HOUSTON -- Southern Methodist University has all but won the competition to host a $200 million George W. Bush presidential library. Officials announced this week that the school will be the "sole focus" of talks next month.
That means the two other finalists - Baylor University and the University of Dallas - will wait on the sidelines as the selection committee enters what chairman Don Evans in a statement called the "next phase of deliberations."
A final decision could come in late January or early February.
SMU, in an upscale area north of downtown Dallas, had an edge from the start, largely because of its Bush connections. Laura Bush is an SMU graduate and a member of the school's Board of Trustees. Vice President Dick Cheney also served on the trustee board and was a diplomat-in-residence at the school's John Taylor Center for Political Studies. The university is the alma mater of Bush adviser Karen Hughes and one-time White House counsel Harriet E. Miers.
The Bushes lived in Dallas from 1988 to 1994 and have indicated that they'll return after leaving the White House in 2009.
School officials declined to talk about the library's design or where it might be built. It will be financed with private donations. It will be the third presidential library in Texas, after the Lyndon B. Johnson library at the University of Texas at Austin and the George Bush library at Texas A&M; University.