Ira A. Lipman, Philanthropist and Long-Time Journalism, Civil and Human Rights Advocate, Dies at 78 | Columbia Journalism School

Ira A. Lipman, Philanthropist and Long-Time Journalism, Civil and Human Rights Advocate, Dies at 78

Ira A. Lipman, a well-known businessman, philanthropist and one of the Journalism School’s most generous patrons, died on Monday, September 16 in New York. He was 78 years old.

He died peacefully at home with his family.

Mr. Lipman founded the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, one of Columbia Journalism School’s most prestigious awards, in 1995. As a humanitarian and civil and human rights advocate, he endowed the school’s Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights dedicated to expanding reporting on human rights issues, the first of its kind at the School.


Mr. Lipman with Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2018 John Chancellor Award Winner

“Ira Lipman's commitment to civil and human rights will live on for decades at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, supporting the work of scores of journalists inspired by the same values Ira held,” said Steve Coll, dean of Columbia Journalism School. “Ira's generosity in creating a faculty chair and center devoted to reporting on civil and human rights has already changed our school for the better, attracting Jelani Cobb, one of America's most influential journalists, to our faculty, and making possible an array of important public interest journalism projects that continue apace. Ira was a good man who made a real difference.”

Mr. Lipman with Gwen Ifill's brother, Bert Ifill and Dean Steve Coll in 2017

“The Lipman Center mourns the loss of Ira A. Lipman whose foresight and generosity made the work we do here possible,” said Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism. “He will be remembered not only for his decades-long commitment to civil and human rights but also his sense of humor, his abiding sense of integrity and his belief, nurtured in the crucible of the Little Rock integration crisis, that journalism can make a difference in the lives of everyday people. He will be deeply missed.”

Prof. Jelani Cobb with Mr. Lipman

While still in high school, Lipman, 16, was introduced to John Chancellor—who was covering the desegration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas— and in 1957 became Chancellor’s source during the Little Rock High School integration crisis.

Mr. Lipman’s business career spanned 55 years. He created Guardsmark, one of the world’s largest security services firms. He received three honorary doctorate degrees, numerous national ethics awards and served on the boards of 65 organizations.

He was the author of "How To Protect Yourself From Crime" 1975, which is currently in its fifth edition as "How to be Safe," and was published in 2012.  He also authored articles that appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications.

A funeral service is being scheduled in New York this week and another is expected in Memphis next week.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.