Low Plaza

University's Alumni Federation Awards Ten Alumni with Medal for Distinguished Service

Barbara O. Grodd

Barry Kelner

Columbia graduates join a rich legacy of alumni who have gone on to influence their respective communities while staying connected to Alma Mater. On May 22, the Alumni Federation honored 10 of the University's distinguished alumni at its 104th Commencement Day Luncheon in Low Library. Senator George J. Mitchell, former U.S. Senator (D-Maine) and incoming senior fellow at SIPA's Center for International Conflict Resolution, addressed the gathering. This year's winners include the following:

With more than 30 years of domestic and international telecommunications experience, Sergio M. Brecher, SEAS '69 and GSAS '72, is the vice president of the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CSEAA). In 1996, the Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association awarded him its highest honor, the Crossed Hammers award. He has also received diploma degrees in electrical engineering and nuclear engineering from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he has served on the faculty and holds the United States Patent for Enhanced Call Waiting/Call Waiting Deluxe.

Eve O. Mayer

Harmon Smith

Attorney Kevin J. Collins, GSAS '95, has dedicated himself to higher education as a board member and treasurer of Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association as well as chairing the Board of Trustees, Governors and Overseers for Rutgers University and other universities. He has served on a number of professional boards such as Women in Media, George Washington Memorial Park, and the New Jersey Equal Opportunity Foundation. In January, Acting New Jersey Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco appointed him to the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and he has also served as chairman of the New Jersey Commission on the Outdoors, where he oversaw the preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres of public parkland.

After raising her children and enjoying a successful career in retailing, Barbara Ostrove Grodd, MSW '79, directed the substance abuse services at the Montefiore Medical Center on Rikers Island for eight years before co-founding the Friends of Island Academy, an educational program for incarcerated men and women between ages 16-20. She has published and presented widely on her work with vulnerable populations and has supervised numerous social work interns throughout her career in the criminal justice arena.

Judith Sulzberger

Kevin Collins

A Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, Ralph Italie, CC '50, GSAS '52, has been a loyal alumni member in a variety of ways having served on the 50th Reunion Committee, the GSAS Alumni Board and the Alumni Federation. He has worked with the Columbia Alumni Volunteers to match first year foreign graduate students with volunteers. He has been a successful teacher and tutor of subjects such as mathematics, French, Latin, and Greek.

As principal of Charitable Institutions for Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, Barry A. Kelner, CC '73, earned his J.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and has worked in banking for over 20 years. He has been actively involved in his community, serving on the Citizens League, Rotary Club, Republican Party and the Minneapolis Federation of Jewish Service. He has also chaired Columbia's Alumni Club of Minnesota and received the Columbia College Dean's Award for Alumni Service in 1988.

Miriam S. Zadek

Ralph Italie

Eve Orlans Mayer, Journalism '52, used her training as a reporter to pioneer the early years of television, write for medical and social welfare magazines, work in public relations for a variety of universities and finally, start her own public relations and marketing firm. She has been an interviewer for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and served as a board member for an organization at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons which works with inner city children. She has been an active member of the alumni executive committee for the J-School, organizing a numerous scholarships and benefit dinners.

A driving force in the establishment of the Columbia/Princeton Club, Harmon D. Smith, CC '56, has served on its board of directors since 1989 and as been president since 1996. He enjoyed a successful career in advertising before taking an early retirement to write full time. He has completed a biographical study of male friendship in his book, "My Friend, My Friend: The Story of Thoreau's Relationship with Emerson" (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1999) and "Tunnel of Love" a collection of short stories. The title story of the collection has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Smith is also a parent of a 1987 Columbia graduate and is a supporter of the Columbia Club Foundation.

Savio Tung

Sergio Brecher

Judith P Sulzberger, P&S '49, has been an active member of the P&S Alumni Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons for over 20 years. She played a leadership role in founding the Columbia Genome Center as an outgrowth of the National Institute of Health's Human Genome Initiative, now named the Judith P. Sulzberger Genome Center. She has practiced, researched and written widely on medical issues while maintaining her involvement with the alumni association and earning their highest service medal, the Gold Medal, in recognition of her loyalty and commitment.

An active member of Committee 100, an invitation-only organization comprised of prominent Chinese Americans, Savio W. Tung, Engineering '73, has served on various company boards including Saks Fifth Avenue, Independent Wireless One and is chairman of Vaultus, a wireless data software company. He is a management committee member with Investcorp International, Inc., where he oversees the firm's global technology and telecommunication investment activities. He's been a University Trustee since 1999 and also serves on the standing committees of development, alumni affairs and finance.

Former director of social work at the Hearing and Speech Agency of Baltimore, Miriam Scharfman Zadek, BC '50, MS '52, has worked for over 40 years with Barnard's Club of Central Maryland, helping alumnae stay connected. She has served on a variety of task forces and committees advocating for the needs of children, including the Governor's Advisory Committee for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Her commitment to Barnard has been seen in her various roles as class correspondent for Barnard magazine, volunteer student recruiter, Barnard alumnae admissions representative and founder of a scholarship fund in her name for commuting students.

Published: May 28, 2002
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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