Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University and the longest tenured president among the Ancient Eight universities (he’s led Columbia for 21 years), has announced that he will be stepping down as Columbia’s leader at the end of the next academic year. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar most well known for inviting Iran’s Holocaust denying then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia back in 2007, is the latest university president to announce his resignation. Dartmouth College’s Philip J. Hanlon also recently announced he’d be stepping down. The University of Pennsylvania recently named M. Elizabeth Magill its new president. Outside of the Ivies, the leaders of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, and Howard University also recently announced their exits.
As Anemona Hartocollis and Giulia Heyward report for The New York Times in a piece entitled “The Presidents of Columbia, Howard and N.Y.U. Announce Their Retirements,” “There is suddenly a long Help Wanted list for university presidents. In the past two days, the leaders of Columbia, Howard and New York Universities have announced that they are stepping down. Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia for the past 21 years, will depart at the end of the next academic year…Mr. Bollinger, who will turn 76 this month, led Columbia to a 17-acre expansion north of 125th Street in Harlem, an area known as Manhattanville. It is now the site of towering new glass buildings housing centers for science, the arts and business.”
We strongly suspect that the Covid-19 pandemic — and all of the intense stress surrounding whether or not students could safely learn on college campuses and what these schools were to do without students on their campuses for so long — tired a number of these leaders out, including Lee Bollinger who will resume his career as a law professor after his tenure leading Columbia.
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