Jack W. Fuller set a standard of integrity and accomplishment for a generation of Chicago journalists, rising from his first junior job at the Chicago Tribune at age 16 to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the newspaper, and ultimately the leader of Tribune Co.’s publishing division.
Fuller, 69, who served on the University of Chicago Board of Trustees since 1994, died June 21 at his Chicago home, after a diagnosis of cancer several months ago.
“Jack had a distinguished career as a journalist, author and business executive,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “He had a personal commitment to higher education, and his wide-ranging interests, balanced judgment and wisdom made him an invaluable presence on the University’s board. He was a wonderful colleague and friend whose loss will be felt deeply in the University community.”
“Jack was a respected voice on our board for 22 years,” said Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. “He had an innate understanding of issues affecting Chicago, and his vision also encompassed our history and future in a national and international context. Those are among the many reasons why he will be greatly missed.”
A Chicago native, Fuller earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1968 before serving in the U.S. Army as a Vietnam correspondent for Pacific Stars and Stripes. After leaving the army he received a law degree from Yale University in 1973.
For two years, Fuller worked as a general assignment reporter at the Tribune, then left to serve as special assistant to U.S. Attorney General Edward Levi, who had been president of the University of Chicago from 1968 to 1975. Fuller returned to the Tribune’s Washington bureau and became an editorial writer in 1978. He was named editorial page editor in 1981.
Fuller won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for a series of editorials on constitutional issues. He became a mentor for many writers and future leaders of the newspaper, including current editor and publisher Bruce Dold and former editor Ann Marie Lipinski, now the curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. In 1989, Fuller was promoted to vice president and editor of the Tribune. He held that role until 1997, when he became president of Tribune Publishing.
Five of Fuller’s books were published by the University of Chicago Press, including Restoring Justice (2013), an edited volume of speeches by Edward Levi that chronicled his work rebuilding a discredited Department of Justice after Watergate. He published eight novels and numerous short stories, and continued to write opinion pieces and other articles for the Tribune and other outlets. He also taught a course in creative writing at UChicago.
Fuller retired from the Tribune Co. in 2004. He was a director of the MacArthur Foundation and a member of the Special Committee on editorial standards at Dow Jones & Co. He was also a past president of the Inter American Press Association, which works to monitor and safeguard freedom of expression in the Western Hemisphere.
Fuller served on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1994 onward. He was Board Vice Chair from 2009 to 2012; chair of the Community and Civic Affairs, External Relations, and University Relations committees, and served on many other committees including the Executive Committee from 2005 to 2013. He was a life member of the Humanities Visiting Committee.
Fuller is survived by his wife, Debra Moskovits, PhD’85, and two children from a previous marriage, son Timothy and daughter Katherine Ryan. Plans for a memorial service are pending.