Chancellor Message to Campus

Message from the Chancellor on Obama Presidential Library

I am pleased to announce our candidacy and most fervent hope that the University of Illinois at Chicago will be selected as the site of the Obama Presidential Library and Museum.

As Chicago’s only public research university and one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, UIC is the ideal institution to host the Obama Presidential Library and Museum. Our candidacy follows the recommendation of a task force of deans, administrators and outside advisors who agreed that UIC’s diversity, research, outreach and central location make it uniquely appropriate for the library and museum honoring President Obama’s legacy.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research institutions. It is Chicago’s largest university and home of the state’s major public medical center. Our annual research expenditures of $380 million have led to advances in health care, education and technology that benefit the world, yet we remain grounded in our dedication to educate the broadest range of learners. We are in and of Chicago.

Among our 27,500 students there is no ethnic majority, and 60 percent of our students come from homes in which one of more than 50 foreign languages is spoken. Many students are the first in their families to attend college. Nearly half of all UIC students are eligible for Pell grants, a program the president fought to save and strengthen. A quarter of all UIC students are Latino, and they cheered the president’s leadership and organized in support of the DREAM Act. UIC is also an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution.

The focus of our research and public service echoes President Obama’s signature achievements. Consider:

  • Health-care reform: The hallmark of the Affordable Care Act is expanded access, and UIC is committed to reducing health disparities through clinical care, research, and community outreach. Our hospital and clinics are major providers of care to underserved urban and rural Illinois communities. The UIC College of Medicine is the nation’s largest, and with our five other health sciences colleges comprises the nation’s most diverse comprehensive health sciences center. The UIC Institute for Minority Health Research will lead the Chicago portion of a six-year, multi-center NIH study of Hispanic and Latino Health. Across campus, the UIC Institute for the Humanities spearheads a working group for food studies as related to health and political reform.
  • Education reform: UIC’s Learning Science Research Institute focuses on creating the best tools and methods for K-12 education. The UIC College of Education administers a federally funded pipeline to train teachers for urban schools. A doctoral program was created specifically to train principals to turn around urban schools, and more than 60 Chicago Public Schools with principals in the program now report student improvement well above district average. And UIC is a national leader in Social and Emotional Learning — a proven approach to lowering violence and improving learning outcomes at the same time.
  • Advanced technology: In a 2007 visit to UIC, then-Senator Obama said American students must learn “new technologies that are going to drive the 21st century.”  Students have participated in UIC research that led to breakthroughs like night vision technology and the CAVE virtual reality environment. A new $120 million Department of Energy research center teams UIC with other universities, national labs and corporate partners to develop more powerful, lower-cost storage batteries. On a smaller scale, UIC provides both proof-of-concept and equity investment funding to help faculty and student entrepreneurs transform discoveries into useful products that benefit society.

Looking ahead, UIC’s distinguished faculty in history, political science and public administration will collaborate productively with Obama Presidential Library scholars and visitors. The university’s Richard J. Daley Library, noted for its political archives, holds the personal papers of three Chicago mayors and dozens of the state’s public officials, jurists, journalists and reformers.  UIC is also home to the Hull House Museum, which carries on the work of social activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams.

I look forward to receiving further information on the president’s plans for the selection process. Our candidacy will be advanced by a team that includes a library/museum group, an architecture/site group, an academic programming group and a proposal group; all under the coordination of a steering committee. Each group includes student, faculty, administration, alumni and community-stakeholder representatives.

Tremendous pride and enthusiasm for our university, our community and our uniquely American and global city have sparked our desire to be considered for the honor of serving as the site for the Obama Presidential Library.  I call on all of UIC’s friends, partners, and collaborators to join us in our bid for selection.

Sincerely,
Paula Allen-Meares
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
John Corbally Presidential Professor