UIC announces 3rd site, submits bid for Obama Presidential Library

UIC announced a third site at a news conference today for its bid to become the future home of the Obama Presidential Library and Museum.

UIC has partnered with the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee, a group of individual community stakeholders, to propose a 23-acre site between West 5th Avenue to the north, South Kildare Avenue to the east, West Roosevelt Road to the south, and South Kostner Avenue to the west. The land is just south of the Eisenhower Expressway and the CTA Blue Line.

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Sen. Patricia Van Pelt review UIC’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library. Photo: Roberta Dupius-Devlin/UIC Photo Services (select image to download larger size)

“The UIC-North Lawndale partnership brings together a major public research university and a community organized for change to further advance the ideals and legacy of President Barack Obama,” said Paula Allen-Meares, UIC chancellor.

“As the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee engaged UIC in partnership discussions, it became evident to us that not only did this institution of higher learning more than meet the criteria set forth by the Barack Obama Foundation, but that we also shared very similar values and vision for our communities,” said Marcus Betts, North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee spokesman.

“This response really isn’t about an ideal site, city or side of town, but the ideals set forth by the 44th president of the United States of America,” said Betts.

“Many children, such as myself, lack the necessary technology and resources to complete school work. The presidential library would supply scholars with computers, books and research texts to help further their education. There are students that aspire for greatness and look to excel in their studies,” said Teya Boyd, an 8th grade scholar at LEARN Charter School in North Lawndale where the community partnership announcement took place.

“It would be a great honor and asset to the North Lawndale community to be the recipients of a great historical establishment.”

Student speaking at lectern

Teya Boyd, 8th grade student from LEARN Charter School in North Lawndale, speaks at today’s press conference. A site next to her school has been added to UIC’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services (select image to download larger size)

Knowing that the president is an avid sports fan, Betts used sport lingo to deliver his message:

“Mr. President and First Lady, North Lawndale has their game face on and has come ready to play.”

UIC’s other proposed sites include Harrison Field, at Harrison and Halsted streets, and a location in the Illinois Medical District at Taylor Street and Ashland Avenue. Both campus sites are accessible by public transit — the UIC/Halsted Blue Line stop is steps away from Harrison Field, and the Polk Street Pink Line station is a short walk from the west campus location.

UIC students are taking a personal approach in the bidding process, making UIC’s case to congressional officers, staffers and meeting with a representative from the Barack Obama Foundation today in Washington. Members of the delegation include Barbara Henley, vice chancellor for student affairs; university librarian Mary Case; North Lawndale community representative Charles Leeks; and UIC students Michael Belmonte, Kris Fuentes Cortes, Jauwan Hall, Mikita Lee, Danielle Leibowitz and Arthur Nishimoto.

UIC would be an ideal site for the future library and museum because its goals align with President Obama’s agenda, Case said.

“UIC is very social justice driven, its student body is highly diverse, and many are the first to go to college in their family,” Case said. “Our research is geared toward innovation but also toward working with populations with disparities in health care and economic status — issues that we believe resonate with President Obama’s agenda.”

The university will now await word from the Barack Obama Foundation as to which bidders are invited to present more detailed plans, Case said.

Belmonte, a second-year medical student in the urban medicine program, plans to tell congressional staffers today how UIC’s health care mission mirrors Obama’s agenda.

“One of the best things about UIC is that we’re able to really provide care to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they can pay, are citizens, or have insurance,” Belmonte said.

The Obama Presidential Library and Museum will be part of the presidential library system, which includes 13 libraries that are part of the National Archives and Records Administration. Funded by the Barack H. Obama Foundation, the newest library will preserve and make available to the public the papers, records and other historical materials that document the lives of President Obama, his family, associates and administration.

The library serves as a permanent historical resource for researchers, students and other visitors from around the world.

Other local bidders who have announced plans to submit proposals before today’s deadline include the University of Chicago, Chicago State University and private Chicago developer Dan McCaffery. Columbia University in New York City and the University of Hawaii also stated their intent to submit proposals.

The UIC-North Lawndale proposal is available online.

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