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University Commencement


Award Recipients


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Honorary Degrees are awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to research, publication, law, science, government, education and literature. Honorary degrees were first awarded by Columbia in 1758. Honorees do not need to be graduates of Columbia University.

The University Medal for Excellence is awarded each year to an alumnus or alumna, under 45 years of age, whose record in scholarship, public service, or professional life is outstanding.

Columbia University will confer seven honorary degrees and one Medal for Excellence at its University Commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2016:

Amanda M. Burden
Doctor of Laws
Susan Meiselas
Doctor of Humane Letters
Doctor of Science
Arthur Mitchell
Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert Darnton
Doctor of Letters
Robert Owen Paxton
Doctor of Letters
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Doctor of Laws
Tracy K. Smith
University Medal for Excellence

For biographies, please click here.


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching are awarded to current Columbia faculty who have had a significant influence on the intellectual development of students at the University. These awards recognize teaching excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching:

Luis M. Campos
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Olatunde C. Johnson
Professor of Law

Adam Cannon
Senior Lecturer in Machine Learning in the Department of Computer Science

Martina Pavlicova
Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Columbia University Medical Center

Rita A.M. Charon
Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center




Alumni Medalists are alumni of Columbia University selected to receive this high honor for their distinguished service of ten years or more to the University - including its schools, alumni associations, regional Columbia Clubs, and University-wide initiatives. The Medal was first awarded by Columbia in 1933.

The 2016 Alumni Medalists:

Jeffrey Lawrence Bleustein
1962 M.S. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
1965 Ph.D. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 

Paul J. Maddon, M.D., Ph.D.
1981 B.A. Columbia College
1985 MPhil Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
1988 Ph.D. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
1989 M.D. Physicians and Surgeons

Elaine Schlozman Chapnick
1961 B.A. Barnard College

Rita Diana Pietropinto-Kitt
1993 B.A. Columbia College
1996 M.F.A. School of the Arts

Thomas Campbell Jackson
1998 M.P.H. Mailman School of Public Health 

Phyllis Fang Savage
1993 M.S. Columbia Journalism School

Seokho Lee
1988 M.B.A. Columbia Business School

Richard M. Space, Jr.
2005 B.A. School of General Studies

Sharon J. Liebowitz
1991 MArch Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Mozelle W. Thompson, Esq.
1976 B.A. Columbia College

1979 I.F. International and Public Affairs
1981 J.D. Columbia Law School

For biographies, please click here.