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November 27, 2013 11:11 PM The President’s Library: Don’t Call Him; He’ll Call You

By Daniel Luzer

Library

With less than four years left until the end of the administration of President Barack Obama, the president hasn’t decided yet where to put his papers (he probably has more important things about which to worry). Some colleges and universities are apparently pretty eager to take advantage of some of that Obama prestige. According to an article at the Huffington Post:

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….

And there’s competition!

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.

Is this really how it works? The colleges “bid” to have the library? I thought it was the president who selected it and then the college could decide if it wanted the library.

My prediction: neither University of Illinois at Chicago nor Chicago State will get the presidential library. “Throwing your hat in the ring” isn’t how it’s done. Begging “oh, oh, pick me, Mr. President” is really just sort of tacky. It’s a presidential library, not a MacDonald’s franchise.

Chicago State is perhaps the most laughable. It has a pretty hard time even performing the basic functions of a university—it appears to have a graduation rate in the 20 percent range, its president recently stepped down after less than four years, and it’s one of those institutions that regularly promises massive reforms and a “totally new direction”—it’s hardly in a position to taking on new projects and becoming a center for presidential scholarship.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

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