The Society of Columbia Graduates recently awarded 1996 "Great Teacher Awards" to two of Columbia's
outstanding faculty. Professor of English and Comparative Literature George Stade received the
Columbia College award and Associate Professor of Computer Science John Kender captured the prize for
the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).
Professor of Computer Science John Kender
The "Great Teacher" award originated in 1949 with its inaugural awards going to Mark Van Doren
(College) and Edwin H. Armstrong (SEAS) the inventor of FM radio. Each year the recipients' names are
inscribed onto a permanent plaque that hangs in Butler Library and stands as a monument to the great
educators who have taught Columbia students.
The October 17 ceremony was held in Faculty House, where roughly 120 members of the Society gathered
to pay tribute to Professors Stade and Kender. Among the notable arrivals was Senior Vice-President of
ABC News Richard Wald `52C. Wald moderated a post-ceremony panel discussion of the current
The evening began with a reception and dinner. Shortly after, Dean Austin Quigley of the College and
Dean Zvi Galil of SEAS gave preemptory greetings and brought the Society up to date on current projects
and improvements occurring in their respective schools. Dean Galil stressed the difficulty of attaining
excellent teaching in a research university, thereby underscoring the "Great Teachers"' accomplishments.
Professor of Comparitive Literature George Stade
Then, acting Society president Stephen D. Hoffman `65C awarded Professor Stade with a representative
trophy that imitates the engraving of the scholarly lion depicted on the memorial plaque in Butler Library.
Along with the trophy a citation was also issued that depicted and highlighted some of Professor Stade's
life-long accomplishments, which ranged from writing book reviews for the New York Times to his chief
editorial position on the Columbia Essays on Modern Writers.
Professor Stade's speech reflected on his thirty-four year career at Columbia and culminated with the
point that "great students make great teachers." Professor Kender was awarded a similar trophy that also
bore a personalized citation highlighting him as a "Teacher of teachers" and praising his work in visual
information processing and artificial intelligence.
"A teacher makes you more efficient and saves you the trouble from reinventing for yourself," Professor
Kender declared prior to closing his statements with a quote from one of his favorite authors: "If I were [a
good teacher] who would know it? . Pupils, students, you, God."