In Remembrance of Roone Arledge

December 06, 2002

I know I speak for the entire University family when I say we are deeply saddened by the loss of Roone Arledge, who died December 5 in New York from complications of cancer. The Columbia College graduate and University Trustee was a legend of broadcasting—a pioneer whose impact on the television news and sports industry was arguably greater than any single individual—but we remember him now as a friend. To speak to Roone was to feel welcomed into a mind and a character you didn’t want to leave.

Roone loved Columbia and needed no prodding to reminisce about his days spent here. He was on the staff of the Spectator and edited The Columbian. Among his 1952 Columbia College classmates were his friends and fellow media giants Larry Grossman, Max Frankel, and Richard Wald. Together this group told great stories of their escapades in Morningside Heights. They cherished their time spent here and, throughout their distinguished careers, continued in their dedication to the University—particularly Roone.

Although he was one of the most honored individuals in the history of broadcasting, Roone treasured a few honors in a very special way. In 1979, he was presented a John Jay Award for his distinguished achievements as a College graduate. In 1998, the Columbia College Alumni Association bestowed the Hamilton Medal upon him, the College’s highest honor. He also accepted the Gold Baton on behalf of ABC News at the du-Pont Columbia Awards in 1995. These were all extremely proud moments for Roone, especially because they took place at his beloved alma-mater.

Roone was named a Trustee of the University in 1999 and served on both the Alumni Affairs Committee and the Education Policy Committee. He was admired by his colleagues for his tireless commitment to improving the University.

In 2000, the 1,500 seat, 11, 700 square-foot auditorium in Alfred Lerner Hall was named for Arledge. It was his wish that Columbia continue to educate the best future media professionals. We remain committed to that goal.

Life Magazine called Roone one of the most important Americans of the 20th Century. His genius is on display everywhere you look on television, but his golden touch can be noticed most on the ABC Television Network where his families at ABC News and ABC Sports will never forget him. His Columbia family will not soon forget him either.

I offer my most sincere condolences to Roone’s wife Gigi, and his four children. We thank them for sharing Roone with us for these many years. We will miss him terribly.

-- Lee C. Bollinger