University of Chicago submits final Obama library bid

Staff Writer

The University of Chicago submitted its final bid last week to bring the Obama Presidential Library to the South Side.

In the run up to the Thursday deadline more details were released about what the university presented to the Obama Foundation, including information on other institutions it would partner with, if selected as the host organization.

Obama’s foundation accepted final bids from the U. of C., the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Hawaii and Columbia University in New York.

The final decision will be left up to Barack and Michelle Obama. An announcement is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

Locations the U. of C. pitched to the first couple include Garfield Boulevard near Washington Park; 63rd Street near Stony Island Avenue and 71st Street near the South Shore Cultural Center.

U. of C. emphasized that it submitted a “collaborative” bid, by partnering with half a dozen other Chicago-area universities and colleges and more than 40 South Side nonprofits.

“Collaboration is at the core of our proposal. That means bringing together community groups that are tackling big social issues, and assembling scholars who will add their own creativity and intellectual energy,” said Susan Sher, senior advisor to President Robert J. Zimmer. “The South Side and the University of Chicago have unique strengths that can help make this a presidential library like no other — deeply engaged in policy and civic leadership, with the global reach of an ambitious research enterprise.”

Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago State University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology are all in talks to create a partnership with the U. of C.

Should the presidential library come to the South Side, the U. of C. said in a statement that the institutions would work to develop programs. Programs the partner institutions would help to develop would involve research, teaching and outreach in a variety of fields.

Northwestern University proposed developing the library as a “newsroom” that its graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications could use as a home base for reporting on the South Side.

DePaul faculty members are interested in working with the library on issues relating to homelessness, health care, access to higher education and giving victims of youth violence an outlet for change.

IIT has proposed using technology to explore policy decisions, the creation of culture in a digital age and the effect that social media has on communication and relationships.

Chicago State University proposed collaborating with the library in fields like urban agriculture and aquaponics; community and civic engagement; fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); community and civic engagement and the effect of social media and communication on relationships.

SAIC is interested in helping the library become an urban aggregator that would produce creative solutions in fields of sustainability and urban agriculture. It would be a partner on a service incubator that would give art students creative avenues for serving communities. SAIC would also create on-site exhibitions, performances and collaborations.

Loyola researchers want to create joint efforts to advance the rights of children, examine the science and policy implications of young adults who engage in criminal activity but have not reached full developmental maturity and prepare students for careers that create a sustainable environment.

The U. of C. has also courted collaborative efforts with South Side and national nonprofits.

The Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the KLEO Community Family Life Center in Washington Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, the DuSable Museum of African American History, XS Tennis and Education Foundation and the Network of Woodlawn have all have all proposed to work with the Obama Library if it comes to the South Side.

The U. of C. said in a statement it had more than 200 meetings with stakeholders at all levels.

As part of its preparations the university put together a Community Advisory Board made up of South Side stakeholders. It included then-president of the DuSable Museum of African American History Carol Adams; historian Timuel Black; Guy Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute; David Mosena, president of the Museum of Science and Industry; South East Chicago Commission President Shirley Newsome; Apostolic Church of God pastor Byron Brazier; president of Cambium LLC Michelle Collins; president of the Comer Science and Education Foundation Guy Comer; Vice President of Corporate External Affairs at Rush Hospital Terry Peterson; Chairman and CEO of Loop Capital Jim Reynolds Jr.; Chicago Urban League President and CEO Andrea Zopp; and CEO David Vitale.

Kenwood resident and Obama’s friend and campaign manager Marty Nesbitt is leading the foundation.