About Ira A. Lipman

photo of Jelani Cobb and Ira A. Lipman

The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights was established in 2017 through a generous gift from Ira A. Lipman, a humanitarian and philanthropist who was chairman emeritus and founder of one of the world's largest security services firms, Guardsmark. 

Lipman was a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, and was educated in the Little Rock public school system. He then studied at Ohio Wesleyan University. His business career spanned 55 years. He created Guardsmark in 1963 and merged it with Universal Protection Service in 2015.

He received three honorary doctorate degrees, numerous national ethics awards and served on the boards of 65 organizations. He founded the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1995, at Columbia University Journalism School, and endowed the Ira A. Lipman Professorship in Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at Columbia and the Ira A. Lipman Professorship at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

He was the author of "How To Protect Yourself From Crime" (1975), currently in its fifth edition as "How to be Safe," published in 2012. He authored articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications during his career.

He died Sept. 16, 2019, at the age of 78 and is survived by the three sons he had with his late wife Barbara Ellen Kelly.

As a teenager, Lipman was an important source for NBC’s John Chancellor, who reached out to him in Little Rock in 1957 when Lipman was a high school senior during the Little Rock integration crisis.

Lipman, then a 16-year-old high school student, worked Friday and Saturday nights on the sports desk for the Arkansas Gazette. Frank McGee, an NBC Correspondent, and Lipman met while McGee was working at the Gazette newsroom on the desegregation of Central High School. After leaving Little Rock, McGee passed along Lipman's contact information to his colleague John Chancellor as a source.