April 26, 2011

Lipinski to lead Nieman Foundation

Vice President for Civic Engagement Ann Marie Lipinski will leave the University for a position as Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University this June.

During her three years at the University, Lipinski, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune, shaped programs with Chicago Public Schools, Hyde Park arts programs, and campus security, safety, and transportation.

“The University is an extraordinary resource to Chicago and, in turn, benefits greatly from being here. I have no doubt that the work we have in place will continue and flourish,” Lipinski said in an April 19 press release.

The University has not named her replacement, though President Robert Zimmer sent an April 19 email to University leaders thanking her for her service.

The announcement of her departure has led to bittersweet reflections from colleagues and students.

Lipinski, a 1990 Nieman Fellow, was the managing editor of the Tribune when Associate Vice President for News and Public Affairs Steve Kloehn began working there as a one-year resident reporter in 1996. She placed him on the Tribune’s full-time staff, where he worked for the next 12 years. Their careers crossed again when they both came to the U of C in 2008.

“Ann has made a big mark on this city over the decade she’s been here, both in her role at the Tribune and here at the University, and a lot of us who have worked with her are going to miss seeing her on a regular basis,” Kloehn said. “But this job [at Harvard] is such a perfect fit for her experience and her passions that I’m very happy for her.”

Lipinski intends to split her time between Chicago and Harvard for her first year because her family will remain here.

“I really don’t intend to cut my ties here. I have so many dear, dear friends—current colleagues, former colleagues,” she told Time Out Chicago in an April 22 article. “The city’s been a very important part of my life. It’s formed it in many ways. And I’m just so grateful for everything I’ve found here.”

This winter, Lipinski taught a popular class titled Writing About Chicago. CAPS adviser and Director of Chicago Careers in Journalism Kathy Anderson said that several students told her the class was one of their favorites at the U of C.

Fourth-year and editor-in-chief emeritus of the Chicago Weekly Harry Backlund said that Lipinski's humble teaching style made him feel as if she were his editor, not his professor.

“If you didn’t know coming into the classroom that she was the former editor-in-chief of the Tribune, you wouldn’t know,” Backlund said. “It was just great to work with someone with such great experience. The class was more about practice than her passing down sacred secrets.”

Lipinski told Time Out Chicago she was equally impressed with her students in the class.

“I was so knocked out by the passion and talent that these kids have,” she said. “You don’t come to the University of Chicago to go to journalism school. And, yet, here they were—kids who really, really want to do this with their lives and are so good at it and are going to be so much better.”