Will Bush Presidential Library Compromise "Academic Freedom"?

Texas-based reporter Ralph Blumenthal digs up a story previously played up last month in Inside Higher Education, "Faculty at S.M.U. Voices Concern About Bush Library."

"Intimates of President Bush have singled out Southern Methodist University as the likely site of his presidential library, but faculty members, complaining of being bypassed, are raising sharp questions about the school's identification with his presidency," Blumenthal writes in Wednesday's edition.


"The complex under discussion would include a public policy institute independent of the university and answerable to a Bush foundation, while the library and a museum would be under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration. But control of presidential documents remains a subject of dispute.

"About 150 of the university's 600 faculty members attended the meeting, voicing a range of concerns, particularly on whether the school's academic freedom and political independence might appear compromised by an association with not only the Bush library but also a museum that would accompany it."

Blumenthal fails to provide any historical context - in fact, the library of every other president (including mediafavorite Bill Clinton) includes a museum and archives. Yet when it comes to Republican Bush, there's a sudden concern for "academic freedom" among the no-doubt politically neutral professors at SMU. It's hard to believe there's no knee-jerk liberal Bush-bashing going on here (the Inside Higher Ed story at least provides some hints to that effect), but Blumenthal portrays the concern as simply one of preserving "academic freedom."