Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gov. Mike Beebe's papers to be housed at Arkansas State University

Posted By on Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 3:58 PM

click to enlarge OFFICE COMING: Gov. Mike Beebe stands where his Capitol office will be recreated as part of a tribute to him at his alma mater, Arkansas State University. - ASU
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  • OFFICE COMING: Gov. Mike Beebe stands where his Capitol office will be recreated as part of a tribute to him at his alma mater, Arkansas State University.

Gov. Mike Beebe's
gubernatorial papers are going to his 1968 alma mater, Arkansas State University. ASU is going to create a shrine to Beebe at the V.C. Kays House and Dean B. Ellis Library with "interactive presentations of the governor's legacy in public service and illustrate Beebe's role in major Arkansas history issues."

The news release lists the Lakeview school decision, the ARKids insurance expansion and the recent adoption of the private option expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare as being among Beebe's achievements.

ASU plans to establish the Governor Mike Beebe Economic Development and Education Institute "to develop Arkansas leaders who value the role of education in economic expansion, cultivate pragmatic ideas that lead to transformative change and perpetuate the legacy of the 45th governor of Arkansas. A-State will create an annual summit to bring together leaders in education, business and government to the Institute."

If Beebe is to have any official role in any of these undertakings in retirement from public life, the news release doesn't say.

ASU said it would take $650,000 to get the initiative off the ground and hopes for private contributions. (I'm reminded that a similar promise to establish a center for former Gov. Mike Huckabee at his alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University, has languished for lack of money since he left office eight years ago.)

ASU also hopes to raise money for an endowed chair of political science named for Beebe and a Beebe scholars program. Plans include re-creation of the governor's office in the living room of the Kays House, already a recipient of $200,000 in state money and $80,000 in private money for restoration. A 600-square-foot area of the library will be renovated for a Beebe exhibit.

Offhand, I can't think of a previous Arkansas governor who has enjoyed such a singular public effort. Bill Clinton, of course, is well-remembered in his presidential library. The fortune left by Winthrop Rockefeller paid for the tribute to him at his former ranch on Petit Jean Mountain, now a part of the University of Arkansas.

An archivist will be hired this fall to process Beebe materials. He'd previously given his papers as state senator and attorney general to ASU.

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