Frank Bruni, long-time journalist and columnist for the New York Times and the author of multiple best-selling books, has been chosen as one of two new Eugene C. Patterson Professors of the Practice for Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
Bruni will join the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, Duke’s hub for journalism education in the Sanford School, on July 1.
Bruni comes to Duke after 25 years at the New York Times, having served as metro reporter, White House correspondent, Rome bureau chief, chief restaurant critic and now Op-Ed columnist. He was the first openly gay Op-Ed columnist at the Times and in 2016 was honored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association with the Randy Shilts Award for his lifetime contribution to LGBTQ equality.
He is the author of three New York Times best sellers: a 2015 examination of the college admissions frenzy, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be”; a 2009 memoir, “Born Round,” about the joys and torments of his eating life; and a 2002 chronicle of George W. Bush’s initial presidential campaign, “Ambling into History.” His first cookbook, “A Meatloaf in Every Oven,” was published in February 2017 and co-written with his Times colleague Jennifer Steinhauer.
Bruni joined the Times from the Detroit Free Press, where he was, alternately, a war correspondent, the chief movie critic and a religion writer. He has worked as a general-assignment writer for the Detroit Free Press and the New York Post. He has taught a writing course at Princeton University and been active at his alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill, as an advisor on improving the undergraduate experience and the liberal arts curriculum.
“I am delighted at Frank’s decision to join Duke and our faculty at the Sanford School of Public Policy,” said Dean Judith Kelley. “He will bring our students new perspectives in several key focus areas, including politics, education and social topics, and add to our expertise in media and democracy. We are thrilled that he will be teaching our students at Duke and deepening their undergraduate experience.”
“Frank is a rare talent in American journalism,” said Bill Adair, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center. “He’s been a political reporter, culture writer, foreign correspondent and opinion columnist. He will bring tremendous depth to our program.”
“I feel so honored by and excited about this opportunity,” said Bruni. “I have such respect for what Duke has built with Sanford and with the DeWitt Wallace Center, hope to make a meaningful contribution to both and look forward to returning to North Carolina, a theater of such fascinating political dynamics and a place dear to my heart.”
The professorship is named for Eugene Patterson, a legendary journalist and civil rights activist. The Patterson Chair, endowed by a gift from the Poynter Fund (now the Tampa Bay Times Fund), is named in honor of the former editor-in-chief and chief executive officer of The St. Petersburg Times, whose earlier work as editor of the Atlanta Constitution set a benchmark for coverage of the civil rights movement. Patterson also served three years as managing editor at The Washington Post. He taught at Duke in the public policy program from 1971 to 1972, served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1994 and holds an honorary doctorate from Duke, awarded in 1978.
This year, Duke will announce two Patterson professors, which has precedent. When the Patterson professorship was established at Duke in 1998, it was jointly held by Susan Tifft and Alex S. Jones until Jones departed in 2000 to become the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.
The second Patterson professor will be named soon.