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Lee Bollinger

Dorsett Fellow - Fall 2005

Lecture: "Academic Freedom and Scholarship" (September 23, 2005)

Lee Bollinger Photo

BIOGRAPHY - Lee C. Bollinger became the nineteenth President of Columbia University on June 1, 2002. A prominent advocate of affirmative action, he played a leading role in the twin Supreme Court cases-Grutter v Bollinger and Gratz v Bollinger-that upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education. A leading First Amendment scholar, he is widely published on freedom of speech and press, and currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School.

From November 1996 to 2002, Bollinger was the President of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he had also served as a law professor and dean of the Law School.

Under Bollinger's leadership, Columbia launched the largest capital campaign in its history, proposed its most ambitious campus expansion in more than a century, and received a record number of applications for its incoming undergraduate class. Committed to ensuring that, from its location in the nation's most global city, Columbia excels as a truly global university, he launched a number of new initiatives that include: the World Leaders Forum, which invites prominent international figures to the campus to engage in the major issues of our time; the faculty Committee on Global Thought, to pursue scholarship and generate new curriculum models that help students become better citizens of the world; as well as new academic partnerships with institutions around the globe.

Long a supporter of the arts, Bollinger created the Columbia Arts Initiative to enhance the role of the arts across many facets of the student experience and university life. In proposing that the University invest in long-term growth in upper Manhattan, he has committed to expanding Columbia's already extensive civic partnerships that work to improve education, health care and economic opportunity in West Harlem, Washington Heights and other local New York neighborhoods.

Bollinger is a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Washington Post Company, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company of Great Britain, and a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Bollinger is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Widely published on legal and constitutional issues involving free speech and press, Bollinger books include: Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era; Images of a Free Press; The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America; and Contract Law in Modern Society: Cases and Materials. He continues to teach an undergraduate course, "Freedom of Speech and Press" at Columbia each year.

Bollinger has received the National Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice and the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund for his leadership on affirmative action. He also received the Clark Kerr Award, the highest award conferred by the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, for his service to higher education, especially on matters of freedom of speech and diversity. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from universities in this country and abroad.

After graduating from the University of Oregon and Columbia Law School, where he was an Articles Editor of the Law Review, Bollinger served 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 University of Michigan Law School faculty in 1973.

Bollinger was born in Santa Rosa, California, and raised there and in Baker, Oregon. He is married to artist Jean Magnano Bollinger, and they have two children.

Last Updated: 3/1/10