The Hechinger Institute was launched in 1996 and named after Fred M. Hechinger, the late New York Times education editor who also served as a Teachers College trustee. It was Fred’s idea to have an institute for professional journalists, spurred by his belief that few education reporters come to the beat with a background in educational issues.
The founding director was Gene I. Maeroff, who now serves as a senior fellow. Maeroff spent 16 years writing about education for the New York Times, before becoming a senior fellow with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He’s also edited, co-written or written 12 books on education.
Richard Lee Colvin took over the Institute in 2003 after many years writing about education for newspapers in California, including the Los Angeles Times, where he was the lead education writer. Colvin left the Institute in 2011.
Liz Willen is the current director of the Institute. She is a former senior writer focused on higher education at Bloomberg Markets magazine. Willen spent the bulk of her career covering the New York City public school system for Newsday.
Since its launch in 1996, the Institute has sponsored approximately 70 seminars that have been attended by more than 2,000 journalists who write or editorialize about education or who edit coverage of education. Those attending seminars have come from the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and many other major publications.
Recently the Institute has shifted its focus to producing The Hechinger Report, an outlet focused on producing in-depth education journalism, including investigative reporting and detailed analysis, with staff and freelance reporters. Journalism from The Report appears frequently on the pages of the nation’s biggest newspapers and websites, and always online at hechingerreport.org.