Lee C. Bollinger (born 30 April 1946 in in Santa Rosa, California) is an American lawyer and educator who is currently serving as the 19th president of Columbia University. Formerly the president of the University of Michigan, he is a noted legal scholar of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. He was at the center of two notable United States Supreme Court cases regarding the use of affirmative action in admissions processes.
Born in Santa Rosa, California to a Jewish family, Bollinger was raised there and in Baker City, Oregon. As a student, Bollinger spent a year (1963) as an exchange student in Brazil with AFS Intercultural Programs. He received his bachelors degree from the University of Oregon, where he became a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity, and his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Columbia Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court. Bollinger went on to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973, becoming dean of the school in 1987. He became provost of Dartmouth College in 1994 before returning to the University of Michigan in 1996 as president. Bollinger assumed his current position as president of Columbia University in June 2002.
In 2003, Bollinger made headlines as defendant in the Supreme Court cases Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. In the Grutter case, the Court found by a 5-4 margin that the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan Law School were constitutional. But at the same time, they found by a 6-3 margin in the Gratz case that the undergraduate admissions policies of Michigan were not narrowly tailored to a compelling interest in diversity, and thus that they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.