White House insists Obama has no post-presidency plans as Columbia University rumor swirls

President Obama

President Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day trip aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, and to make a call to action on climate change. 

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The White House insisted Monday that President Obama has made no final decisions about his post-presidential plans, after Columbia University’s president reportedly told new students that the university would welcome back its “most famous alumnus” in two years.

Columbia said in a statement late Tuesday that the remark wasn’t intended to reveal what Obama will do after he leaves office but rather a more general reference to plans being shaped by Obama’s post-presidential foundation. The organization has previously said that it looked forward to a “long-term association” with the school.

Yet the Obama-to-Columbia talk is not new. The New York Post reported in April that Obama was “rumored to be in talks” to teach at its law school after he leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017. Obama transferred to Columbia in 1981 after first enrolling at Occidental College.

But while much has been speculated, little is known about what Obama really has in mind and how he might split time between any of four possible destinations: Washington, where his youngest daughter, Sasha, will still be in high school when his term ends; Chicago, where he rose to political prominence; his native Hawaii; or New York.


“The president has long talked about his respect for Columbia University and his desire to continue working with them,” White House spokesperson Jennifer Friedman said. “However, at this point, no decisions have been finalized about his post-presidency plans.”

Obama mused about life after the White House in May when he visited with David Letterman just before the host retired from the “Late Show.” Perhaps, Obama said, the two could reunite to play dominoes.

“I plan to teach law at Columbia,” Letterman countered, prompting Obama to say: “I’d be interested in sitting in on that class.”

For more White House coverage, follow @mikememoli



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