What Would Obama Do At Columbia University If The Rumors He's Returning After His Term Are True?
As the 2016 election season continues, President Obama is just a year and a half away from the end of his second term. Back in May, Market Watch reported rumors that Obama might teach at Columbia University after he leaves office in January 2017, although former presidential aide Reggie Love told BuzzFeed at the time that the Obamas were going to remain in Washington until their daughter Sasha's 2019 high school graduation. However, according to the Columbia Daily Spectator, the university newspaper, university president Lee Bollinger made a comment at convocation on Monday that he is looking forward to welcoming Columbia's "most famous alumnus" back in 2017.
Following convocation, Columbia issued a statement clarifying Bollinger's comment, saying that it "only reiterated the May 12 statement by the Barack Obama Foundation that it 'intends to maintain a presence at Columbia University for the purpose of exploring and developing opportunities for a long term association.'" The statement continued to say that Bollinger's comment was not in any way a reflection of Obama's plans following his second term. White House Deputy Press Secretary Jen Friedman also pushed back on the speculation in a statement to Politico.
The President has long talked about his respect for Columbia University and his desire to continue working with them. However, at this point no decisions have been finalized about his post-Presidency plans.
It seems that at least for the moment, Obama hasn't yet made a decision about what he will do after he leaves the White House, but the stir Bollinger caused with his comment is understandable given Obama's numerous connections to the school. He graduated from Columbia in 1983, and his daughter Malia was spotted touring Columbia earlier this year, among other schools in the New York City area. Additionally, as indicated in the statement from Columbia, the Barack Obama Foundation wants to maintain some sort of official presence at the school even thought it lost out on the presidential library.
The possibility that Obama would return to Columbia as a professor is also not remotely unbelievable. He was once a law professor at the University of Chicago, and might want to return to teaching once he has wrapped up his presidency. If anything, the fact that the Obamas have wanted to give their daughters relatively normal lives — and that Sasha will not graduate from high school in the D.C. area for a few more years — is perhaps one of the strongest obstacles to Obama's return to academia.
Between Obama and Amal Clooney — who teaches a course on human rights — Columbia could finally overcome its connections with Dr. Oz with some incredible faculty members if the president decides to pursue that path.