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SMU is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the presidential archives of the Bush Administration, a museum with permanent and traveling exhibits and an independent public policy institute.

The dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on April 25, 2013, brought members of the prestigious so-called Presidents’ Club to SMU.

Bush Center Dedication
Former President George W. Bush at the podium (center) as (l. to r.) First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, former First Lady Barbara Bush, former President George H. W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter, and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter look on.

President Barack Obama joined former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to dedicate the new Bush Center.

The event drew more than 10,000 invited guests, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other former heads of state. More than 500 members of the SMU community watched the simulcast in McFarlin Auditorium or at an outdoor viewing screen.

In his remarks, Bush thanked SMU, noting that President R. Gerald Turner runs “a fantastic university.” He said SMU students are “awesome,” drawing cheers from students in the audience.

President Obama remarked that the dedication was a “Texas-sized party.” He said all former presidents are a “support group,” and noted Bush’s “incredible strength and resolve” after the attacks of  9-11.  Referring to what all former presidents have in common, he said, “We all love this country and we do our best.”

Located on a 23-acre site on the east side of campus, the Bush Center houses the Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute. The Library and Museum opened to the public May 1, 2013.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is the 13th such resource in the nation operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency. The George W. Bush Institute, an independent public policy organization, reports to the Bush Foundation. All three occupy a 226,565-square-foot-building surrounded by grounds featuring Texas prairie landscaping.   

"The Bush Library and Museum is a state-of-the-art research center for historians, scholars, students and the public,” said Alan Lowe, Director of the Library and Museum.  “We provide in-depth access to presidential materials and the presidential decision-making process.”

The archives and artifacts of the George W. Bush Administration include 80 terabytes of digital information, more than 200 million e-mails and more than 43,000 artifacts.

Fireworks form a W at SMU's Block Party celebrating the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Fireworks form a "W" at SMU's Block Party celebrating the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center (Photo by Nancy George).

The George W. Bush Institute focuses on programs and research resulting in action in the areas of education reform, global health, economic growth and human freedom. Through its Women’s Initiative, the Institute addresses the needs and opportunities of women as agents of change in society. Its Women’s Fellowship program has an initial focus on empowering women of the Middle East.  The Institute’s military initiative honors U.S. servicemen and women and their families.

“The resources of the Bush Center provide unique learning experiences for our students, as well as research opportunities for our faculty and scholars around the world,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few students have the privilege of attending college with the historic resources of a Presidential Library on their campus, and the Bush Presidency represents a unique time in the nation’s history. We’re grateful that President and Mrs. Bush chose SMU to host these resources, which also provide great benefits to our region.”

SMU was selected as the site of the Bush Center in February 2008 after competing with six other institutions. The former president has said that he wanted his Library, Museum and Institute to be associated with a distinguished national university. SMU also has the benefit of being well-situated in Dallas, a major metropolitan area in the heartland of the nation.

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