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Journalism School Launches Executive Leadership Program, Honoring 'Punch' Sulzberger

The Graduate School of Journalism announced the launch of a program to provide advanced management training to executives in news organizations. The new Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program is named in honor of Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger, the retired publisher of The New York Times. Sulzberger's sisters have pledged $4 million to the journalism school to endow the program, which will begin in the 2006-07 academic year.

About the new program, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said, " Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism continues to prepare its students for professional performance at the highest levels and to elevate journalism education. Arthur Sulzberger has brought great distinction to the field. Thanks to the generosity of the Sulzberger family, this ambitious program bearing his name will prepare executives to lead news organizations and will strengthen the practice of journalism across all forms of media."

Columbia plans to bring together executives from the editorial and business sides of newspapers, broadcast journalism, online journalism and magazines in a series of working sessions, spread over the course of a year. The program is designed as a succession-planning tool to equip high potential executives -- both news and business executives -- with the journalism and business literacy necessary to think creatively about the future of the profession at an especially challenging time. The school envisions that the Sulzberger Program, geared to the unique needs of journalism executives, will be more comprehensive than any other program offered in either journalism or business schools and will uniquely bring together executives from different media.

The New York Times Leader

Sulzberger was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree by Columbia in 1951 and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1992. He was the founding chair of the journalism school's Board of Visitors. He was publisher of The New York Times from 1963 to 1992 and continued to serve as chairman of The New York Times Company until 1997. During his leadership, the paper began producing a national edition, increased its daily report from two to four sections, won 32 Pulitzer Prizes and published the Pentagon Papers.

The Sulzberger sisters are making two $4 million gifts to graduate schools of journalism in New York City: one to Columbia University and the other, for scholarships, to the City University of New York's new graduate school of journalism, which will open next fall.

In making the gift, Sulzberger's sisters -- Marian Heiskell, Ruth Holmberg, and Dr. Judith Sulzberger -- said, "We make this double gift in gratitude for all that Punch has done for his family, for The New York Times and for American journalism over three decades. In his modest way, he would never admit to having achieved anything special, but anyone who knows this business understands how much he accomplished. In journalism, professional quality and business success are all too often in conflict. Punch has set a courageous example of success on both sides."

The Sulzberger sisters also commented, " Columbia has always been one of Punch's true loves. For its Graduate School of Journalism to create this training program will offer his enduring example to future leaders of the field. For City University to create this scholarship program will enrich journalism with the talents of students who would otherwise be deterred by the cost of private graduate education. These grants are a tangible way for us to demonstrate our feelings for Punch and we do so with affection, admiration and applause."

New Journalism Opportunity

Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia's journalism school said, "It is an honor and a rare opportunity to be chosen by a great publishing family to start an ambitious endeavor that we hope will serve to preserve and spread its journalistic values. We take this generous gift as a challenge to help our profession reach a new level of commitment and expertise."

Arlene N. Morgan, the journalism school's associate dean for prizes and programs and a former assistant managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, will lead the school's planning for the Sulzberger Program. Morgan has already begun an intensive effort to consult with leaders in journalism and with specialists in advanced management training to plan the program's form and content. Morgan hopes to hire a full-time director for the program within the next few months.

Executive leadership and advanced management training programs, aimed at people who will soon occupy top positions in their organizations, have become a valued institution in the business world in recent years. News executives rarely attended these programs, and the ones they do attend usually last only a few days. Because journalism is changing so rapidly and facing so many new challenges, and because its leaders often assume their positions with no management training at all, the journalism school and the Sulzberger sisters believe that producing a journalistic version of these programs, housed in a journalism school, will represent a significant service to the profession.

"I am grateful to the Sulzberger sisters for recognizing the serious problems that top executives are facing in delivering high-quality journalism during a period of deep financial stress in the marketplace," said Morgan, who led professional development programs at The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Across the board, newspapers, magazines and television news organizations are feeling the need to better prepare their executives. This gift will enable us to design a forward-looking curriculum to help media organizations meet and conquer their leadership challenges."

The Sulzberger Program will be the second ambitious new educational venture the journalism school has launched in two years. This academic year, the school started a Master of Arts in Journalism program, its first new professional degree program in 71 years, which will graduate its first class of 27 students in May 2006.

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Published: Oct 10, 2005
Last modified: Oct 10, 2005

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