SMU historians criticize Bush library agreement

Historians in the News

... The final agreement released on Monday sketches rules for the relationship, and it appears to have satisfied some but not all of the Faculty Senate's requests. The university and the institute will form an academic advisory committee, with an equal number of personnel from both parties, to oversee concurrent appointments and to develop joint projects.

In an e-mail message to The Chronicle on Monday, Edward S. Countryman, a professor of history and a member of the Faculty Senate, said he was hopeful about the ground rules for concurrent appointments. On this matter Southern Methodist's president, R. Gerald Turner, has been responsive to the faculty's concerns, Mr. Countryman believes.

But Mr. Countryman is much less happy about provisions that allow the university to make two appointments to the Bush foundation's board of directors and at least one appointment to the policy institute's board of directors. Those provisions, Mr. Countryman wrote, are much too weak, because the foundation retains the right to reject a particular nominee and to ask the university to try again until it names someone acceptable to the foundation.

"The veto power seems absolute and discretionary on the Bush foundation's part," Mr. Countryman wrote, "and seems to point, as I would have feared anyway, toward ... , instead of the open discussion of the Bush Presidency that I think the Presidential Records Act is intended to bring about, a situation where dissenting opinion will have no place."

That opinion was echoed by Alexis McCrossen, an associate professor of history and a member of the Faculty Senate. The foundation's veto power "is problematic, to put it lightly," she said in an interview.

During the last year, SMU's administration has given the Senate too little information about what the foundation wanted, Ms. McCrossen said, with the result that "we were arguing in a vacuum."

But Ms. McCrossen added that she was happy about one element of the contract: a clause that requires all parties to tell the public that the policy institute is not part of Southern Methodist. (The university's name should not appear on the institute's letterhead, for example.) "I'm very pleased that that made that explicit," she said. "That's something that many of us were concerned about."...
Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Ed

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