by

An Obama Library at the U. of Hawaii?

It may be a little early to talk about building the Barack Obama Presidential Library, but universities are starting to line up for the bidding. Last year the University of Chicago contacted the Obama administration to float the idea of building the library there. As Bloomberg News noted, an Obama library would add to the university’s collection of Nobel Prize winners. But when a friend of the president asked him about the prospect, Bloomberg reported, “the response was cool.”

Now the University of Hawaii is trying to lay claim to the presidential legacy, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Obama at least taught at the University of Chicago; he did not attend Hawaii, but other members of his immediate family did. In terms of academic reputation, the university would have an uphill battle against Chicago, not to mention a number of controversies in recent years (among them, serious deferred-maintenance problems).

Presidential libraries can be tourist attractions with economic impact—the AP notes that the William J. Clinton Presidential Library gets 300,000 annual visitors and has generated $1.5-billion in Little Rock, Ark.

A presidential library in Hawaii would be rather remote to the rest of the country. But Reed Dasenbrock, vice chancellor for academic affairs on the university’s Manoa campus, thinks it could still be a draw. “If I’ve been to Honolulu many times, why will I come back the eighth or ninth time? We do believe that [an Obama library] would be an additional attraction here that would bring repeat visitors as well as many first-time visitors,” he told the AP.

It’s also early to think about what the Obama library might look like, but be prepared: The Chronicle will probably repeat our presidential-library contest from a couple of years ago.

Return to Top