NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Columbia University on Monday downplayed a statement by president Lee Bollinger at a convocation ceremony, which led to reports that President Barack Obama might return to the school after his term ends.
The university said Bollinger had made a statement at the convocation Monday that he was “looking forward to welcoming back Columbia’s most famous alumnus.”
The university said the remark only reiterated a statement by the Barack Obama Foundation back in May saying that “intends to maintain a presence at Columbia University for the purpose of exploring and developing opportunities for a long term association,” the statement said.
The statement said Bollinger’s remarks did not reflect any new developments about Obama’s plans after he leaves office in January 2017.
The Columbia Spectator reported that Bollinger said the university is looking forward to hosting Obama, who received his undergraduate degree from Columbia in 1983. Bollinger did not elaborate in the statement, the newspaper reported.
But the remarks fueled speculation Obama may be taking a faculty position at Columbia when he finishes his second term in office, as CBS Chicago reported.
In May, the Obamas chose the University of Chicago over Columbia as the site for the future Obama presidential library. Obama was a lecturer at the U of C Law School for several years
Columbia had never revealed a great deal about its unsuccessful bid for the library, and had declined to answer questions back in December. But in a statement, the university said last year that it had wanted to put the library in Manhattanville, where Columbia is currently expanding with a satellite campus.
People familiar with Columbia’s proposal, who weren’t authorized to comment publicly and demanded anonymity, said in December that Columbia also had been considering hosting just a part of the broader library project. Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to indicate that the city could be satisfied under that scenario when he told reporters at the White House in December, “We would obviously love to host a piece of it.”
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