Remembering Joan Konner, former Columbia Journalism School Dean, award-winning journalist | Columbia Journalism School

Remembering Joan Konner, former Columbia Journalism School Dean, award-winning journalist

Former Columbia Journalism School Dean Joan Konner, who served in that role for nine years after an award-winning career in broadcasting, passed away on Wednesday, April 18. 

In announcing the news to faculty, Dean Steve Coll said, “I am sorry to report that Joan Konner, our former Dean and professor, passed away this morning after a long illness. Joan was a friend and benefactor to many of us at the school. She arrived here in 1988 as Dean after a distinguished career in broadcast journalism. She won more than a dozen Emmys as well as a duPont/Columbia University Award and a Peabody award, among others, during her career. 

“Joan served as Dean for nine years and did much to resolve then-challenging issues between the school and university. She remained a professor until her retirement in 2006. Since my arrival, Joan has been a valued counselor and friend, as well as a very generous supporter of the school. Among other things, she has been a champion of Columbia Journalism Review as it completed its digital transition and covered this extraordinary period for the press.”

Dean Konner also previously served as the publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. During her tenure, the Journalism School created the Part-time Master of Science program, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary and has now graduated nearly 900 students.

Dean Konner, who was dean emerita, earned a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and 10 years later graduated in 1961 with an M.S. from Columbia Journalism School. She had been a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist for the Bergen (N.J.) Record; a producer, reporter, host and editor, at WNET/Thirteen; a documentary and news producer, writer, director and program director at NBC News; an executive producer for national public affairs programs, and executive producer of "Bill Moyers’ Journal."

She also served as vice president, director of programming and executive producer for the Metropolitan Division and senior executive producer for national public affairs at WNET/Thirteen. She had served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia University. 

Her awards included 13 Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; Peabody Award, 1980; Alfred. I. duPont-Columbia Award, 1989; three American Bar Association Awards; and Outstanding Broadcast Journalism Educator, from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1996.

Dean Konner also created and edited “The Atheist’s Bible,” (2007), “You Don’t Have to be Buddhist to Know Nothing,” (2009) and “The Book of I: An Illustrious Collection of Self Reflections,” ( 2012).

She is survived by her husband, Alvin Perlmutter, and her daughter, Rosemary Steinbaum.

A funeral service will take place Friday, April 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue at 30 West 68th Street. The Journalism School will hold a memorial service at Pulitzer Hall at a later date.

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The family has requested that gifts be made in Joan's memory to the Journalism School.  Please click here and indicate in your note "in memory of Joan Konner." You may also mail a gift to the attention of Abigail Bedrick, Columbia Journalism School, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. 

If you have questions, please call or email Abigail Bedrick at 212-854-1848 or