The University of Illinois at Chicago has thrown its hat into the ring of institutions competing to house Barack Obama's future presidential library and museum.
UIC announced its plan to bid for the library Sunday with a university spokesman saying the school is exploring "at least five sites" on its Near West Side campus, the Tribune reports.
"Our candidacy follows the recommendation of a task force of deans, administrators and outside advisers who agreed that UIC's diversity, research, outreach and central location make it uniquely appropriate for the library and museum honoring President Obama's legacy," UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares told the Tribune.
Among UIC's Chicago-based competition is the University of Chicago (where the president was a lecturer at its law school for more than a decade); Chicago State University; and even the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville.
As the Associated Press notes, Obama has no formal ties to UIC or Chicago State while his link to U of C is strong. In addition to being near Obama's private South Side residence, the Sun-Times notes many potential library donors in Obama's circle have strong ties to U of C (his former strategist, David Axelrod, recently founded the school's Institute of Politics).
U of C has been quietly stepping up its campaign for an Obama library, with the Sun-Times reporting officials have already tapped an architectural standout, Chicago-based Jeanne Gang, to assess sites near the campus.
In addition to the prestige of housing a presidential library and museum, UIC Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy notes such institutions can be "great economic engines" for the local community. Ultimately, the choice is entirely up to Obama.
Speaking on sites in both Hawaii and Illinois vying for Obama's library, the president said in May, "It is a tough choice, but it's not one that I've made yet."
The president considers both states "home," according to an interview he gave with a Honolulu-based ABC affiliate earlier this year.
"Honolulu is my birthplace. It's the place where I grew up, and I met so many friends and fond memories, and it helped to shape me, so I'd like to find a way that after my presidency that connection remains," Obama said. "But, you know, I live in Chicago now, and that's where I grew up professionally."
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