and institute will offer SMU students, especially those in the journalism school.

“The presidency of George W. Bush, the eight years he was in office, was one of the most historic press since World War II,” he said. “[The library] is really an opportunity for journalists,scholars and the pubic in an evenhanded, scholarly way to reevaluate what happened during Bush’s presidency.”

Wednesday, April 24, 7:05 p.m.

SMU senior Adriana Ovalle files this report from outside tonight’s “Supper on the Lawn” festivities: 

People are passing through metal detectors on the SMU quad for a special dinner in front of Dallas Hall.

“We’re expecting about 1,200 people,” said Mike McMahan, institute operations director for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

On most evenings like these, students are usually lounging on the grass, but today the area is secluded and surrounded by security agents.

The private dinner, “Supper on the Lawn,” is exclusively for donors of the presidential center. President George W. Bush is expected to make an appearance.

An enormous tent covers a major section of the quad with lights hanging from the ceiling, and a dance floor right in the middle of it all. Barbecue is on the menu.

Wednesday, April 24, 6:53 p.m.

SMU student journalists Lexie Hammesfahr and Ayen Bior are at Love Field to capture the landing of Air Force One.

Wednesday, April 24, 6:38 p.m.

Protesters began to gather near the corner of SMU Boulevard and North Central Expressway at around 5 p.m. Dallas police were on scene monitoring the situation. More protesters are expected for the opening of the Bush Center. SMU-TV’s Dani Gersh reports:

Wednesday, April 24, 5:31 p.m.

SMU Journalism students are using new forms of digital storytelling to document the Bush Center dedication and its impact on campus.

Prof. Karen Thomas‘ Reporting 2 classes scattered across campus today and gathered their reports using Storify, a digital curation tool that allows users to construct an annotated story with text, multimedia and social media. One class took a more narrative approach while the other class focused on a visual collage of traffic and parking restrictions.

Meanwhile, student journalists also created a Tumblr page with visual highlights of today’s events, including a series of photos from today’s media preview of the Bush Center.

Wednesday, April 24, 5:06 p.m.

The dedication is tomorrow, but the tension with bus transportation to and from campus is being felt today. Student reporter Ayen Bior files this report:

We are less than 24 hours away from the dedication of the 13th U.S. presidential library, and the anticipation that is building up as the campus welcomes the new addition to its skyline is vivid.

The roads are relatively calm around SMU, but the excitement on campus is raging. Unfortunately, so is the Mustang Express.

There are currently three 27-seater busses commuting back and forth from Mockingbird Station to Airline Garage on the North side of campus. And although the dedication is tomorrow, some students are already feeling the tension today.

During rush hour, bus drivers are seeing an influx of students who ditched their cars for the day to take advantage of the free bus ride.

Kevin Bushman, a master’s student, was flustered as he rushed into the bus from Mockingbird Station. Contrary to the emails and notices sent by the University, Bushman thought he could find student parking on campus for commuters.

He was surprised when he struggled to find parking at Mockingbird Station.

Bushman wonders how many students will be in his shoes for tomorrow’s dedication. He won’t have an issue, however, as he plans to spend the day at home.

Freddie Hanks was added as an additional driver on Mustang Express on Monday and will stay on for the weekend.

Unlike some of the students, Hanks remained calm even as he mentioned that Thursday would bring chaos.

Hanks mentioned the amount of students who would be in Bushman’s shoes, as well as the amount of visitors who won’t know where to go at all.

Wednesday, April 24, 3:48 p.m.

After Wednesday morning’s media preview of the Bush Center, former First Lady Laura Bush addressed reporters about the impact she feels the center will have on those who visit. Below, SMU-TV’s Anne Parker provides a video report while Daily Campus assignments editor Julie Fancher sums up the media preview:

The media was out in full force today for an exclusive tour of the museum inside the new George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Cameras, reporters and photographers made their way through the exhibits early this morning, the day before the dedication, before a Q&A out in the highly publicized rose garden.

Unbeknownst to the four SMU student reporters, and several others, the Q&A was moderated by Director of the Library Alan Lowe and former First Lady Laura Bush.

While today is officially the day that they sign the center over to National Archives and Records Administration — and, as Mrs. Bush pointed out, the American people — today was more of a day of reflecting on their journey and looking forward to the future.

“This is a place for people to learn and relearn about the first decade of the new century,” said Mrs. Bush.

Most notably, September 11, 2001.

“We still live with the effects of 9/11, and we still live with the loss of people who were lost that day,” said Mrs. Bush.

She shared that on a recent tour President Bush gave to family, he realized that the children had not yet been born on 9/11, and therefore were unaware of the magnitude of this event.

The goal of that exhibit is to teach those who may not know much about the day that united our country like never before.

“There’s more to our country that unites use than divides us,” said Mrs. Bush.

In fact, she shared that some of the families who lost loved ones that day will be in attendance at the dedication.

While Mrs. Bush discussed 9/11, she also discussed one of her other favorite parts of the exhibit, the replica of the Oval Office.

