President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, 2014
Evan Vucci—AP
September 15, 2014 4:14 PM EDT

The group of confidants laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama’s post-presidency has narrowed to four the list of universities that could host the president’s future library.

The Obama Foundation, a group of friends, family members, and close aides, announced Monday that four universities have been invited to respond to a detailed request for proposal for the library, which the organization envisions as far more than just a repository for the ex-president’s papers. The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University, and University of Hawaii have been selected to advance in the process, out of 13 initial bids placed earlier this year, with full submissions due to the foundation by Dec. 11, and a final determination expected to be made by the president and first lady in “early 2015.”

According to the document, the Obama foundation is looking for an institution that “creates a new international destination, serves as a gateway to other cultural, civic, and academic resources in the region, [and] establishes a global network to communicate ideas and aspirations.” The group wants respondents to consider ways for the library to collaborate with the school’s academic programs. “The academic collaboration will include an Institute and possibly a degree-seeking program,” the request states.

The universities have been asked to outline their visions for the Institute, as well as what, if any, academic disciplines or new degrees may be part of the program.

The library’s mission, the group states, “Reflects and reinforces the Obama legacy, emits a spirit of optimism and hope, and empowers visitors to create change and make a difference.”

“We were amazed by the quality of responses to our Request for Qualifications and we are grateful to every institution that expressed interest in carrying President Obama’s legacy forward,” said Board Chair Martin Nesbitt in a statement. “These four potential partners have come the farthest in meeting our criteria and have each demonstrated a strong vision for the future Obama Presidential Library. We look forward to working with each institution to further refine their proposals over the coming months, and to presenting our recommendations to the President and First Lady early next year.”

Among the factors being considered are each university’s strategic vision, diversity levels, and experience handling large projects, as well as the demographic makeup of the area surrounding the site. Funding, both from the universities and state and local governments, will be a key determining factor in the decision as well.

 

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