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April 24, 2008

Columbia University Announces New
Co-Chairs of Pulitzer Prize Board

Columbia University announced today that Jay Harris, a former newspaper publisher who directs The Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy at the University of Southern California, and Richard Oppel, editor of the Austin American-Statesman, have been appointed the new co-chairs of the Pulitzer Prize Board.

Jay Harris

Both Harris and Oppel have served on the Pulitzer Board since 2000. As the new co-chairs, they replace Joann Byrd, former editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Mike Pride, editor of the Concord Monitor (N.H.). Members of the Board serve a maximum of nine years while a chair serves for only one year.

In more than 30 years in journalism, Harris has worked as a reporter, editor, educator and corporate executive. Appointed publisher of the San Jose Mercury News in 1994, Harris emphasized more complete coverage of community life, increased the quality and quantity of news about Silicon Valley business and high technology, and launched weekly Spanish and Vietnamese-language newspapers.

After beginning his career as a reporter and editor at the Wilmington News-Journal of Delaware, Harris joined the faculty of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, where he also served as assistant dean.

Richard Oppel

While at Medill, he designed and launched the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual national census of minority employment in daily newspapers, which remains the industry benchmark to this day.

He worked as a national correspondent and columnist for the Gannett News Service and was executive editor of the Philadelphia Daily News before moving to Knight Ridder's corporate staff, where he served as assistant to the president of the Newspaper Division and, later, vice president of operations, where he was responsible for the business operations of nine of the company's newspapers.

Harris has been recognized with awards from numerous universities, nonprofit and social justice organizations, and national journalism and journalism education organizations, including honorary doctorates from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater, and Santa Clara University in California. In addition to directing the Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy, Harris is also the Wallis Annenberg Chair at the University of Southern California.

Richard Oppel, a reporter and editor for 46 years, has led the newsrooms of the Tallahassee Democrat, Charlotte Observer and Austin American-Statesman. He retires as editor of the American-Statesman on June 1, 2008.

Oppel, 65, graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in political science in 1964, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard School of Business in 1984.

After his Marine Corps service and a job at the Tampa Tribune while in college, Oppel began 11 years with The Associated Press, ending as chief of bureau for Michigan in Detroit. In 1976 he became associate editor of The Detroit Free Press, and in 1977, executive editor of the Democrat.

In 1978, Oppel joined the Observer. During his 15 years as editor, the newspaper won two Pulitzers for Meritorious Public Service and shared a third for Editorial Cartooning with The Atlanta Constitution. He was chief of Knight Ridder's Washington bureau in 1993-95, and then became editor of the American-Statesman. Throughout his career, Oppel emphasized hard news, investigative reporting and public service.

He was named the National Press Foundation's Editor of the Year in 1988, served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2000-2001, and was president of the North Carolina Press Association in the early 1990s.

For more information about the Pulitzer Prizes, please visit http://www.pulitzer.org/.