SIMI VALLEY : Reagan Library Losing Its Director

There will be a changing of the guard at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley this winter, as the library foundation's director moves to the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and his second-in-command takes his place.

Richard Norton Smith, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said Friday that he will take over the Ford library after overseeing a week of celebrations in Simi Valley in February to mark President Reagan's 85th birthday.

Larry Bumgardner, deputy director of the foundation, which runs the library, will take his place.

"I had several job offers, including from other libraries, and so I decided to take advantage of President Ford's very gracious invitation" to run his museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., and his library in Ann Arbor, Mich., Smith said Friday.

Smith said that he would oversee a $4-million reorganization of the Ford collection over 18 months, including re-creations of the White House Situation Room, and the East Room where then-Vice President Ford took the presidential oath of office in 1974.

"That's what I do best, the creative part of the project, the attempt to visualize history and bring it to life," Smith said.

Bumgardner, an adjunct professor of law and political science at Pepperdine University and a former Tennessee journalist, will assume the guiding role of the Reagan library and museum after Smith departs. He could not be reached Friday for comment.

Bumgardner will take the reins just as the Reagan library opens re-creations of the White House Cabinet Room and the Geneva boathouse where Reagan held a historic 1985 summit with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The library also plans to assemble a large exhibit on the United States of the 1960s, and plans are afoot to acquire Marine One, the helicopter that ferried Reagan to and from the White House, Smith said.

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