Obama Library bid goes to University of Chicago

OPL North Lawndale

Students at Sumner Math and Science Academy at a rally for the UIC-North Lawndale Obama Library proposal after the bid was submitted Dec. 11. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services


Although UIC was among four finalists to host the Obama Presidential Library, the Barack Obama Foundation has selected the University of Chicago as the home for the library and museum.

“We congratulate U of C and we are excited that the library and museum will be in Chicago,” Chancellor Michael Amiridis said in a statement after the announcement Tuesday.

“We hope there will be opportunities for UIC students and scholars to engage in academic collaborations with the library and museum. We thank the foundation for considering UIC and for visiting our campus.”

The library and museum will be built on one of the two South Side sites proposed by the University of Chicago. The foundation plans to select either Washington or Jackson Park in the next few months.

“With a library and a foundation on the South Side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago,” President Obama said in a video released Tuesday on the Barack Obama Foundation website.

UIC was named among four finalists for the library in September, along with University of Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Hawaii.

“I want to acknowledge the leadership and commitment of Chancellor Emeritus Paula Allen Meares. Without her vision, UIC would not have been a finalist for the presidential library,” Amiridis said.

UIC administrators, faculty, staff and students worked with community groups in North Lawndale over the past 17 months to prepare UIC’s bid.

“The campus is grateful for the time and skill they devoted to this project,” Amiridis said.

“We forged a stronger relationship with our community partners in North Lawndale. And we showed the city, nation and indeed the world that ours is a unique institution — woven into the cultural fabric of Chicago and profoundly committed to educating underrepresented populations and eliminating disparities in underserved communities.”

UIC proposed three sites: Harrison Field at Harrison and Halsted Streets; a location in the Illinois Medical District at Taylor Street and Ashland Avenue; and a 23-acre North Lawndale site in partnership with the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee.

UIC’s plan proposed a cultural and civic corridor extending from the lakefront Museum Campus through UIC to North Lawndale.

“While our bid to host the library was not successful, we have much to show for our effort,” Amiridis said.

“We took stock of the academic and physical assets of our campus. We conceived of new scholarly programs and civic, cultural and neighborhood developments that are truly visionary and inspiring — we hope that some of this vision can yet be realized.”

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