Columbia’s 2017 Commencement Week Events Take Place from May 13 to 18

May 09, 2017

A number of distinguished and noteworthy professionals are the featured speakers at more than 20 special events celebrating the Commencement exercises of Columbia University’s 263rd academic year. Events take place between Saturday, May 13, and Thursday, May 18.

Commencement Day Specifics

When

Wednesday, May 17, beginning with the degree-candidate procession at 10:30 a.m. That night, from dusk until after midnight, the top of the Empire State Building will glow in blue and white in honor of Columbia’s graduates.

Who

University President Lee C. Bollinger presents the Commencement address to more than 35,000 students, faculty members, staff and guests. More than15,000 students are graduating. Due to limited seating capacity, Commencement is not open to the public, but a live webcast can be viewed here.

News Media

Campus access and seating is granted to journalists registered in advance with Caroline Adelman at ca2699@columbia.edu. Check in at the Amsterdam Avenue gate at West 116th St. Gate opens at 8:30 a.m. Reporters, photographers and video crews must be in place by 9:15 a.m. Click here for campus maps. The Broadway gate at West 116th St. is closed and no parking is permitted on campus.

Class Days, Graduation Ceremonies, Notable Speakers

Columbia’s 13 graduate schools and its three undergraduate institutionsColumbia College, Columbia Engineering School and the School of General Studieseach hosts separate special events. Due to capacity constraints, these events are not open to the public but some are webcast and archived. Click here to learn more. Speakers at events open to media coverage include:

Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science, Professor of Sociology, speaks at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. Convocation, 6:30 p.m., May 14, South Lawn, Morningside Heights campus.

Julia Bacha GS’03, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, speaks at the School of General Studies Class Day, 8:45 a.m., May 15, South Lawn, Morningside Heights campus.

Randall Lane, editor of Forbes magazine, speaks at the School of Professional Studies, 12:45 p.m., May 15, South Lawn, Morningside Heights campus.

Kai Fu Lee CC'83, a venture capitalist and former president of Google Greater China, speaks at Columbia Engineering School Class Day, 5:00 p.m., May 15, South Lawn, Morningside Heights campus.

Sheena Wright CC'90, LAW'94, the president and CEO of United Way of New York City, speaks at Columbia College Class Day, 9:30 a.m., May 16, South Lawn, Morningside Heights campus.

David Fahrenthold, a reporter for The Washington Post who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, speaks at the Graduate School of Journalism Journalism Day, 10:00 a.m., May 16, Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway.

Kenneth A. Forde, M.D. P&S ’58, Trustee, speaks at the School of Nursing Graduation and White Coat Ceremony, 10:00 a.m., May 16, The New Balance Track and Field Center, 216 Fort Washington Avenue.

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, former executive director of the UN Food Programme, speaks at the Mailman School of Public Health Graduation Ceremony, 4:00 p.m., May 16, The Armory, 216 Ft. Washington Avenue.

Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D., MPH, MPA, University Professor and the Mathilde KrimamfAR Professor of Global Health and Director, ICAP at Columbia University, speaks at the College of Physicians and Surgeons Graduation Ceremony, 2:00 p.m., May 17, Armory Track, 216 Ft. Washington Avenue.

Mel Chin, an award-winning conceptual artist, speaks at the School of the Arts Celebration of Graduates, 2:00 p.m., May 17, in Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, journalist and National Book Award winner, speaks at the Graduate School of Journalism Graduation Ceremony, 3:00 p.m., May 17, Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall, 2920 North Broadway.

Mary Jo White LAW'74, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at the Columbia Law School Graduation Ceremony, 10:30a.m., May 18, South Lawn, Morningside campus.

Right Honorable David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), speaks at the School of International and Public Affairs Graduation Ceremony, 3:30 p.m., May 18, South Lawn, Morningside campus.

2017 Honorary Degrees, University Medal for Excellence

Columbia grants seven honorary degrees at this year’s commencement. Click here for short bios of each recipient. They are:

  • Padma Desai, Doctor of Letters
  • Martin Duberman, Doctor of Letters
  • João Gilberto, Doctor of Music
  • Eric Holder, Jr., (CC’73, LAW’76) Doctor of Laws
  • Allen Hyman M.D., (CC’55) Doctor of Science
  • Admiral Michael Mullen, Doctor of Laws
  • Jacques Pépin, (GS’70, GSAS’72) Doctor of Humane Letters

The University Medal for Excellence, awarded annually to outstanding alumni under the age of 45, is presented to Julia Bacha, Columbia School of General Studies, 2003.

Alumni Medalists for 2017

The University presents Alumni Medals to the following individuals. Click here for short bios of each recipient. They are:

  • Anthony Angelo Agoni, 1984 BS Columbia Engineering School and 1989 MBA Columbia Business School
  • Michael S. Cornfeld, 1973 MA Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Kathleen Anne Crowley, 1991 MPH Mailman School of Public Health; 2013 DrPH, Mailman School of Public Health
  • Emily Ball Jabbour, 2006 MSW School of Social Work
  • Stephen Michael Kane, 1980 BA Columbia College, 1983 JD Columbia Law School
  • Peter Marber, 1987 MIA School of International and Public Affairs
  • Martha C. Romney, 1981 MS Columbia School of Nursing
  • Frances L. Sadler, 1972 BA Barnard College, 1979 MA Teachers College
  • Hitoshi Tanaka, 1963 BS Columbia Engineering School, 1976 Eng.Sc.D. Columbia Engineering School
  • Sherri Pancer Wolf, 1990 BA Columbia College