Last week, Univ. of Chicago Professor Charles Lipson caused a local storm and became a Chicago celebrity, when he conducted an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times, opposing a secret movement to bring the Obama Presidential library and museum to the University of Chicago. As a result of the news story, Lipson made appearances on both local TV and radio, as well as CNN and the Fox Business Network. The newspaper then ran an editorial endorsing Lipson’s position.
Now, an article in Chicago Magazine by author Carol Felsenthal provides all the information about the outcome. It is a fascinating article on this outspoken professor, once a liberal Democrat who now has registered as a Republican and intends to vote for Mitt Romney in the presidential election.
Lipson’s objection to the plan to bring the presidential museum to the University is because, as he says, a “celebratory museum” is “inappropriate for our school.” If the project included a think tank and a foundation as well, he argues that it would raise questions about how they got their money, and Lipson fears that they would have a bias that would “downplay anything that was negative” and might become “a political and ideological arm of whatever president” was being honored.
Most upsetting is that Lipson reveals that Susan Sher, a close friend of Barack Obama and former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, who had worked closely with the First Lady when she was an officer at the University’s Medical Center, was a member of a secret committee established to study whether the Library and Museum should come to the U of C. Lipson is afraid that the “highest levels” of the University had considered the Library coming to the U of C a done deal, and hence had appointed a committee that included Sher in its ranks, so as to assure a positive outcome. Lipson considers the committee nothing but a fig leaf that would produce a faculty report favoring bringing the Obama museum to the University.
Lipson was so convincing that the Chicago Sun-Times, that ran his op-ed, then ran an editorial endorsing his position.
U of C liberals are not too happy with him. As Lipson puts it, “there are some people who think I’m crazy.”
Those of us who have fought the battle for real freedom in academia owe Professor Lipson our thanks. He has, possibly, made the Obama Presidential Museum and Library a building that now will not be part of the University of Chicago.