Roger Lehecka, director of alumni programs and special advisor to the dean of Columbia College, has taken on the additional responsibility of executive director of Columbia's 250th anniversary celebration.
Lehecka, CC '67, who brings to this position 30 years of experience at Columbia, and is "unashamedly sentimental" about what Columbia means to him, said that he hopes for a growing appreciation for this institution, those who shaped it and the profound effect it has had on our students, our city and our world.
"An anniversary like this provides all of us--students, faculty, staff and alumni-- with a chance to show our pride in Columbia and reflect on the past as well as the future," said Lehecka, who will work with anniversary co-chairs Henry L. King, University Trustee Emeritus, and Kenneth T. Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor of History and Social Sciences, along with a steering committee to "bring about a celebration worthy of this great University."
Jackson said of Lehecka: "By virtue of his experience as an administrator, his long years of service to the university, and his proven ability to win the support and cooperation of diverse constituencies, Roger Lehecka is the perfect person to lead Columbia's 250 celebration."
The celebration events, which will commemorate the University's history, strengthen and renew alumni relations, and launch the institution toward its future, may begin as early as commencement 2003 and will culminate October 31, 2004, with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Charter by King George II establishing King's College in 1754.
Although the celebration is still in its planning stages and will have more academic events than any other type of event, there are several projects well under way.
Plaques will be placed all around the campus and elsewhere, commemorating the people and events contributing to Columbia's history and to the world's.
Additionally, an official Columbia history written by Professor Robert A. McCaughey and an illustrated oral history "coffee table book" from the research of John P. Rousmaniere '67GS, '68GSAS.
Finally, a series of essays written by Columbia's greatest scholars on Columbia's most outstanding figures in educational, scientific and intellectual history entitled "Living Legacies" is being published in Columbia Magazine. Each essay published through 2004 will be gathered and printed in a separate volume to complement the other 250th anniversary publications.
Lehecka is a native New Yorker who attended Stuyvesant High School. He graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in philosophy in 1967 and received his Master's in Education from Harvard University in 1968.
He has been a member of the College dean's staff since 1975. He was dean of students from 1979 until 1998, when he became director of alumni programs and special advisor to the dean. Lehecka will continue to share his time between the college and the 250th anniversary until summer of 2002.
Lehecka contributions include helping improve Columbia College's graduation rate from 75 to 90 percent over the course of six years, the creation of National Opportunity Program (NOP), the smooth transition of Columbia College into a coeducational institution in 1983, helping to create the Double Discovery Center in 1965 (Columbia's Upward-Bound program) and serving as its board chairman from 1986 to 1992.