Most SMU students know the George W. Bush Library is on campus. Some know there is also a museum. But few know much about the adjoining Bush Institute.
“I actually didn’t know at all what they did, so I learned a lot coming here,” said Haley Stutts, a first-year from Atlanta.
Stutts and 10 other first-year President’s Scholars toured the Bush Institute Friday. The group learned about what the center does and how students can get involved.
The Bush Institute is the privately funded sector of the Bush Center. Whereas the Bush Library receives federal funding and focuses on sharing history, the Institute is operated through private donations and engages people with the future.
“There’s a lot going on here — and there’s a lot in the works,” said Harold Stanley, the associate provost who oversees the President’s Scholars program.
Stanley, program coordinator Martha Starke and Joe Kobylka, SMU professor and faculty sponsor to the President’s Scholars, joined the first-years on their tour.
Kobylka, who teaches political science, sees the Institute as a great resource to students looking to get involved in ideas they are passionate about.
“I think the Institute offers students a really terrific opportunity to get involved in the broad range of issues of importance, not only in SMU, but in Dallas and worldwide,” Kobylka said.
The Bush Institute has six primary branches of initiatives including economic growth, education reform, global health, human freedom, military service and women’s initiative.
“One of the greatest things about working here is that everyone wants to do everything,” said Patrick Kobler, who led the tour and works in the education reform initiative of the Institute.
Each of these branches has several programs underneath it, making the Institute a dynamic place for conversation.
For example, the Military Service Initiative has many events that benefit veterans like the Warrior Open, an annual golf tournament, and the W100K, a 100-kilometer bike race where wounded veterans join President George Bush.
The Women’s Initiative includes endeavors like the Afghan Women’s Project, which publicizes the hardships and triumphs of Afghan women and draws attention to organizations that can help such women.
Stutts, a biochemistry and health and society major, found this area the most interesting.
“I loved hearing about the women’s initiative, and I really want to hear more about how I can help them, through internships or otherwise,” Stutts said.
Manny Rangel, a statistics major from Fort Worth, was drawn to the education reform area of the Institute. Rangel spent the past two summers working with the education program Breakthrough, and would like to get involved with the Institute’s education programming.
“I found interesting all of their different initiatives and how they are trying to improve the world,” he said.
In striving to lead these initiatives, the Institute is a nonpartisan organization.
“Even though we are led by a former Republican president, the center is not about politics, it’s about progress,” Kobler said.
The Institute wants students to get involved in these nonpolitical initiatives by attending events, spreading the word, volunteering and interning at the center.
“We’re really looking at how we can partner with SMU and its student body more,” Kobler said.
Students can learn more about what the Institute does and how they can get involved at BushCenter.org.