Hints of Obama's post-White House plans circulate

Where will President Obama go post-White Hous... 03:17

With just 16 months left in office, there are hints about President Obama's post-White House plans.

At a convocation on Monday, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said the campus would welcome back Mr. Obama, its "most famous alumnus," in two years. That news, reported by the school's student newspaper, generated headlines across the country.

But the White House was quick to stop the speculation, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

"The president has long talked about his respect for Columbia University... At this point, no decisions have been finalized about his post-presidency plans," the White House said in a statement.

Mr. Obama was full of school pride during a 2012 commencement address at Barnard College for women, Columbia's partner school.

"The year I graduated was 1983, the first year women were admitted to Columbia," he said during his address.

While Chicago will be home to the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the intended placement of the Barack Obama Foundation at Columbia ensures a strong foothold in New York City.

In July, the president and his daughters took a stroll through Central Park. High school senior Malia Obama also toured NYU and Columbia earlier this year.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by his daughters Sasha and Malia, and their friends, walk through Central Park in New York City, Saturday, July 18, 2015. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

"When you look at the history of Barack Obama, Columbia is seen as the place where Barry Obama became Barack Obama," Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa said.

"New York retains a warm spot for President Obama and the first lady. They see themselves teaching and working in non-profit work after they leave the White House, perhaps together, at Columbia University," Costa added.

All the living presidents left Washington, D.C., after their terms ended. Jimmy Carter returned to Georgia, both George Bushes flew south to Texas and Bill and Hillary Clinton moved to Westchester, New York.

Last year, when he was asked where he saw himself in a decade, Mr. Obama hinted at a plan.

"I know what I'll do right after the next president is inaugurated. I'll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut," he said.

For now, it appears Mr. Obama is focused on carrying out the rest of his term.

Officials at Columbia spent much of Monday in post-convocation damage control, saying their president was referring only to the plans for the Obama Foundation, and that "Bollinger's comment ... reflected no further developments."