Announcement Regarding Dean Nicholas Lemann of the Graduate School of Journalism

October 10, 2012

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

It is with enormous gratitude for his service and equal admiration for the Journalism School’s past decade of accomplishment that I announce Dean Nicholas Lemann’s decision to step down from his position at the end of the academic year, after the completion of his second five-year term leading the School.

Some ten years ago, Nick agreed to serve on a task force I had created to consider what a modern journalism education should be.  His thoughtfulness about and commitment to the subject were exceptional and inspiring, and, after many discussions, it became clear to me that he was the right person to lead the Journalism School in this new era.

Working with faculty and the broader community of people interested in the School, Nick helped create a comprehensive and modern curriculum worthy of demanding the time of the most talented journalists, and aspiring journalists, in the world.  The innovations included the decision to study and teach both the craft of journalism and the intellectual context for its practice, and the institution of a new Master of Arts in Journalism program stressing subject-matter expertise to complement the Journalism School’s core Master of Science program.

All of that was achieved under Nick’s leadership and much more.  Long before he came to our campus, he had established himself among our most respected writers and editors of classic long-form journalism—but as dean he repositioned the Journalism School as a center of innovation in new technology and entrepreneurship.  Two years ago, the School announced the creation of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and earlier this year, in partnership with Stanford University’s School of Engineering, the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, whose launch we officially celebrated just last week.  In numerous ways Nick has helped forge interdisciplinary ties with other parts of the University, perhaps most significantly in the form of a dual Masters Degree program in Computer Science and Journalism.  And the School has led the discussion about journalism’s future, issuing a series of influential reports and recommendations, including in 2011, “The Story So Far: What We Know about the Business of Digital Journalism.”

Nick has overseen record-breaking strides in fundraising and capital improvements, including a new state of the art broadcast studio, as well as construction of a new student center and cafe that is enjoyed not only by Journalism students and faculty, but by the broader campus community.  Two additional large projects, the architecturally innovative Brown Institute headquarters and the renovation of the historic World Room, are fully funded and moving forward.  These developments, accomplished as the School marked its 100th anniversary, ensure that Columbia will continue to play a singular role in thinking about and shaping the future of the profession and its essential role in our society.  But beyond the renovations to the curriculum and the physical improvements to what we now rightly call Pulitzer Hall, Nick leaves an extraordinary legacy in the talented people he has attracted to Columbia to teach and lead these new endeavors.

We will have ample time during this academic year to celebrate his tenure, and in the months ahead I will announce plans for the search committee I will lead in choosing the next dean.  For today, please join me in thanking Nick Lemann for his transformative leadership and for the many lasting contributions he has made not only to Columbia Journalism School, but to the University as a whole.


Lee C. Bollinger