Notable Speakers and Remarkable Graduates Highlight 2011 University Commencement

May 13, 2011Bookmark and Share
University Commencement Celebrates Class of 2011
This year, some 12,000 degrees will be conferred on graduates from all 18 of Columbia’s schools and affiliates. But nothing is made official during the University commencement ceremony, held on Wednesday, May 18, until President Lee C. Bollinger tells the graduates that they have been admitted “to the degree for which you have qualified.”
Former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and senior vice president of NBC News Alexandra Wallace Creed (CC’88) join other distinguished professionals as speakers at more than 20 special events celebrating the commencement exercises of Columbia University’s 257th academic year. Events take place between Saturday, May 14, and Saturday, May 21. Some ceremonies, including the main commencement and class days for Columbia Engineering and Columbia College, will be webcast live and archived. 
The University will confer five honorary degrees and two Medals for Excellence at the main commencement ceremony on the Morningside Heights campus. That night, from dusk until after midnight, the spire of the Empire State Building will be lit in blue and white in honor of Columbia’s graduates.    
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—each host separate special graduation events.
Some of the speakers scheduled to speak include Annan, first Global Fellow at Columbia, at the School of International and Public Affairs Commencement; Creed at the Columbia College Class Day; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner at the School of the Arts Celebration of Graduates; Ralph Izzo, CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Class Day; and George W. Madison, general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, at the Columbia Law School Graduation.
The University Medal for Excellence, awarded annually to outstanding alumni under the age of 45, will be presented to Lydia Polgreen, 2000 M.S., Graduate School of Journalism, who is a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.
Columbia will present 11 Alumni Medals for outstanding work on behalf of the University. This year’s awardees include:
During commencement ceremonies, the University will honor outstanding faculty. Recipients of this year’s teaching awards include:
  • Mary Sheila S. Coronel, Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism, Columbia Journalism School
  • Kenneth B. Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • Richard A. Korb, senior lecturer, Department of Germanic Languages
  • Richard Locke, professor of professional practice in writing, School of the Arts
  • Jill S. Shapiro, lecturer, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
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Brown Institute for Media Innovation Grand Opening


Five Columbia faculty members have been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. They are James J. Cimino, adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics; Quarraisha Abdool Karim, associate professor of epidemiology; Gerard Karsenty, Paul A. Marks Professor of Genetics & Development; Michael Shadlen, professor of neuroscience; and Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

Herb Gans, the Robert S. Lynd Professor Emeritus of Sociology and special lecturer in sociology, was awarded the 2014 William Foote Whyte Career Achievement Award for sociological practice and public sociology

The Record