Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson Elected Chair of Pulitzer Prize Board

May 10, 2017
Eugene Robinson 

Columbia University announced today that Eugene Robinson, associate editor and columnist of The Washington Post, has been elected chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. The chair serves a one-year appointment, while board members serve a maximum of nine years.

Robinson succeeds the trio of board chairs for 2016-17: Randell Beck, retired president and publisher of Argus Leader Media in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Joyce Dehli, a fellow at the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University; and Keven Ann Willey, vice president and editorial page editor of The Dallas Morning News.

Robinson’s career at The Washington Post spans 37 years. He became a columnist in 2005 after holding a variety of jobs at the paper, including city hall reporter, city editor, South America correspondent, London bureau chief, foreign editor and assistant managing editor. For his columns about the 2008 presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama, Robinson won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. His column is syndicated to 262 newspapers.

A native of Orangeburg, S.C., he graduated from Orangeburg High School, where he was one of a handful of black students on a previously all-white campus. At the University of Michigan, he was the first black co-editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. He began his career at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he participated in coverage of the Patty Hearst kidnapping. During the 1987-88 academic year, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

For nearly a decade, Robinson has appeared regularly as a political analyst and commentator on MSNBC. A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, he was elected to the organization’s hall of fame. Robinson is the author of three books: Coal to Cream: A Black Man’s Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race; Last Dance in Havana; and Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America. He is married, has two sons and lives in Arlington, Va.

Robinson joined the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2010.


The Pulitzer Prizes, which are administered at Columbia University, were established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912 and establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917.

The 19-member board is composed mainly of leading journalists or news executives from media outlets across the U.S., as well as five academics or persons in the arts, including the president of Columbia. The dean of Columbia’s journalism school and the administrator of the prizes are nonvoting members. The chair rotates annually to the most senior member or members. The board is self-perpetuating in the election of members. Voting members may serve three terms of three years for a total of nine years.