Notable Speakers and Honored Scholars Highlight Graduation Ceremonies, May 16 to 21

May 13, 2009Bookmark and Share
Columbia’s 13 graduate schools, and its three undergraduate institutions—Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of General Studies—have each scheduled special events in addition to the University’s main commencement. Commencement and other ceremonies will be webcast and archived.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder (CC’73, Law’76) will join a broad array of distinguished figures scheduled to address numerous ceremonies for Columbia University’s approximately 12,000 graduates. Events take place between Saturday, May 16 and Thursday, May 21.

The University will confer eight honorary degrees and one Medal for Excellence at its main commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 20, at 10:30 a.m., at its Morningside Heights campus. During the ceremony, Columbia will also recognize the service of outstanding alumni, as well as excellence in teaching among its faculty.  

Some of the 22 speakers scheduled to speak include Holder, at Columbia College Class Day; Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. national security adviser, at the School of International and Public Affairs Commencement; James Albaugh, executive vice president of the Boeing Company, at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Class Day; Joshua Micah Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo, at Graduate School of Journalism Day; Jerry Saltz, art critic and columnist for New York magazine, at the School of the Arts Presentation of Diplomas; and Gray Davis (Law’67), former governor of California, at the Law School Graduation.
The Medal for Excellence, awarded annually to an outstanding graduate under the age of 45, will be presented to Kiran Desai (SOA’99), a writer whose second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award.
The Empire State Building glows Columbia blue in honor of University commencement, May 20.
On May 20, the Empire State Building will be illuminated in Columbia blue in honor of University commencement.  (Click to enlarge image.)
Columbia will present 10 Alumni Medals for outstanding work on behalf of the University. Recipients will be recognized during commencement and honored at a dinner in conjunction with the Columbia Alumni Association Assembly Leadership Conference. This year’s awardees include: 
Jacqueline Anne Bello (P&S’80), a director of neuroradiology at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the immediate past president of the New York State Radiological Society. She will be awarded the gold medal for meritorious service to the P&S Alumni Association.
Katharina Otto-Bernstein (CC’86, SOA’92), an independent filmmaker and author. Her company, Film Manufacturers Inc., has produced numerous internationally acclaimed works. Most recently, she directed and produced the award-winning Absolute Wilson, which chronicles the life of theater artist Robert Wilson.
Richard M. Smith (JRN’70), the chair of Newsweek, which he joined on a four-week writing tryout in 1970 and went on to lead as editor-in-chief from 1984 to 2007 and CEO from 1991 to 2007. In 2002, he received the magazine industry’s highest honor, the Henry Johnson Fisher Award for Lifetime Achievement.
During commencement ceremonies, the University will honor outstanding faculty. Recipients of this year’s teaching awards include:

Wendy K. Chung, assistant professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

George Deodatis, Santiago and Robertina Calatrava Family Professor of Civil Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Marguerite Y. Holloway, assistant professor of journalism, Graduate School of Journalism

Scott A. Snyder, assistant professor of chemistry, Department of Chemistry

Joseph Tenenbaum, Edgar Leifer Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine

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