Hilary Swift / The New York Times

Marc Lacey at the democratic presidential debates where he served as a moderator.

November 18, 2019

A&S Names NY Times Editor Marc Lacey ’87 First Distinguished Visiting Journalist

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Marc Lacey ’87, national editor for The New York Times, will be the first journalist to visit Cornell as part of a new Distinguished Visiting Journalist program hosted within the College of Arts and Sciences beginning in the Spring semester.

Lacey was chosen as the inaugural fellow due to his extensive background in journalism and his position at one of the most “influential newsrooms” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Ray Jayawardhana said.

“As the national editor of [T]he Times and a moderator of a recent presidential primary debate, Marc is very much in the ‘thick of it’ at a time when good journalism matters tremendously and the media landscape itself is transforming dramatically,” Jayawardhana told The Sun in an email.

The program was created due to interest from students, alumni and faculty to engage more with the media Jayawardhana said. Joel Malina, vice president of university relations, said that this program can bring back some of the journalists that have come from Cornell and The Cornell Daily Sun to “inspire another generation of leaders.”

“Our hope is to draw on Cornell’s deep connections in the media to bring voices here who can engage with faculty, staff and students to share insights into the rapidly evolving state of news journalism in the 21st century,” Malina told The Sun in an email.

For this program each fellow will attend for a variable amount of time, ranging from two to eight weeks, the press release said. These visits will include a variety of opportunities for the journalists to engage with the Cornell community through class presentations, meetings with faculty and students and workshops.

Lacey will be coming to campus for one week in the spring semester and will return for another week in the fall, although his specific schedule is still being determined at this time.

During his time on campus, Lacey said he will be talking about the “big issues” in the country right now such as impeachment and immigration. He also wants to talk about the state of news media during a time where such organizations face intense criticism.

“I am interested in sharing what I have learned over 30 years as a journalist with students who are interested and I’m also really excited about learning from the students,” Lacey told The Sun.

Lacey has spent the past 20 years at The Times, previously reporting from Nairobi, Kenya, Phoenix, Arizona, and Mexico City, Mexico and holding other editor positions. He has also worked for the Los Angeles Times and interned for The Washington Post. He has a master’s degree in international policy and practice from George Washington University and has studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program. More recently Lacey entered the national spotlight as a moderator for the democratic debates on Oct 15.

An alumnus of Cornell, Lacey was very involved with The Cornell Daily Sun, serving as its editor-in-chief while he was a student here. Although Lacey entered Cornell as an engineering student and graduated as a biology and society major, The Sun played an integral role in his life, giving him the foundation for his career in journalism.

Since graduating from Cornell, Lacey has remained actively engaged with the university and The Sun. Every time he has visited Cornell, he has visited The Sun and remains engaged with current editors through workshops and hosting students at The New York Times.

A topic Lacey wants to address with current Sun editors is the shift from operating as a print newspaper to navigating the world as a digital and print publication.

“I think that news organizations like The New York Times, like The Cornell Daily Sun –– news organizations everywhere –– have to continue to adapt for readers,” Lacey said. “That’s something that is really important for me in my job in New York, and something that Sun editors are also going through.”

This fellowship is funded through “philanthropic support,” according to a press release. One of the notable donors is the Dr. Guinevere Griest Fund for Public Engagement, named for an alumna who served as editor-in-chief of The Sun and worked for The National Endowment for the Humanities.

Fellows for this program are chosen on a rolling basis by a panel of Cornell faculty and staff. The advisory committee includes Jayawardhana, Malina, Prof. Noliwe Rooks, Africana studies and American studies, Prof. Jessica Chen Weiss, government and Prof. Steve Srogratz, applied mathematics.

Jayawardhana said the advisory committee members were chosen because of their diverse backgrounds and previous experience working with the media and journalists in their fields.

In absence of a journalism major, which The Sun previously reported was completely phased out of Cornell by 1996, many budding journalists including Lacey have used The Sun as a training ground for journalism. The College of Arts and Sciences also views this program as way to engage with The Sun in addition to bringing journalists on campus.

“The Sun is excited for the increasing on-campus opportunities for students interested in journalism and is looking to explore a future relationship,” said Anu Subramaniam ’20, current editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun.

Jayawardhana said areas of collaboration between Arts and Sciences and The Sun include hosting events and panel discussions for students interested in journalism.

“I am eager to learn a whole lot about what the atmosphere is like for Sun editors,” Lacey said. “How the campus has changed since I was there is something that I’m really interested in exploring.”