Marc Lacey ’87, national editor for The New York Times and the first Distinguished Visiting Journalist in a new College of Arts and Sciences program, shared advice with students, visited classes and learned about faculty research during a trip to campus Feb. 10-14.
“There’s not a single class I took at Cornell that I haven’t used in some sense or another as an editor,” Lacey said in a Feb. 11 Inside Journalism career conversation with students, hosted by Arts and Sciences Career Development. “I have a job in which I could be interviewing scientists or poets, all kinds of people, and I can sound like I know what I’m talking about.”
Lacey participated in a variety of classes, including two government seminars on Russian politics; The Truth About Fake News (GOVT 4000), a class led by assistant professors Bryn Rosenfeld and Alexandra Cirone; and an introductory class in American studies taught by Noliwe Rooks, the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Literature, professor of Africana studies and director of the American Studies Program.
Students in that class recently read selections from the New York Times’ 1619 Project, begun last year, which examines the legacy of slavery 400 years after it began in America. They also recently started reading the U.S. Constitution.
“Through his remarks, anecdotes, stories and answers, he made so very clear why a politically unencumbered and free press is absolutely necessary if we are to have a functioning democracy,” Rooks said. “We have to know as much as possible what is happening where we live, in order to know who we have been and who we continue to be.”
Lacey’s week on campus also included individual and roundtable discussions with faculty covering U.S. and comparative politics, history and Latin American studies, as well as Cornell’s first Global Grand Challenge, focused on migrations.
Lacey visited the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research to learn more about the center’s research and public engagement work and toured the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility, with its director, Chris Ober, and Itai Cohen, professor of physics.
And he joined Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences, for a fireside chat with faculty and graduate students at the A.D. White House. They discussed topics including Lacey’s experience moderating a presidential primary debate, election coverage in The New York Times and the ways journalists engage with scholars around global issues, emerging trends and groundbreaking research.
The Distinguished Visiting Journalist program brings journalists to Cornell for stays of two to eight weeks. The program is funded through philanthropic support, including from the Dr. Guinevere Griest Fund for Public Engagement. Griest ’44 served as editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun, and later as a senior official at the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“Marc’s visit was the perfect debut for our Distinguished Visiting Journalist program – offering students and faculty an inside look at the work of an accomplished journalist and allowing Marc to have deep discussions with faculty about their latest research and discoveries,” Jayawardhana said. “He has set a high bar for those who follow. We are looking forward to Marc’s own return in April.”
Lacey will return April 6-10; his visit will include a public panel discussion.
Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.