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

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SMU not a lock for Bush library

Rumors that SMU is a lock for George W. Bush’s presidential library were swirling around the national media over the past few days, but university officials were quick to deny the reports.

The SMU Office of Public Affairs issued the following statement yesterday to calm the rumors: “SMU is enthusiastic about the opportunity to present a proposal to become the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. We have no indication of any preferences at this time. Along with other interested institutions, we respectfully await word on when proposals will be considered.”

Dr. Tom Barry, vice president for executive affairs and the man in charge of the push for the presidential library, learned of the rumors through his wife.

“I was as surprised as anyone,” he said. Barry said the rumor came from a blurb in a Mississippi paper that quickly exploded into a national frenzy.

Reports that SMU was a “lock” for the library came from such media publications as The New York Daily News, which quoted various White House insiders, The Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News.

Barry denies the reports.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “I only know that SMU has not been informed.”

Despite the fact that SMU may not be a lock for the library, a proposal has been in the works for quite some time.

“We’ve been ready to make a proposal,” Barry said. “We worked very hard on our proposal. We’re ready to present.”

University President Gerald R. Turner also acknowledged that a proposal was in the works, but was being kept confidential until presented to President Bush.

“We’re not going to go through the presentation in any way until it’s presented to the president,” he said.

Turner said that SMU began “to learn about libraries” in the spring of 2001.

The library would house various artifacts from Bush’s term in office, with the exception of items that are labeled “high security” according to President Turner. Items would include things such as presidential gifts received from various dignitaries, artifacts from Bush’s time in office, e-mail records, pictures and First Lady Laura Bush’s dresses.

According to President Turner, the contents of the library will be viewed for an “immeasurable amount of time.”

Although SMU began showed its interest in having the library in 2001, many other universities in Texas are vying for the library.

According to President Turner, Texas A&M, Baylor, the University of Texas in Austin and the University of Texas-Arlington have all expressed interest in Bush’s presidential library.

Despite the competitors, President Turner said that SMU had not done a great deal of analysis on who is favored and who is not favored. The only thing SMU has focused on is showing the advantages of having the library in SMU and Dallas.

“One of the things we would argue is that having one in North Texas would broaden the appeal,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is make our proposal based on the benefits of having it at SMU and in Dallas.

“That’s our approach.”

Currently, UT is the site of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential library and Texas A&M is the site of George Bush, the elder’s library. If SMU were selected, it would be the third presidential library in Texas.

“We hope that third one’s in Dallas,” President Turner said.

Another appeal President Turner sees is Dallas’ size.

“Being in a rural area or small town hinders attendance,” he said.

Barry, who has a marketing background, is not taking the competition lightly. He believes there is no clear favorite.

“They’re all the same to me,” he said. “In my mind, all the competitors are strong competitors.”

Another question surrounding the proposed presidential library is where it would be built and the size if SMU is chosen as the site.

President Turner said the university is “basically just looking at the east side of campus.”

According to President Turner, the size of the library must not exceed 70,000 square feet, which means the entire building that could house restaurants, offices and possibly a school should, not exceed 120,000 square feet.

“You can build as big as you want, but the federal government will take over [only that 70,000 square feet,] he said.

President Turner believes it is in the best interest of SMU and the library itself, for the location to be near Central Expressway so that visitors could find it relatively easy.

Barry believes it will attract visitors from near and far.

“[Presidential libraries] are tourist destinations,” he said. “It will attract visitors interested in the presidency of George W. Bush.”

In addition to bringing visitors in the form of tourists, President Turner believes the library would be a popular site among scholars.

“Scholars will be coming here to utilize the contents for a long time to come,” he said.

Barry agreed.

“Wherever the presidential library goes, you’ll see an increase in scholars,” he said.

Aside from visitors and scholars flocking to the library, President Turner thinks the biggest asset to SMU having the library would be the increase in the university’s visibility.

“I think it will significantly increase the visibility of SMU both nationally and internationally,” he said.

Although no official decision has been made as to the location of the library at this point, both Turner and Barry believe President Bush will make the final call some time this year.

In the end, Turner said, the decision of the library’s location is “totally at the discretion of the president.”

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