Lee Bollinger Named Columbia’s 19th President

Lee Carroll Bollinger ’71L, president of the University of Michigan since 1997, has been named George Rupp’s successor as head of Columbia effective July 1, 2002. The news of his appointment, which was approved at the October meeting of the University Trustees, attracted widespread attention in both the local and national media.

A native of Santa Rosa, California, the 55-year-old Bollinger earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1968 before enrolling at Columbia, where he was an articles editor of the Columbia Law Review. After serving as law clerk for Judge Wilfred Feinberg ’40C ’46L on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Chief Justice Warren Burger on the U.S. Supreme Court, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973 and was named dean in 1987.

Bollinger left Ann Arbor on being named provost and professor of government at Dartmouth College in 1994, but returned just three years later in his new role as the University of Michigan’s twelfth president.

He is not the only member of his family with existing ties to Columbia. His wife, Jean Magnano Bollinger ’71TC, graduated with him from the University of Oregon and then added a master’s in education and psychology from Teachers College after the couple’s arrival on Morningside Heights. A co-founder of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and an artist whose work has been exhibited in Michigan, Vermont, and New Hampshire, Ms. Magnano Bollinger maintains an active community involvement in many areas of social service and education.

The couple’s daughter, Carey, is a Harvard graduate who currently attends Columbia Law School as a member of the Class of 2002. Their son, Lee, holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan Law School.

The announcement of Lee Bollinger’s appointment as president of Columbia came from Trustee Chair David J. Stern ’66L, whose letter to the Columbia community appears below. The search committee was headed by Trustee Chair Emeritus Henry L. King ’48C, who also led the panel that brought George Rupp to the University nine years ago. Describing the qualities they found so impressive, King explained, “Lee Bollinger is a dynamic leader and an academic visionary. During his tenure at the University of Michigan, he demonstrated his commitment to the highest educational standards and his responsiveness to student issues and concerns.”

At Michigan, Bollinger oversees one of the world’s top public universities, with 53,000 students enrolled in nineteen schools and colleges. He is responsible for an annual budget totaling $3.5 billion, and during his tenure Michigan’s endowment has risen to $3.6 billion (as of June 30, 2001).

His efforts there have touched every aspect of academic life, from undergraduate education—including the planned construction of an undergraduate science building and a new residence hall—to the launching of a $700-million Life Sciences Initiative to foster multidisciplinary teaching and research in an array of rapidly advancing fields. Bollinger developed a major campus revitalization plan, highlighted by the construction of a new theater facility, and arranged for the Royal Shakespeare Company to visit campus as part of a three-week-long artists-in-residence program.

On the administrative front, he pursued a strategy focused on sound financial management and long-term fiscal health that has seen Michigan become one of only two public universities to be awarded a triple A rating from Moody’s Investors Service. The University’s research expenditures totaled $545 million in fiscal year 2000, putting it first among all public universities in the U.S. Bollinger has achieved particular success in forging close ties between the University and its alumni, in the process helping to attract more alumni support than any other public university during three of the four years of his presidency. Overall, the University of Michigan last year raised more than $218 million, the second year in a row it passed the $200-million mark.

As a committed teacher and scholar, Bollinger each fall teaches a popular undergraduate political science course about the First Amendment and free speech. His highly regarded writings include Images of a Free Press (Chicago University Press, 1991) and Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era, which is forthcoming from Chicago. Acting on the convictions that underlie his scholarly and professional interests, Bollinger has gained prominence in recent years for his spirited defense of affirmative action in the wake of two legal challenges to the University of Michigan’s admissions policies.

Bollinger is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a trustee of the Kresge Foundation, and a member of the boards of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Among those to join in applauding Bollinger’s appointment was George Rupp, who said, “Lee is a tremendously impressive academic leader. I have enjoyed collaborating with him as a colleague on national issues in education and research, and I look forward to working with him to assure a smooth transition to his presidency here at Columbia.”

Bollinger will assume the leadership of the University next July 1, with a formal inauguration and celebration due to take place later in the fall.

A Message from David J. Stern

To Members of the Columbia Community:

On behalf of the University Trustees, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lee C. Bollinger as the nineteenth president of Columbia University.

We are delighted to have Lee Bollinger rejoin the Columbia family. In the years since his graduation from the Law School in 1971, he has distinguished himself in every role he has undertaken—as teacher and legal scholar, provost and law school dean, and, for the past four years, as president of the University of Michigan. Given his impressive accomplishments, combined with his talent, energy, and vision, we are confident he is the right person to build on the momentum of the past decade as he leads the University into its 250th year and beyond.

Above all, we are convinced that the values that have guided Lee Bollinger’s life and career are fully consonant with the highest aspirations and principles of the University. We are fortunate to be able to call on Lee and his formidable skills as we work together to address the needs of the institution and its people, while at the same time ensuring that Columbia plays a vital part in confronting the challenges that lie ahead.

The Trustees are tremendously heartened by the progress Columbia has achieved under George Rupp, and we are grateful for the leadership he has provided. I ask Columbians everywhere to join me in welcoming Lee Bollinger as George’s successor at this important time in the University’s history.


David J. Stern
Columbia University Trustees

PHOTO: UM Photo Services Photorapher Bill Wood