A hearing on spending $100 million to build President Obama’s presidential library focused not on whether it’s worth the investment, but where in Chicago it should be built.
No one opposed to the bill testified to the House Executive Committee at a hearing Thursday. Instead, the topic was which college should be picked as the library’s site. The University of Illinois-Chicago claimed it’s the most accessible for visitors from around the state and the US.
“Located only a mile from downtown, UIC lies at the heart of the city’s rail, air, interstate, and mass transit lines,” said UIC student trustee Danielle Leibowitz.
Chicago State University said it has the most to gain. “The Obama library would provide…our entire university with an incredible opportunity,” said CSU professor Deborah Lynch.
While the University of Chicago, where Obama was once a constitutional law instructor, warned that Illinois could lose the library to other states. “It is our understanding that both New York and Hawaii will make very serious bids,” said Susan Sher, executive vice president for corporate strategy and public Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Sher was once First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.
Proposals from potential library sites are due on June 16, with a final decision expected early next year. The $100 million in state funding would be part of new capital construction bill that would have to be approved by legislators.
The House Executive Committee passed the idea unanimously, and now heads to the full House for consideration.