Lee Bollinger

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Lee Bollinger
File:Lee Bollinger - Daniella Zalcman less noise.jpg
19th President of Columbia University
Assumed office
Preceded by George Erik Rupp
12th President of the University of Michigan
In office
Preceded by James Johnson Duderstadt
Succeeded by Mary Sue Coleman
Personal details
Born (1946-04-30) April 30, 1946 (age 76)
Santa Rosa, California
Alma mater University of Oregon (B.S.)
Columbia Law School (J.D.)
Profession Lawyer and Educator
Website Office of the President

Lee Carroll Bollinger[1] (born April 30, 1946) is an American lawyer and educator who is serving as the 19th president of Columbia University. Formerly the president of the University of Michigan, he is a noted legal scholar of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.[2] He was at the center of two notable United States Supreme Court cases regarding the use of affirmative action in admissions processes.[3][4] In July 2010, Bollinger was appointed Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York board of directors for 2011. Previously, he had served as Deputy Chair.[5]

Life and career

Bollinger was born in Santa Rosa, California, the son of Patricia Mary and Lee C. Bollinger.[6][7] He was raised there and in Baker City, Oregon. Bollinger spent a year (1963) as an exchange student in Brazil with AFS Intercultural Programs. He received his B.S. in political science (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Oregon, where he became a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity, and his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court. Bollinger went on to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973, becoming dean of the school in 1987. He became provost of Dartmouth College in 1994 before returning to the University of Michigan in 1996 as president.

Bollinger assumed his current position as president of Columbia University in June 2002.[8] On October 19, 2010, the Board of Trustees announced through a university-wide email that Bollinger has agreed to continue as president for at least the next five years. The board explained as the rationale for its decision to extend Bollinger's contract: "Columbia is thriving on many levels today, and is well positioned for the long-term both locally and globally, because of Lee’s distinctive vision of the university’s vital role in serving our society. But we still have much work to do in building on this extraordinary forward momentum in the years ahead and therefore have every reason to maintain the continuity of Lee's principled leadership."

Affirmative action cases

In 2003, while serving as president of the University of Michigan, Bollinger made headlines as the named defendant in the Supreme Court cases Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.[9] In the Grutter case, the Court found by a 5-4 margin that the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan Law School were constitutional. But at the same time, it found by a 6-3 margin in the Gratz case that the undergraduate admissions policies of Michigan were not narrowly tailored to a compelling interest in diversity, and thus that they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In 2006, affirmative action in university admissions in the state of Michigan was banned by a ballot initiative known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.[10]

President of Columbia

As president (known as "PrezBo"),[11] Bollinger has attempted to expand the international scope of the University, taking frequent trips abroad and inviting world leaders to its campus. Bollinger has been criticized for taking a neutral public position on controversies regarding the Middle East Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department and for placing the department in receivership.[12][13] He has also been the subject of criticism for his role in advocating the expansion of the university into the Manhattanville neighborhood and the possible use of eminent domain to help it seize property there.[14] The Bollinger administration's expansion plans have been criticized as fundamentally incompatible with the 197/a plan for development crafted by the community, and for failing to address the neighborhood's need to maintain affordable housing stock.

President Bollinger has lived in the Columbia President's House since February 2004, after the building underwent a $23 million renovation.[15][16] In 2008, his salary was $1.7 million.[17] In 2013, Bollinger's total compensation was $4.6 million, making him the highest paid private college president in the United States.[18]

In November 2006, Bollinger was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City, a term lasting for three years.[19]

World Leaders Forum

Columbia invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at the World Leaders Forum on September 24, 2007.[20] A number of local and national politicians denounced Columbia for hosting Ahmadinejad.[20][21][22] Bollinger described the event as part of "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues."[23] Bollinger released a statement outlining his introduction, explaining to the student body that the free speech afforded to Ahmadinejad was for the sake of the students and the faculty rather than for the benefit of Ahmadinejad himself, whom Bollinger referred to as "exhibiting all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."[24][25] Bollinger was criticized by students at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs,[26] but praised by Bob Kerrey who said that Bollinger "turned what could have been an embarrassment for higher education into something quite positive."[27]

On the media

On July 14, 2010, he wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal calling for the American government to subsidize its journalists.[28]

Personal life

Bollinger is married to artist Jean Magnano Bollinger. They have two children and one grandchild.[29] Bollinger's family is Catholic as his daughter, Carey Jean Bollinger,[30] and son, Lee Carroll Bollinger,[31] married in Catholic ceremonies.


In addition to his academic and administrative positions, Bollinger has written many articles and books on the subject of free speech.

  • The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America (Oxford University Press, 1986) ISBN 0-19-504000-7
  • Images of a Free Press (University of Chicago Press, 1991) ISBN 0-226-06349-6
  • Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era (University Of Chicago Press, 2002) ISBN 0-226-06353-4
  • Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century (Oxford University Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0-19-530439-8


  1. "A Texture of Mind and Manner". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Lee C. Bollinger." Newsmakers, Issue 2. Gale Group, 2003.
  3. Text of Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) is available from:  LII 
  4. Text of Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003) is available from:  LII 
  5. "Fed Announces Chairs of Regional Banks for 2011". The Wall Street Journal. July 19, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The Inauguration of Lee C. Bollinger". The University Record. 1997-09-24. Retrieved 2010-12-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Patricia Mary Bollinger". The Press Democrat. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2015-09-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Office of the President, Biography". Columbia University. Retrieved 20 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Totenberg, Nina (June 23, 2003). "Split Ruling on Affirmative Action: High Court Rules on Race as Factor in University Admissions". NPR.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative". Adversity.Net, Inc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Greenwell, Megan (2008-11-30). "Bollinger Stays Popular Even In Hard Times". Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 2010-12-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Inside Higher Ed, War and Peace at Columbia
  13. Statement from Lee C. Bollinger on the David Project Film
  14. Eviatar, Daphne (May 21, 2006). "The Manhattanville Project". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "President's House".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Arenson, Karen; Kleinfield, N.R. (May 25, 2005). "Columbia's Chief, Free Speech Expert, Gets Earful". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Staff Reports, 'Vandy chancellor among top earners', The Tennessean, November 14, 2010 [1]
  18. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/07/us/salaries-of-private-college-presidents-continue-to-rise-survey-finds.html
  19. Dow Jones Online Financial News NY Fed board appointment
  20. 20.0 20.1 Kadushin, Peter (September 23, 2007). "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in Manhattan". Daily News. New York.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. (AFP) – Sep 20, 2007 (2007-09-20). "AFP: Controversy swirls around Iranian leader's visit to New York". Afp.google.com. Retrieved 2010-12-27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Lee Bollinger, Tough Guy". The Wall Street Journal. September 24, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Outrage over Iranian president's NYC visit September 20, 2007
  24. "President Bollinger's Statement about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Scheduled Appearance at Columbia". Columbia News. 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2010-12-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Ahmadinejad speaks; outrage and controversy follow - CNN.com". 2007-09-24. Archived from the original on March 5, 2008. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "An Open Letter to President Bollinger".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Karni, Annie (September 25, 2007). "Bollinger Stuns Ahmadinejad With Blunt Rebuke". NY Sun.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Journalism Needs Government Help July 14, 2010
  29. "Biography". Office of the President Lee C. Bollinger. Columbia University. January 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/fashion/weddings/carey-bollinger-benjamin-danielson-weddings.html?_r=0
  31. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/fashion/weddings/13ellis.html

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
James Johnson Duderstadt
President of the University of Michigan
Succeeded by
Mary Sue Coleman
Preceded by
George Erik Rupp
President of Columbia University