Columbia Announces 2013 Honorary Degree Recipients

Columbia University will confer seven honorary degrees and recognize the recipient of its University Medal for Excellence at commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 22. The recipients are:

Columbia News Staff
April 08, 2013

Alicia Abella, University Medal for Excellence, awarded annually to an outstanding Columbia graduate under the age of 45
Currently the executive director of the Innovative Devices and Services Research Department at AT&T Labs, managing a multi-disciplinary technical staff specializing in human-computer interaction, Abella is an award-winning advocate for encouraging minorities and women to pursue careers in science and engineering. She earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree from Columbia.

Stanley Falkow, Doctor of Science
Widely regarded for more than a generation as the foremost bacteriologist in the United States, Falkow has made landmark contributions to the field of microbiology. He is the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology and Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and is recognized throughout the world for his observations related to molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis. His colleagues and trainees recognize him as an exemplary mentor: an inspiring, selfless, empathetic and wise counselor.

Herbert and Florence Irving, Doctors of Laws
Both born and raised in Brooklyn, the Irvings have played a remarkable leadership role in philanthropy and service during their 71 years of marriage, most notably in their generous support for Columbia University Medical Center, where they created the Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and more than 100 student fellowships. Columbia’s doctors, faculty and patients have also benefited from the Irving’s generosity over the past quarter century toward NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Columbia campus. Herbert Irving is a co-founder and former vice chairman of Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food distributor. Florence Irving has had leadership roles on the boards of non-profit institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she is a trustee emeritus.

Arnold Rampersad, Doctor of Letters
A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Rampersad’s scholarship and writings have spanned nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, Southern autobiography and African-American literature. Among other topics, he has published works on W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, and has co-edited the Oxford University Press’s "Race and American Culture" book series. He has taught at the University of Virginia, Rutgers, Columbia and Princeton, and is currently the Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford.

Paul E. Steiger, Doctor of Laws
After 46 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, Steiger became, in 2008, the founder, editor-in-chief, and president of "ProPublica," an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces journalism in the public interest. During his 16 years as managing editor of "The Wall Street Journal," members of its newsroom staff won 16 Pulitzer Prizes. During a period of marked decline in reporting resources in much of the American news media, "ProPublica" focuses on important stories of accountability journalism. Its reporters won the first Pulitzer Prize for a Web-based news organization in 2010, and the first for work published only online in 2011.

Zena A. Stein, Doctor of Science
A native of South Africa, advocate of social justice and early opponent of apartheid, Stein is an award-winning pioneer in research and patient care related to mental retardation and child development, prenatal nutrition and postnatal outcomes, and famine and starvation. Most recently, her research has extended to prenatal and perinatal HIV infection and HIV infection in women. A Columbia faculty member since 1965, Stein is professor emerita of epidemiology and psychiatry at the University’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-director of the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Laurence H. Tribe, Doctor of Letters
Born in China to Russian Jewish parents, Tribe entered Harvard College at 16 and after graduating from its law school went on to become both a distinguished legal scholar and a much sought-after appellate advocate. He prevailed in three-fifths of the many appellate cases he has argued, including 35 arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. Tribe helped write the constitutions of South Africa, the Czech Republic and the Marshall Islands. He is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, where he has taught since 1968.