Little Rock's Clinton Center Leader to Discuss Presidential Library Impact

April 11, 2006
News Photo 3420James L. (Skip) Rutherford

James L. (Skip) Rutherford, the "major mover" behind the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., will visit Baylor University on Wednesday, May 3, to discuss the value and impact of a presidential library on a local community.

All Baylor faculty, staff, students and area residents are invited to attend the 3:30 p.m. program in the Barfield Drawing Room at the Bill Daniel Student Center on campus. Admission is free. Time will be allotted for questions after Rutherford's presentation. Rutherford also will be the keynote speaker at a dinner for invited city officials and community leaders hosted by Downtown Waco, Inc. that night.

"Skip Rutherford was a major mover and player in bringing the Clinton Library to Little Rock. He has been an integral part of the project since its inception," said Tommye Lou Davis, chief of staff to the chancellor and director of Baylor's Bush Library project. "Skip's leadership of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library Foundation has been a major force behind the success of the Clinton Library. We are fortunate that Skip has agreed to come to Baylor and Waco to share with the community the impact a presidential library can have. I hope that our faculty, staff, students and local residents will take advantage of this important opportunity."

Baylor is one of three finalists for the planned George W. Bush Presidential Library. Also in the running are Southern Methodist University and the University of Dallas. More than 400 Central Texas mayors, representing communities in 129 counties, have endorsed Baylor's bid for the library. Baylor is the closest major university to President and Mrs. Bush's ranch in Crawford, and 80 percent of the state's population is within 200 miles of Baylor.

With the George H.W. Bush Library in College Station and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, a George W. Bush Presidential Library at Baylor would create a triangle of presidential libraries within 90 miles of each other, positioning the region as the most important area in the country for presidential research.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center, located in the heart of Little Rock's River Market District, houses the largest presidential archive and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space, according to the Clinton Foundation's web site, which describes the facility as an "exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages." Opened in November 2004, the center is said to have attracted, directly and indirectly, more than $800 million in downtown revitalization, including new and renovated hotel facilities, numerous cultural activities and even a streetcar line.

Rutherford serves as board chairman of the William J. Clinton Foundation and supervised the planning for the center, which is America's 12th Presidential Library. A former administrative assistant to U.S. Senator David Pryor, (D-AR), he is past president of the Little Rock School Board and has been active in numerous campaigns and initiatives at the local, state and federal levels.

He served as the first executive-in-residence in the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Central Arkansas. He also previously taught at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and Lyon College in Batesville.

Rutherford coordinated the 40th anniversary commemoration of the 1957 crisis at Little Rock Central High School. He also coordinated the dedication of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, only the third new commercial airport to open in the last 25 years.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Rutherford was named the 2006 Tourism Person of the Year at the Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism. Two years ago, he was named Arkansan of the Year by the Arkansas Times newspaper and Headliner of the Year by the Arkansas Press Association.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?