Competition to get Bush library starts

Ruth Campbell
Midland Reporter Telegram
07/24/2005

Some are mum, but others have gotten off to a fast start in the quest to host the George W. Bush presidential library.

Among those invited to submit proposals to a three-member panel are the city of Arlington, Southern Methodist University, University of Dallas, Baylor, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas System, Texas A&M University and Midland College.

Baylor has been working on the proposal for four years, spearheaded by Chancellor Robert Sloan. "He just got the vision of how great it would be for Baylor to host the presidential library," said Tommye Lou Davis, chief of staff to the chancellor and chair of the University Planning Committee.

About 100 people are involved in Baylor's efforts, including Baylor graduate and former Midland Mayor Bobby Burns. Davis said the proposal is now being "fine-tuned" and should soon be ready for print.

Davis said the list of committee members will be part of the proposal, but they aren't distributing it. The university also hasn't started the fundraising process.

Estimates are it could take $50 million to $200 million to build the library. The Clinton library cost $160 million.

"I think it's important to the American people, the children of America, to have an opportunity to learn about the great history of this country," said former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, who is advancing the library site selection process.

"It's important for researchers to have the records of the presidency available to them, so they can write a history of the country and a history of the presidency," he said.

"Libraries can serve the purpose of continuing a president's vision," in this case freedom, democracy, compassionate conservatism and education, Evans said.

"It can serve as a place of learning and a place of leadership for the important issues of this community and the world," he added.

The University of Texas System formed a special ad hoc advisory committee in February to steer work on the presidential library proposal. The committee is chaired by James Huffines and co-chaired by Tom Loeffler, former chairman of the UT Board of Regents and a former congressman and Peter T. Flawn, president emeritus of UT Austin and former president of UT San Antonio.

All UT institutions are being invited to participate and contribute ideas and proposals to the committee, a news release said. Appointments to the committee include George S. Bayoud Jr. of Dallas; Louis A. Beecherl Jr. of Dallas; Michelle Brock of Midland; Jan Felts Bullock of Austin; Pam Gilbert of Houston; Sandy Kress of Austin; Lowell H. Lebermann Jr. of Austin.

Also, Dr. Teresa (Terry) Lozano Long of Austin; Wales H. Madden Jr. of Amarillo; Patrick C. Oxford of Houston; William Eugene (Gene) Powell of San Antonio; Raul Romero of Washington, D.C., and Allan (Bud) Shivers of Austin.

According to the Southern Methodist University Web site, the school is keeping quiet about its plans to go for the library. Attempts to reach a spokesperson about the project were unsuccessful Friday.

Texas Tech will discuss its chance to try for the library at its next board of regents meeting Aug. 12, according to a news release.

"Lubbock would be a great place for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and we are honored to be asked to submit a proposal. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush spent quality years in West Texas. They met and married and began their business, professional and political careers in this region. They are loved in West Texas and have the enthusiastic support of great friends in this part of the state," Texas Tech University System Board of Regents Chairman Rick Francis said.

"The success of such an enormous project would require leadership and resources from the entire West Texas region. Should a regional leadership committee come together and raise necessary funds to bring the presidential library to Lubbock, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents will enthusiastically support those efforts. If efforts reach this point, Texas Tech University - for its part - would provide land and seek to integrate the library with its academic endeavors."

Texas A&M University has announced formation of a presidential library committee at its board of regents meeting Friday. The college is already home to the George H.W. Bush presidential library.

Committee chair is Lowry Mays, San Antonio; members are Phil Adams, Bryan; Bill Jones, Austin; Erle Nye, Dallas; and John D. White of The Woodlands, president of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

"We're honored to receive an invitation to make a proposal for President Bush's library," White said in a statement. "We have some clear ideas on the direction for the proposal and will make an annoucement when appropriate."