Obama scales back U of C Hospitals duties

By Nicholas Nardini

Michelle Obama, vice president for Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals, is scaling back her duties in that position to make time for her two young daughters and the presidential campaign of her husband, Senator Barack Obama. She has cut back to one-fifth of the hours she usually puts in at the Hospitals.

Obama’s spokeswoman has said she will be receiving 20 percent of her base salary rate as a result, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

A graduate of Princeton and of Harvard Law School, Obama began her career as an associate at the Chicago branch of Sidney Austin LLP, where she was Senator Obama’s summer mentor. After the death of her father, she began working in the public sector as an assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and then as assistant commissioner of Planning and Development. She joined the University of Chicago as associate dean of Student Services, eventually developing the University’s Community Service Center. She began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002.

Obama has increasingly become the subject of national media attention, as the media has begun to move its attention beyond the new batch of presidential hopefuls to the new batch of potential first spouses.

One story published in the Washington Post last Friday reported that Obama was leaving her University Hospitals position altogether. Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Obama’s spokeswoman, denied the claim and said that the Post would be running a correction soon, although the Post has said it has no plans to print a correction.

“As far as we know she’ll still be working with [the University],” Lelyveld said.