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Hawaii to play undetermined role in Barack Obama Foundation

HONOLULU (AP) — The Barack Obama Foundation has selected Chicago as its home, but the group still plans to collaborate in some way with the University of Hawaii.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner said Tuesday that it’s clear that the foundation wants to have a presence in Hawaii, and that the university will be working with the foundation over the next few months to figure out what the relationship will be. Hawaii had submitted a bid to build the presidential library in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students, faculty and staff and the entire state and will only enrich the educational experience here at the University,” Lassner said at a news conference. “While we’re not building that magnificent facility at Kakaako that we proposed, I think that there will be decades of benefit to the state as a result of putting in the proposal, getting on the radar and clearly attracting the attention of president, that he wants to be doing something here related to his legacy and with the University of Hawaii, very specifically.”

Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s sister and a member of the foundation’s board of directors, said Hawaii presented a compelling plan, and that the foundation plans to develop joint programs with the University of Hawaii and other local partners.

The foundation also intends to have a presence at Columbia University in New York, according to a news release from the Hawaii Presidential Center Initiative.

Obama’s policy of pivoting attention to the Asia-Pacific region and the fact that the island chain has direct flights throughout the region helped the state, said Gov. David Ige.

“Our location in the Pacific, his early years spent here really did shape his thinking in a lot of different ways,” Ige said of the president.

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