Northwestern collaborating with UChicago on bid for Obama presidential library

Shane McKeon and Emily Chin

The University of Chicago hopes to add potential collaboration with 17 Chicago-area schools, including Northwestern, to its bid for the Obama Presidential Library.

University spokesman Al Cubbage said UChicago reached out to NU and asked for support in both the bid process and the potential library development process if selected as the library’s location.

“Obviously when you’re putting together a proposal you want to make it as strong as you can,” he said. “One of the things the University of Chicago did was bring in support from other institutions, which we were very happy to do.”

Cubbage also said UChicago was specifically interested in NU’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and its potential role in assisting the library development process.

“One of the things Northwestern can bring to bear is the strength of its journalism programs,” Cubbage said. “It was the idea of having Northwestern use one of its key strengths to bolster the proposal.”

Cubbage said the library would also hopefully serve NU faculty who could benefit from the library’s documents in their research.

The news of the potential collaboration comes three months after President Barack Obama spoke on campus and almost a year after a video message from him was shown at Dance Marathon. Cubbage said although Obama is more tied to UChicago because he taught law there, the president’s connection to NU is undeniable.

“Northwestern has a large number of alums who work in the Obama administration,” he said. “So obviously, for Northwestern it’s a great opportunity to continue our association with President Obama and the Obama administration.”

Cubbage said NU never considered submitting a proposal for the presidential library and museum.

However, Obama Presidential Library officials have concerns with the bid because neither UChicago nor the city fully control the proposed Chicago site. The proposed site might “invite controversy,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The article said the officials are hesitant about the proposal because they want to make sure the library can be built on time. Having a site not controlled by the university could hinder that.

The University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Hawaii also submitted bids for the library.

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Twitter: @Shane_McKeon

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