Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll has been named dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He will replace Nicholas Lemann, who has been the school's dean since 2003.
Both Coll and Lemann are veterans of the New Yorker. In addition, Coll covered the financial world and South Asia at the Washington Post.
Coll takes the reins at one of the country's top journalism schools at a time of dramatic change in the industry.
Gone are the days when Columbia served as a feeder for many of the country's most highly regarded regional newspapers. Those positions have largely been eliminated, the victim of a print business that is in cutback mode. Instead, today's graduates are being trained in reporting fundamentals only to exit the school for positions in the scrappier world of blogs like Gawker and aggregators like the Huffington Post.
Under Lemann, the school has emphasized New Media skills, integrating digital more fully into its curriculum. It also had a great deal of success raising money. During Lemann's tenure, the school raised $167 million, including an $18 million gift from former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, the largest in the school’s history. Among other things, the money was used to build a new student center and increase financial aid.
"We’re only beginning to learn what great journalism in New Media will look like and how to teach, strengthen and inspire journalists in what is increasingly a globalized profession," Coll said in a statement. "The Journalism School has a chance across the next decade to extend its leadership as an institution with worldwide influence, a locus of deep and serious education, a source of experimentation, and a place where great journalism is not just taught but practiced.”
Coll received his first Pulitzer in 1990 for explanatory journalism with a series of articles on the Securities and Exchange Commission, which he reported with David Vise. He won his second in 2005, in general non-fiction, for the book "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001."
Coll has written seven books. His most recent book, "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power," was published this past November, and won the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs prize for best business book of the year.