SMU will host Bush presidential library

By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer

Southern Methodist University will be home to George W. Bush's presidential library, officials formally announced Friday, ending more than a year of negotiations marked by resistance from some faculty and ministers who questioned the deal.

The decision became official as SMU's board of trustees approved an agreement with the Bush Foundation, which will manage construction and raise money for the project, expected to cost more than $200 million.

The only surprise was when - not if - the deal would be announced. First lady Laura Bush is an SMU graduate, and the couple are expected to live in Dallas when Bush leaves office next January.

The library, museum and public policy institute will be on the east part of the 11,000-student, private university in one of Dallas's wealthiest neighborhoods. The library and museum will be run by the National Archives and Records Administration, while the institute will be run by the foundation.

SMU was named the lone finalist in December 2006, edging out the University of Dallas - which withdrew a month later - and Baylor University in Waco near the Bushes' Crawford ranch, which still held out hope for hosting the library until recently.

The Bush Foundation and institute will have separate boards of directors elected every year, but each will have at least one member from SMU. The university and institute also will create an academic advisory committee with representatives from SMU and the foundation to examine joint ventures.

Last spring semester the issue dominated many SMU Faculty Senate meetings as some members voiced their opposition, mostly to the partisan think tank that will promote the Bush administration's views and will not be under SMU's control.

Some Methodist ministers also joined the fray, launching an online petition drive that garnered about 11,000 signatures from those opposed to SMU hosting the library, museum and institute. The group said some Bush administration policies - going to war with Iraq, torturing foreign prisoners - conflict with church teachings.

Despite Friday's announcement, one of the petition organizers said the fight is not over.

The Rev. Andrew Weaver said that although a Methodist mission council gave SMU permission last year to lease land for the project, delegates from a larger church body must vote on that decision. There also could be a lawsuit, he said.

"It's David vs. Goliath, but the first time that fight went on, David did win," said Weaver, a New York research psychologist who graduated from SMU's Perkins School of Theology.

Texas also has the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station and Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin.

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