Last year, City University of New York chancellor James Milliken penned a letter to President Barak Obama asking him to consider his first post-presidency job: teaching at CUNY.
There was a possibility that the Obama family would be moving to New York, so Milliken took this opportunity as a chance to continue Obama’s legacy in teaching and education.
Before Obama was elected Senator in Illinois, he worked at the University of Chicago from 1992 to 2004, where he taught courses in constitutional law.
Milliken invited Obama to consider teaching law at CUNY, especially because of the “unique public interest focus” at the CUNY School of Law. CUNY’s law school sends 70 percent of its students into public interest and public service law practice, a higher percentage than any other graduate school in the United States.
The chancellor celebrated the fact that “CUNY is, without a doubt, the most New York of New York’s higher education institutions because we reflect and embrace every neighborhood, every demographic group and every strata of the city.”
Milliken’s letter hoped to persuade Obama to join the CUNY community and teach as an educator at one or a few of the 24 undergraduate and graduate schools that make up CUNY.
Milliken wrote that “I particularly want to stress the satisfaction I believe you would find, as I most certainly have, from an involvement with a university deeply committed to many of the same goals and social issues you have worked so hard to advance in the White House.”
After hearing about the chancellor’s letter, Graduate Center President Chase Robinson said he “enthusiastically supports Chancellor Milliken’s invitation.” CUNY law school Dean Mary Lu Bilek said she also “wholeheartedly supports” the prospect of President Obama working in a CUNY school of his choosing.
City College spokesperson Deidra Hill stated in an email that “one of President Barack Obama’s first jobs was at The City College of New York, where he worked for New York Public Research group (NYPIRG) as part of the student chapter on campus.”
“It would be an honor to have President Obama join our staff at Queen’s College. His pluralistic and diverse philosophies, paired with his enthusiasm for making real change in the world, would make him the ideal professor and staff member here at CUNY,” Jennifer Young, a junior, said.
“It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to have President Obama teach at CUNY. What better way is there to learn about our country and its laws than from the President himself?” Alexandra Lumerman, a sophomore, said.
President Obama has since announced that he will continue living in Washington D.C. after he finishes his last term in office.
CUNY spokesman Mike Arena did not make known to the public whether the president responded to Chancellor Milliken. The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.
Obama has expressed that he wishes to return to community organizing. “I’ll go back to doing the kinds of work that I was doing before, just trying to find ways to help people,” he told middle schoolers last year. “Help young people get educations, and help people get jobs, and try to bring businesses into neighborhoods that don’t have enough businesses. That’s the kind of work that I really love to do.”
Obama has also joked that after he retires he would like to host ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10 List.