Low Plaza

Columbia Graduates 10,000 Students on May 21; Commencement Webcast Live


Tens of thousands of students, alumni, faculty, family and University guests will gather at Low Library Plaza, for Commencement Exercises marking Columbia University's 249th academic year. Columbia expects to graduate more than 10,000 students on Wednesday, May 21, 2003, at 10:30 a.m. -- one of the largest classes in its history. Lee C. Bollinger will deliver his first commencement address as president of Columbia University. Click to view webcast

Columbia will also grant seven honorary degrees and will present the University Medal for Excellence.

Maya Angelou, internationally respected poet, performer, writer and educator, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Angelou is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, a position she has held since 1981. A Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee, her works include "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," "Gather Together in My Name," "And Still I Rise" and "The Heart of a Woman."

Julian Hochberg, Centennial Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Columbia University, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Hochberg is an eminent scholar in the field of perception -- the ways in which people perceive the real and represented world. He has written extensively on the psychological factors that underlie our understanding of motion pictures and the written word.

Sir Frank Kermode, prominent scholar, critic and teacher of English literature, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Kermode, who was knighted in Britain in 1991, has written more than 40 books, including acclaimed studies of Shakespeare and D.H. Lawrence. He published "Pleasing Myself: From Beowulf to Philip Roth," a collection of essays, in 2001. He was a visiting professor at Columbia in 1983 and has taught at Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine and Genetics at the University of Washington, Seattle, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. King is a pioneer in the use of genetic research in cancer epidemiology and was first to discover the genetic link in some families for breast cancer.

Constance Baker Motley, senior judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Motley had a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney and New York State senator, before her 1966 appointment to the federal bench.

Cecil Taylor, musician and composer, will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Taylor is a graduate of the New England School of Music. He founded the Jazz Composers Guild and has recorded more than 16 albums. His awards include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Andrew Wiles, Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. A graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, Wiles won international acclaim for solving one of the most complex challenges in mathematics: the 350-year-old problem in number theory known as Fermat's Last Theorem.

ABC News Senior National Correspondent Claire Shipman, a graduate of Columbia College and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), will receive the University Medal for Excellence. This award is presented each year to a Columbia alumnus or alumna whose record in scholarship, public service or professional life is outstanding. Shipman has been a distinguished broadcast journalist for more than two decades, covering such critical events as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tienanmen Square uprising and the Clinton White House crisis. Shipman has previously been honored with an Emmy Award, the Dupont Award and Columbia's John Jay Award for her work.

Traditionally at commencement, Columbia University also presents five Teaching Awards. The faculty members to be honored in 2003 are Professor Yannis P. Tsividis, Department of Electrical Engineering, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science; Professor Nicholas J. Turro, Department of Chemistry, School of Arts and Sciences; Professor Martin Meisel, Department of English and Comparative Literature, School of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Amy L. Fairchild, Department of Sociomedical Science, Mailman School of Public Health, and Professor Lawrence B. Engel Film Division, School of the Arts. The student recipients of the Presidential Awards for Outstanding Teaching are: Jacob Noel-Storr, department of astronomy; Erin M. Soros, department of English and comparative literature; and Priya Wadhera, department of French and romance philology.

Columbia, one of the world's leading universities and a member of the Ivy League, was founded in 1754, making the University the oldest institution of higher education in New York State and the fifth oldest in the country.

Published: May 19, 2003
Last modified: May 21, 2003

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