With Southern Methodist University in Dallas set to house the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the school’s faculty are now criticizing an institute that will be attached to the library. The institute, which will sponsor programs designed to “promote the vision of the president” and “celebrate” Bush’s presidency, will be independent of SMU’s academic governance.
Compounding fears that the institute will trade academic scholarship for partisan praise of Bush, Mark Langdale, president of the Bush library foundation said recently that former Bush senior advisor Karl Rove is advising the project in “an informal capacity.” Langdale called Rove a “critical resource about what happened in the administration”:
“Karl’s pretty busy doing a lot of things in his private life right now, but he’s a critical resource about what happened in the administration, and he has a lot of good ideas about programming and positioning,” said Mr. Langdale, a longtime friend and former neighbor of Mr. Bush.
Just recently, Mr. Langdale said, Mr. Rove e-mailed with suggestions about the size of an auditorium for the library complex.
In the run-up to the formal agreement between SMU and the Bush foundation, critics “suggested making the institute completely separate from SMU or bringing it under SMU’s control.” The final agreement “does neither,” however, because “Bush’s representatives had made clear to SMU” that the library and the institute were “to be a package.”
Faculty at SMU have found the “all or nothing” pill tough to swallow. Even though the university will have at least one representative on the institute’s board, SMU’s representation will be solely chosen by Bush’s foundation.
Dr. Susanne Johnson, an associate professor at SMU, added that the clause “abdicates all power” to the foundation, allows it to “cherry-pick representatives from SMU to fit their ideological purposes,” and “reduces our representation to something that’s meaningless.”
With Rove’s help, the Bush library will be just like the Bush presidency.