Former president George W. Bush speaks at Hart Leadership Forum

By: Nicholas Petrucelli

The 43rd president of the United States received a standing ovation as he marched onto the stage in SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium Tuesday morning. Former President George W. Bush kept the mood light-hearted and his advice influential as he talked to the crowd. He even threw in a few jokes.

“You don’t have to be an A student to be president, and I proved that,” Bush joked.

From flipping the coin at football games, to classroom guest lecturer, and even a casual attendee at basketball games, George W. Bush has been a prominent figure around SMU’s campus. This time he was a guest for the 2016 Hart Global Leaders Forum. The forum allows for selected high school students to earn an opportunity to interact with prominent national leaders.

“I’ve always been a fan of President Bush,” said senior Hunt Scholar Harrison McGregor. “It was a huge honor to be able to watch him speak, and I took a lot of his advice to heart.”

SMU President R. Gerald Turner, who mediated the event, walked on stage and introduced the event as a historic occasion. He opened up asking the president about the recent election.

“It was not one of my goals to be president, but if you’re a loving person you can inspire others,” he said. “It is important for leaders to rise above criticism.”

President Bush had eight full years of holding the presidential office, and during his first year, he was faced with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. President Turner asked him what conclusions he made about leadership after the terrorist attacks. Bush reflected on the tough time, and credits the American citizens for coming together.

“The American People rose up in compassion, and the basic core of America is deep compassion for our citizenry,” he said.

The former president covered a wide variety of subjects, but kept the idea theme of the night focused on building future leaders.

“Growing up I looked up to President Bush and believe he handled his time as president well,” said Senior Hunt Scholar Zachary Bubrosky. “I’m hoping one day to hold a leadership position, and I think Bush’s presidency would be a great person to base myself off of.”

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