Acclaimed professor and author Jelani Cobb has been named the Dean of the Columbia Journalism School.
Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University lauded Cobb’s accomplishments as a scholar and media personality in a press release issued by the school.
“Jelani is a highly distinguished and renowned journalist and historian,” Bollinger’s statement read. “Since 2012, he has worked for The New Yorker, as a contributor and currently as a staff writer, offering in-depth analyses of a wide array of subjects, ranging from electoral politics and policing to filmmaking and stand-up comedy. He has authored books on the election of President Barack Obama and the history of hip hop, and he recently co-edited an anthology of portraits of Black life in America. His essays and opinions have been published in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Essence, Vibe, The Progressive and TheRoot.com. Jelani’s expansive resume also includes reporting for Whose Vote Counts, the Peabody Award-winning documentary series with Columbia colleague June Cross, from PBS FRONTLINE, Columbia Journalism Investigations, and USA Today.”
“Jelani’s vision for the future of the Journalism School is one that embraces the vital role of journalism in our society, on a local and global scale, and the need to ensure our graduates are as well prepared as possible for an incredibly dynamic and changing field,” his statement continued. “I am grateful to the members of the search committee for their careful and tireless work throughout this selection process—we are all delighted with this outcome and look forward to seeing how, as Dean, Jelani will shape the future of journalism education.”
In an interview with Columbia’s Journalism Review, Cobb spoke about the responsibilities of his new role and his vision for the future of journalism.
“I think that the important thing about a job like this is that you have to be able to cook on all burners,” he noted. “But the most crucial thing for us internally is the cost of journalism school. You know what’s happening with stagnation in the American labor market generally. And we’re seeing that in the journalism market particularly. That’s going to be something that we have to address—that’s at the forefront of my mind, actually. In the conversations I had with the upper administration and the committee prior to taking this, that was probably the bulk of those conversations.”
Since 2015, Cobb has been a staff writer at The New Yorker . He's also a documentarian, an Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and the director of the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at Columbia Journalism School. He is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress as well as To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and editor of The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader.
From 2012 to 2016, he was an associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut .
He received an undergraduate degree from Howard University and earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.
Cobb’s begins his tenure as Dean of the Columbia Journalism School starting with the 2022-23 academic year.