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Henry Graff Receives Award of Excellence for Lifetime of Service and Achievement

By James Devitt

from left Henry Graff and Jacques Barzun at a Columbia University event during the 1980's

When Ronald Reagan started his second term as president, Henry Graff claimed, "He has a chance to make somebody move over on Mount Rushmore. He's working for his place on the coins and the postage stamps." Newsweek published his quote in their January 28 issue in 1985 and Simpson's Contemporary Quotations republished it in 1988.

Graff's observation was one of a long history of public discourse that recently earned him the Kaul Foundation Award of Excellence in the field of education, an honor that includes a $100,000 prize.

A Columbia Emeritus Professor of History, Graff, Ph.D. '49, taught this country's first course on the history of the Presidency. University Professor Emeritus Jacques Barzun, CC'27, MA'28, Ph.D. '32, received the Kaul Foundation Award in 2000, when his most recent work, "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life" (Harper Collins), was published. Graff, who retired from Columbia's History Department in 1992, said he plans to use the award money to support his research for a biography on President Grover Cleveland. The book is part of a series on American Presidents, which is being edited by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and published by Henry Holt and the New York Times. Graff, who taught at Columbia for 46 years, expects the Cleveland biography to be published in 2002.

The Kaul Foundation, based in Tampa, Fla., said Graff's career had been one of "service to the highest ideals of scholarship as a historian and expert on your specialty, the American presidency."

Graff has also written "The Free and the Brave: The Story of the American Peopl" (Rand McNally 1968) and" The Presidents: A Reference History" (Scribner 1984). He is currently working on a third edition of The Presidents, to be published in 2002. In addition, Graff has co-authored "The Modern Researcher" (Harcourt, Brace 1957) with Barzun, who served as Columbia's dean of faculties and provost from 1958 to 1967.

Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence," an 800-page survey of Western civilization, was one of five finalists for 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award's criticism category.

The Kaul Foundation, established in 1986, awards excellence in science, literature, fine arts, public health and safety and education. It was reated by economist and entrepreneur Ralph Kaul for the purpose of encouraging and rewarding excellence of national significance in a variety of disciplines.

Published: Nov 09, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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