Columbia graduates join a rich legacy of alumni who have gone on to influence their communities while staying connected to Alma Mater. In honor of this spirit, 10 distinguished alumni will receive awards for their diligent work from the Columbia University Alumni Federation at the 106th Commencement Day Luncheon on May 19 in Low Library. The keynote speaker will be musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, BC'69, SOA'72, who will also receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree. This year's medalists, along with their significant accomplishments and contributions, are described below.
Laurence E. Balfus, CC'55, GSAS'00, has worked with Alumni Affairs and Development as a fundraiser, a class agent and a member of the CC'55 steering committee, now planning for its 50th reunion. His current efforts entail early establishment of alumni-undergraduate connections. Balfus has been a member of the Nassau Alumni Representative Committee for the past 25 years, serving as chair for the last 15 years. He is a member of the Society of Columbia Graduates and the Columbia University Alumni Club of Nassau County and has served on welcoming committees for Presidents Rupp and Bollinger. A John Jay associate, Balfus endowed the Adelle Phyllis Balfus Scholarship at the College and a "Jerusalem Stone" at the Kraft Center for Jewish Campus Life. A retired director of anesthesiology at St. Joseph's Hospital in Queens, Balfus, at age 66, earned an M.A. in Jewish Studies in 2000. As a participant in the John Jay Colloquium, he is continuing his Columbia education.
Wayne J. Dawkins, Journalism'80, cofounded the Black Alumni Network newsletter and has served as editor of the monthly publication since 1980. The newsletter began with a dozen readers and absorbed future alumni classes. Hundreds of alumni, journalism industry allies and friends now read BAN, and in 2002 the editions went online at www.jrn.columbia.edu. Dawkins was a 1990 Distinguished Journalism Alumni award winner and is currently a member of the Journalism Alumni Executive Committee. From 1980 to 2003, Dawkins worked at four newspapers: Daily Press (Virginia); Post-Tribune ( Indiana ); Courier-Post ( New Jersey ) and The Daily Argus ( New York ). He is managing editor of BlackAmericaWeb.com and contributing editor at BlackJournalist. com. Dawkins is author of Rugged Waters: Black Journalists Swim the Mainstream and The NABJ Story.
Richard A. Elias, P&S'55, has served on the National Visiting Council of the College of Physicians & Surgeons for many years. He has also been chair of its clinical research committee. More than $1 million was donated in his honor to Columbia , and the Alumni Auditorium at P&S was dedicated in his honor. Elias' practice has taken him around the world, having lectured in China, Japan, India, South Africa, and North and South America. Currently, he is chair of the Miami Heart Research Institute, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Miami and chief of the Miami Heart Institute.
Andrew Gaspar, Engineering'69, has been deeply involved with Columbia ever since graduation. He has served as an alumni interviewer for the Columbia Admissions Office for the past 18 years and has been on every reunion committee of his class, and is now helping to plan his class's 35th reunion. Gaspar was chair of the Columbia University Engineering Council for two years, served as an officer of the SEAS Alumni Association, and is currently a member of the Egleston Award Committee. He has lectured at Columbia on career choices and new business development and served as a judge for new business competitions. Gaspar is currently chairman of Schroder Venture Partners, a private equity investment firm specializing in communications, media, technology and business services. He spent 24 years as a technology investor with Warburg Pincus and the Lauder Gaspar Funds, following 10 years with RCA Corp.
Edward L. Kleinert, Public Health'83, has served as an active and involved supporter of the University, the School of Public Health , and the Alumni Association for more than 20 years. In his role as a member of the School of Public Health Alumni Board he has worked tirelessly to develop programming, generate support, and serve the needs of the school, its students and its alumni. During his term of office as president of the board he was a driving force behind the joining of the School of Public Health Alumni Association and the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences Alumni Association into one entity. He serves as an adjunct on the faculties of the Mailman School, New York University and Marymount Manhattan College in addition to his post as administrator of information technology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center .
Mary D. Lindsay, Nursing'45, joined the Board of Visitors of the Nursing School in 1995. The same year, she chaired her 50th reunion. As a founding member of Columbia and Presbyterian School of Nursing Alumni, she and her colleagues have worked to form one united Alumni Association for the Nursing School. Since graduation, most of her nursing-related activities have been in the private sector, working as a volunteer with the intent of creating social change. She has served on numerous boards, including those of the East Woods School , East Harlem Tutorial Program, Huntington Hospital, Union Theological Seminary, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Margaret Sanger Research Bureau, Planned Parenthood of NYC, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Pathfinder International and the U.S. Committee for the United Nations Population Fund. Lindsay was an NGO representative at the Cairo Conference in 1994 and at the Hague in 1998, working as a champion of gender equality and women's health. She received both the Nursing School's Alumni Award in 1998 and its Alumni of the Century Award in 2004.
Conrad Lung, CC'72, one of the founders of the Asian Columbian Alumni Association, is the first Asian American to receive the John Jay Award. In his remarks at the awards dinner, Lung announced the formation of a scholarship for Asian students who study at Columbia . Lung is the president and cofounder of Sunnex, Inc., a New York-based manufacturer and marketer of apparel in the United States, Canada and Latin America . A native of Canton, China, Lung taught at Yale before joining Wrightfox International as a vice president in 1979. He also worked at Maurice Sasson Jeans and New York Jean Co. before founding Sunnex in 1985.
Helen Rehr, SW'45,'70, has been a mentor to students of Columbia and Hunter, having served both institutions on numerous committees -- most recently Columbia University School of Social Work's Doctoral Committee and Center for the Study of Social Work Practice. Rehr has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her professional association and inducted into the Hall of Fame of both Hunter and Columbia . She is currently professor of community medicine emerita and consultant on social-health research, education and program planning to Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Center . She is the retired director of Department of Social Work Services, and was also director of the academic Division of Social Work, and director of the Division of Continuous Education of the Brookdale Center of Mount Sinai. She has been active in enhancing social-health care in local and national programs, but also internationally in Israel and Australia , where she has held visiting professorships. She retired from Mount Sinai in 1986, but she remains active at the institution and in a number of professional and community organizations.
Marilyn Rich Rosenblatt, BC'52, is president of the Barnard College Club of New York, president of the Class of 1952, and a member of the Barnard Reunion Committee. She has organized highly successful meetings and fund-raisers for the Barnard College Club of NY, whose club membership has significantly increased this year. In 1989 she coordinated a concert by the New York Philharmonic and a reception with its conductor, Zubin Mehta, at Lincoln Center , celebrating the Barnard College Centennial. Rosenblatt worked for New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch for three years as administrator of Gracie Mansion, and in 1986 she helped plan the festivities for Liberty Weekend before opening her own events company, Charge d'Affaires, in 1987. She is currently involved with a Centennial Celebration for Stuyvesant High School and is on the planning board for a Museum of American Music, to be located in New York City .
Daniel L. Zedeker, DOS'83, has served on the School of Dental and Oral Surgery Alumni Board for eight years, including two years as president. He was also the editor of the school's alumni association publication for more than five years. He continues to travel to SDOS alumni events to support ongoing development of the association and has been particularly active in recruiting new individuals to the Alumni Executive Committee. Zedeker has been an assistant clinical professor of dentistry at SDOS for more than 20 years and has served on the SDOS Admissions Committee since 2001. He has published numerous articles in professional journals and lectured internationally at professional dental meetings. He frequently mentors SDOS students in his private midtown practice, which helps them determine the exact nature of their future practice activities and school involvement.