Delegation to woo Obama library
Campus narrowed its site list to two
A delegation from the University of Illinois at Chicago will travel Monday to Washington, D.C., to deliver its official bid for the Obama Presidential Library and make the case for Chicago's only public research university to host the project.
Six students and two administrators will meet with congressional staff and representatives of the Barack Obama Foundation, which is leading the process of choosing a site for the 44th president's official library.
Meanwhile, the UI Chicago has narrowed the list of potential sites for the library from a half-dozen to two: on the east campus, a grassy area at the northwest corner of Harrison Street and Halsted Aenue; and on the west campus, two corner lots north and south of Taylor Street and west of Ashland Avenue, just east of the UI Hospital.
The Barack Obama Foundation issued a request for qualifications in late March, inviting universities and others to apply by June 16. The foundation will choose a group of bidders to submit a formal proposal and announce the president's selection by early 2015.
The UI is one of five Chicago sites competing for the library, along with the University of Chicago, Chicago State University, a community organization and a real-estate developer. Bids are also expected from Hawaii, the president's home state, and Columbia University in New York, where Obama completed his undergraduate degree.
The University of Chicago is considered the front-runner, as the Obamas lived in Hyde Park and Obama taught constitutional law there for 12 years. Several close Obama associates work at the school.
But the UI argues that its Chicago campus is centrally located in the city, close to other tourist attractions downtown and accessible by expressway, bus or El trains.
UI officials say the campus mission of serving the disadvantaged and its strong research focus also align with Obama's priorities.
The six students traveling to Washington were chosen to reflect those priorities: a medical student interested in health disparities, a Hispanic activist, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a public health student, a student trustee and Pell grant recipient, and a doctoral student specializing in virtual reality applications.
Mary Case, dean of libraries and co-chairwoman of the campus steering committee for the Obama library, and Barbara Henley, vice chancellor for student affairs, will highlight the school's mission of providing access to health care in underserved neighborhoods; its cultural diversity and support for DREAM Act students and student veterans; its $246 million in federally sponsored research; and its efforts to keep higher education affordable, with half of all campus students eligible for Pell grants.
The library's estimated cost is $500 million, to be paid with private funds raised by the foundation. Presidential libraries are run by the National Archives and Records Administration, with ongoing support provided by an endowment and federal funds.