Lee C. Bollinger, President of the University

President of the University

  • University of Oregon, B.S., 1968
  • Columbia, J.D., 1971

Lee C. Bollinger became Columbia University’s 19th President in 2002 and is the longest serving Ivy League President. He is Columbia’s first Seth Low Professor of the University, a member of the Law School faculty, and one of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment scholars. Under his leadership, Columbia stands again at the very top rank of great research universities, distinguished by comprehensive academic excellence, an innovative and sustainable approach to global engagement, two of the largest campaigns in Ivy League history, and the institution’s most ambitious campus expansion in over a century.

Each fall semester, he teaches “Freedom of Speech and Press” to Columbia undergraduate students. Bollinger is the author or co-editor of numerous books on freedom of speech and press, including National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press: The Pentagon Papers Fifty Years On (2021), Regardless of Frontiers: Global Freedom of Expression in a Troubled World (2021), and The Free Speech Century (2018). Bollinger and collaborator Geoffrey R. Stone are currently at work on a forthcoming volume on one of the most pressing questions of our time—the regulation of speech on social media platforms, and subsequent implications for the future of democracy.

In 2017, Bollinger founded Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilizes the University’s researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses, and communities to tackle global challenges. In 2021 he launched the Columbia Climate School, the first new School at the University in 25 years.

Bollinger serves as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 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. He also served as a director of Graham Holdings Company (formerly The Washington Post Company), concluding his term in 2021.

As President of the University of Michigan from 1996-2002, Bollinger led the school’s landmark civil rights litigation in Grutter v. Bollinger, a Supreme Court decision that for the first time upheld the constitutional right of colleges and universities to engage in affirmative action to advance diversity in higher education. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Bollinger is also the recipient of multiple honorary degrees from universities in the United States and abroad.