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Columbia University Names Michigan's Lee C. Bollinger President

Lee C. Bollinger

Lee C. Bollinger, president of the University of Michigan, has been named the nineteenth president of Columbia University.

He will succeed Dr. George Rupp, who will step down from his post in the summer of 2002 after serving as Columbia's president since July 1993.

"We are delighted to have Lee Bollinger re-join the Columbia family," said David J. Stern, chairman of the Columbia trustees. "Columbia has gained tremendous momentum during the last eight years under George Rupp's leadership. With Lee's record of accomplishment, with his talent and vision, he will surely build on that record and ensure that Columbia remains one of the world's great universities."

Said Bollinger of his appointment, "I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished research universities. Columbia, long known for its embrace of the highest intellectual standards, is by every measure poised to join the very highest echelon of academic institutions in the world. It occupies a unique position: a truly global university that is also part of the fabric of New York City. As New York recovers, as I am certain it will, and as the city resumes and broadens its role as the cultural and intellectual capital of the world, Columbia will be a vital partner. I am enthusiastic about joining in this continued educational and civic renaissance from the vantage point of Columbia's presidency."

As president of the University of Michigan, Bollinger is chief executive officer of an institution with 19 schools and colleges offering more than 225 undergraduate majors and 600 degree programs, 53,000 students from all 50 states and 130 countries, and a $3.5-billion annual budget. A legal scholar whose primary interests are free speech and the First Amendment, Bollinger has also served as dean of Michigan Law School and Provost of Dartmouth College.

Among the achievements of his administration have been:

  • Launching the $700-million Life Sciences Initiative (LSI), a recognition of the role universities must play in one of the major science revolutions of the 21st century. The LSI also will integrate teaching and research across the University of Michigan and be a vital part of the State of Michigan's future economic development.
  • Advancing undergraduate education by a variety of means, including starting programs to integrate issues concerning science and technology into the liberal arts curriculum, and initiating plans for the construction of an undergraduate science building and a new student residence hall. Bollinger also teaches an undergraduate class.
  • Attaining record levels of research funding and private giving. During the last two years, for example, gifts to Michigan have topped $200 million a year.
  • Making a deep commitment to sound financial management and long-term fiscal health. Michigan is one of only two public universities in the nation to have been awarded a triple-A bond rating by Moody's Investors Service.
  • Developing a major campus revitalization plan, which includes building a new theater facility for Michigan's diverse array of performing arts.
  • Arranging for the University of Michigan to host the Royal Shakespeare Company in a rare three-week-long artists-in-residence session, during which Company actors and staff members interacted with University of Michigan students and faculty and with the residents of southeast Michigan through 40 free and open educational events.
  • Initiating a study of the University of Michigan's response to the exponential increase in human communication, including how technology should be used in teaching, research and public service.

"Lee Bollinger is a dynamic leader and an academic visionary," said Henry L. King, chair of the search committee and chair emeritus of the Columbia trustees. "During his tenure at the University of Michigan, he demonstrated his commitment to the highest education standards and his responsiveness to student issues and concerns. He has worked to make Michigan affordable to every qualified applicant, and has been a staunch supporter of student and faculty diversity."

In developing new initiatives and leading the legal battles to uphold the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies in student admissions, Bollinger has been at the forefront of advancing programs that are considered critically important to colleges and universities across America.

Current Columbia President George Rupp also expressed his pleasure at Bollinger's selection. "Lee is a tremendously impressive academic leader," he said. "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 is a graduate of the University of Oregon and the Columbia Law School, where he was an articles editor of the Law Review. After serving as law clerk for Judge Wilfred Feinberg on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Chief Justice Warren Burger on the United States Supreme Court, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973. In 1987, he was named the dean of the Michigan Law School, a position he held for seven years.

He became provost of Dartmouth College and professor of government in July 1994 and was named the twelfth president of the University of Michigan in November 1996.

He has published numerous books, articles, and essays in scholarly journals on free speech and First Amendment issues and other subjects. His highly acclaimed contributions to First Amendment literature include "Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era," to be published by the University of Chicago Press, "Images of a Free Press," published by the University of Chicago Press in 1991 and "The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America," published in 1986 by Oxford University Press.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the boards of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Mr. Bollinger was born in Santa Rosa, California, and raised there and in Baker, Oregon. He is married to Jean Magnano Bollinger, who graduated from the University of Oregon and received a master's degree from Columbia. She is an artist with studios in Vermont and Dexter, Michigan. They have two children—a son, Lee, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan Law School; and a daughter, Carey, a graduate of Harvard University and currently a student at Columbia Law School.

Published: Oct 08, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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