“I love the Oval Office,” said Mrs. Bush. “I had fun decorating it when I did 12 years ago, so it’s fun to see it recreated here.”

Mrs. Bush also discussed her pride of having this center located on her alma matter’s campus, and how even her husband’s alma matter played a role in the library’s design.

“I’m excited for SMU, it’s fun to be here. This is where I graduated, I went to college here and I’m back on my old campus,” said Mrs. Bush. “We had an architect from Yale, Bob Stern, who is the dean of the Yale architecture school, so that was great to have someone from George’s university while we built this library here on my campus.”  

Wednesday, April 24, 12:36 p.m.

SMU senior Eric Sheffield was one of four student journalists inside the media tour this morning at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Here is his take on what is inside:

Walking into the main exhibit of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, you’re met first with innocence. 

The first thing that you’ll see is a large school red schoolhouse with a chalkboard reading ‘No Child Left Behind’, surrounded by Dr. Seuss books, children’s trinkets and a school bus bench for people to sit in. 

by Julie Fancheron Apr 24, 2013 at 4:59 PM
After Bush got elected in 2001, one of President Bush’s key prerogatives was going to be a reform of the country’s faltering education system.  Eight months into his presidency, the No Child Left Behind Act had been passed, and the president thought that he was really making headway.

President Bush’s baseball collection, which was aptly supplied through his position as managing partner of the Texas Rangers, is just around the corner.

The library walks us through September 5, 2001, the Bushes’ first state dinner, which was in honor of Mexico’s then-president, Vicente Fox.

On September 8, Bush’s education reform leaped another hurdle with the first National Book Festival, which Laura Bush played a significant part in establishing.

Then all of a sudden, you glance to your right, and see a large mural titled ‘A Day of Fire’.

All of a sudden, the lightness that filled the library is gone and replaced suddenly with gloom. 

This is representative of 9/11 itself.  So unexpected, so intrusive, but impossible to forget.

The next room is filled with a twisted piece of metal, pulled from the World Trade Center wreckage.  It’s surrounded by a wall that acts as a monument that lists all of the people who died in the attacks.

Steel Beam from the World Trade Center 
by Julie Fancheron Apr 24, 2013 at 4:59 PM

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Laura Bush said shortly after that she believed that 9/11 acted as a catalyst that changed the course of her husband’s presidency.

Alan Lowe, director of the center, said that he thought the 9/11 exhibit was the most powerful section on show in the library.


Tuesday, April 23, 9:57 p.m.

Protesters gathered at a Dallas church tonight to draw attention to the costs of wars fought during George W. Bush’s presidency. Student journalist Mia Castillo reports:


Veterans, families, and Iraqi civilians shared their personal stories on the effects of the Iraq War Tuesday night at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas.

The protester event, Human Cost of War, allowed a panel to speak on their opinions to an anti-war audience. The room was filled with people sporting T-shirts with slogans such as “Arrest Bush” and “Veterans For Peace.”

Members of one family on the panel lost their son and brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeff Lucey, a veteran of the Iraq War, who took his own life after returning home.

“This is Jeff as a child, because we need to put a face on these casualties, they are not just numbers, they are people that had lives, and families and friends that love them,” said Joyce Lucey, the corporal’s mother, as she showed the audience a picture of her son. “We had no idea that war with all its insanity would enter our lives and destroy our family.”

Another speaker on the panel was peace activist Farah Muhsin Al Mousawi, who moved to America from Iraq in 2008 on a student scholarship. “We are holding the United States government accountable for the human cost of war,” said Mousawi. “We are standing together to hold, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and everyone else accountable for every innocent soul that has died.”

Tuesday, April 23, 5:47 p.m.

Dozens of students already have interned for the Bush Library while it was under construction. SMU-TV’s Summer Dashe talked to a few interns for this video report:

Monday, April 22, 12:25 p.m.

Long lines have formed in SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center as students claim their tickets for Thursday evening’s SMU Block Party. SMU student journalist Ayen Bior files this report:

“Have your ID’s ready,” shouts Suzy Brack, who is overseeing the long line of people waiting to get their tickets for this week’s Bush Center block party.

Hughes-Trigg Student Center, which is usually filled with students resting for their next class period, is currently replaced by faculty, students and staff who are eager to grab their tickets.

“It’s long but it goes by really fast,” said Brack, who was relentlessly expediting the line.

Student body president-elect Ramon Trespalacios was not intimidated by the line, even joking that the university should get President Bush to come to campus more often to increase student excitement. Trespalacios was the last person in line, but it didn’t it did not bother him at all — he even said that being the last person in line was “awesome.”

4/17/13, 8:43 p.m.

The scale is much bigger this time around, but this isn’t the first time that the Bush Center has drawn high-profile dignitaries to SMU. In November 2010, many of President Bush’s top administration officials gathered for an elaborate groundbreaking ceremony that also drew numerous protesters. Browse through The Daily Mustang’s Bush Blog to get a feel for how SMU’s campus came alive on groundbreaking day, or watch the three short videos below:

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