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Bollinger Becomes
University’s 19th President

By Lisa Palladino, Alex Sachare '71

George Rupp and Lee Bollinger
Incoming President Lee Bollinger (right) recieves an honorary degree from outgoing President George Rupp at Commencement.
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Pledging to preserve and enhance “the academic, intellectual, artistic strengths of the University” and to assure that “the youngest people in the institution, the people coming in as first-year undergraduates, have a life-changing, rich educational experience,” Lee C. Bollinger ’71L became Columbia’s 19th president on June 1. He succeeded George Rupp, who had headed the University since 1993.

Bollinger’s remarks came in an interview with Columbia College Today conducted during his first week as president. The full interview will appear in an upcoming issue of CCT.

Rupp, who will be awarded the 2002 Alexander Hamilton Medal for distinguished service and accomplishment this fall, said of his successor, “Lee is a tremendously impressive academic leader. I have enjoyed collaborating with him as a colleague on national issues in education and research.”

Bollinger, whose formal presidential inauguration is scheduled for October, had been president of the University of Michigan since 1997. He was confirmed by Columbia’s Board of the Trustees last fall and spent several months on campus, meeting with various members of the Columbia community, including alumni leaders, prior to taking office.

He received an honorary degree at the May 22 Commencement ceremony, where his daughter, Carey Bollinger ’02L, was among the graduates. Bollinger’s wife, Jean Magnano Bollinger, is a 1971 graduate of Teachers College, where she earned a master’s in education and psychology. The Bollingers also have a son, Lee, who holds degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan Law School.

A legal scholar whose primary interests are free speech and the First Amendment, Bollinger has served as dean of Michigan Law School and provost of Dartmouth College. He is a 1968 graduate of the University of Oregon. While at the Law School, Bollinger was an articles editor of the Law Review. After serving as law clerk for Judge Wilfred Feinberg ’40 ’46L on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Chief Justice Warren Burger on the United States Supreme Court, Bollinger joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973. In 1987, he was named dean, a position he held for seven years until leaving for Dartmouth. He returned to Michigan in 1997 to serve as its president.

As announced in the March 2002 issue of CCT, Rupp will succeed Reynold Levy as president of the International Rescue Committee. Founded in 1933 at Albert Einstein’s request, the IRC is among the world’s largest nonsectarian, nonprofit agencies providing global emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection and resettlement services for refugees, displaced persons and victims of oppression and violent conflict.

Prior to becoming Columbia’s president in 1993, Rupp served as president of Rice University in Houston and dean of the Harvard Divinity School. More than a year ago, he advised the Board of Trustees that he would step down in June.

At Columbia, Rupp focused on enhancing undergraduate education, recruiting leading senior and junior scholars to enhance the faculty, revitalizing the Morningside Heights campus, strengthening the University’s relationship to the surrounding community and New York City as a whole, launching new education and research programs and increasing the international orientation of the University. He also completed a financial restructuring, with the result that each of the annual budgets he has submitted has been balanced. Under his leadership, the University achieved record fund raising each year and completed a $2.84 billion campaign.

Rupp will receive the Alexander Hamilton Medal at a black tie dinner in Low Rotunda on Thursday, November 14, and will join a distinguished list of past presidents to be so honored.

Nicholas Murray Butler (Class of 1882), who served as president of the University from 1902–45, was honored with the first Hamilton Medal in 1947. Acting president Frank D. Fackenthal ’06, who served from 1945–48, was honored the following year, followed by Grayson Kirk (1953–68) in 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948–53) in 1963, Andrew W. Cordier (1968–70) in 1970, William J. McGill (1970–80) in 1979 and Michael I. Sovern ’53 (1980–93) in 1993.

For further information about the Alexander Hamilton Medal Dinner, please call the Alumni Office at (212) 870-2288 or (866) CCALUMNI.

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