Journalism School Announces Renaming of Building for Founder, Joseph Pulitzer

March 06, 2012

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism announced today that it will rename the Journalism building “Pulitzer Hall,” after its founder, Joseph Pulitzer. The unveiling of the new façade will take place on April 20, 2012—the start of the school’s centennial year.

“Among Joseph Pulitzer’s many contributions to journalism was his understanding that the profession must innovate and modernize to continue to meet its public responsibility,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “This renaming comes at a fitting time, as it allows us to celebrate the Journalism School’s proud heritage, while recognizing the pioneering scholarship and teaching that is occurring at Columbia during this moment of transformative change in the field.”

After many years of careful reflection, Joseph Pulitzer first proposed a plan to found a school of journalism in 1903, and began negotiating the details of his endeavor with Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler.

Pulitzer wrote about his proposal in "The North American Review," where he laid out a soaring vision of the journalist as essential provider of information about the state of the world: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and the courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.” The school finally opened its doors in 1912, the year after Pulitzer’s death. His 1904 essay still stands as an eloquent statement of the school’s mission.

“Our school is very fortunate in having a compelling founder and a fascinating institutional history. We are happy to have an opportunity to make the connection more plainly. The Pulitzer family has remained involved with the Journalism School, but is no longer in the newspaper business. The school and the Pulitzer Prizes are its legacy in journalism,” said Dean Nicholas Lemann.

Last fall, the Journalism School resurrected Pulitzer’s famous newspaper, the "New York World," in the form of an online news outlet. The digital New York World produces accountability journalism devoted to deepening public understanding of the ways city and state government shape life in New York City.