Lee C. Bollinger became Columbia University’s nineteenth president in 2002, and is the longest serving Ivy League president. Under his leadership, Columbia stands again at the very top rank of great research universities, distinguished by comprehensive academic excellence, historic institutional development, an innovative and sustainable approach to global engagement, and unprecedented levels of alumni involvement and financial stability.
President Bollinger is Columbia’s first Seth Low Professor of the University, a member of the Columbia Law School faculty, and one of the country’s foremost First Amendment scholars. Each fall semester, he teaches “Freedom of Speech and Press” to Columbia undergraduate students. His latest book, The Free Speech Century, co-edited with Geoffrey R. Stone, was published in the fall of 2018 by Oxford University Press.
From 1996 to 2002, Bollinger was the president of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He led the school’s historic litigation in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. These Supreme Court decisions, which upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education, were reaffirmed in the Court’s 2016 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas. He speaks and writes frequently about the value of racial, cultural, and socio-economic diversity to American society through opinion columns, media interviews, and public appearances around the country and across the world.
Bollinger is a director of Graham Holdings Company (formerly The Washington Post Company) and serves as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. From 2007 to 2012, he was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he also served as Chair from 2010 to 2012.
As Columbia’s president, Bollinger conceived and led the University’s most ambitious expansion in over a century with the creation of the Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, the first campus plan in the nation to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest certification for sustainable development. A historic community benefits agreement emerging from the city and state review process for the new campus provides Columbia’s local neighborhoods with decades of investment in the community’s health, education and economic growth.
Columbia’s growth during Bollinger’s tenure has reflected a commitment to excellence in architecture, from Renzo Piano’s master plan for Manhattanville, to Rafael Moneo’s design for the Northwest Corner Building on the historic Morningside campus, to the new Campbell Sports Center at Baker Field Athletics Complex designed by Steven Holl.