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Jill Abramson ’76 To Teach Undergraduate English Courses in the Fall

Recently ousted New York Times executive editor will focus on narrative non-fiction during upcoming academic year

By Theodore R. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: June 12, 2014, at 7:22 p.m.

Jill E. Abramson ’76, former executive editor of The New York Times, will be teaching undergraduate courses on narrative non-fiction in the fall and spring of the upcoming academic year, the University announced earlier today.

Abramson is slated to teach one workshop on narrative non-fiction journalism per semester, according to Interim English Department Chair Nicholas J. Watson. Each course will follow a protocol similar to that of other creative writing courses and will be capped at 12 students, who can be either undergraduate or graduate.

Abramson, who was suddenly ousted from her post last month in favor of then-managing editor Dean P. Baquet, boasts an extensive and distinguished career in journalism, having worked at The Wall Street Journal, Legal Times, NBC News, and Time magazine in the past. At the Times, Abramson served in a handful of leadership positions, including managing editor and Washington bureau chief, before her two-and-a-half years as executive editor, during which the newspaper was awarded eight pulitzer prizes.

While at Harvard as an undergraduate, Abramson served as the arts editor of The Harvard Independent, a weekly student news publication founded in 1969.

“I'm honored and excited to be teaching at Harvard in the coming academic year,” Abramson said in a press release. “Narrative non-fiction journalism is more important than ever. Its traditions and how it is changing in the digital transition are fascinating areas of study."

Abramson’s former colleagues at the Times said that Harvard is fortunate to have someone so experienced and knowledgeable of journalism.

“I think Harvard is lucky to have Jill,” Baquet wrote in an email. “She is a brilliant journalist, a fine writer and reporter. I'd take her class in a heartbeat.”

David M. Carr, a columnist for the Times who covers the media, echoed Baquet’s sentiment, calling her “a great get for Harvard.”

"Harvard is lucky to have such a deep thinker and accomplished journalism practioner,” Carr wrote in an email. “Throughout her career [at the Times] and elsewhere, Jill has helped many young, aspiring writers learn the craft and be ambitious in the work that they chose.”

Diana Sorensen, divisional dean for Arts and Humanities, said that she is eager to welcome Abramson to the Harvard community.

“Her students in the Writing Program will profit enormously from her insights, experience and brilliance,” Sorensen wrote in a statement.

Homi K. Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, said that he is also eager to welcome Abramson, whom he lauded for her “illuminating” essay published in early May about being hit by a car in 2007.

“She has great experience,” Bhabha said. “She has a great sense of judgment…. So I think our colleagues will very warmly embrace her presence in our department.”

Before her tenure as executive editor at the Times, Abramson taught a journalism course at Princeton in 2000 and a journalism seminar at Yale from 2007 to 2011. She was the first woman to serve as executive editor of the Times.

“Given her time at Yale, she knows how to navigate both academia and Ivy, so I expect she will flourish as will the students who have the opportunity to take her class,” Carr wrote.

—Check for updates.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.

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