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Celebratory Commencement Marks University's 250th Year

 

SIPA graduates enjoy the school's tradition of waving each student's national flag during the 2003 commencement ceremony.
Credit: Eileen Barroso

As tens of thousands of students, faculty, family and University guests gather at Low Library Plaza on May 19, they will be marking a very special occasion -- commencement exercises celebrating Columbia's 250th academic year. President Lee C. Bollinger will give the commencement address.

Columbia will also grant honorary degrees and present the University Medal for Excellence. The following profiles are of this year's honorees.

Performance artist Laurie Anderson, BC'69 and SOA'72, will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Anderson , whose performance pieces include United States Parts I-IV and Home of the Brave, has reached a wider audience through the release of many innovative albums, including Big Science and Bright Red. She has received numerous awards for her groundbreaking work, including NEA grants in 1974, 1977 and 1979, a Guggenheim fellowship in 1983 and a Distinguished Graduate Award from Columbia 's School of the Arts in 1994. She was an art history instructor at the City College of New York, from 1973-75, and is currently an artist-in-residence at NASA.

David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, will receive an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree. A highly influential microbiologist, Baltimore taught at MIT for nearly three decades and has published more than 500 peer-reviewed articles. He won the Nobel Prize in physiology in 1975. Among his many other honors are National Academy of Sciences United States Steel Award in Molecular Biology (1975) and the National Medal of Science (1999). He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Robert Carter, senior judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. Carter, Law'41, LL.M., worked as a lawyer for the NAACP for 24 years (1944-68). During his tenure, he argued 22 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 21 of them, including Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. He was a Rosenwald fellow in 1940-41, a Columbia Urban Center fellow in 1968-69 and a Harvard Shikes fellow in 1990.

Arthur Danto, Columbia Johnsonian Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Danto, who has been a member of the University faculty since 1951, obtained both his M.A., 1949, and Ph.D., 1952, at Columbia. An art critic for The Nation magazine, a contributing editor at Art Forum and an editor of the Journal of Philosophy, Danto is the author of numerous books. His Reflections: Art in the Historical Present won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1990. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has been honored with a Fulbright Fellowship (1949-50) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1970, 1982).

Attorney Oliver Hill will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. In 1948 Hill was the first African American to be elected to the Richmond, Va., City Council since the Reconstruction era. He served as director of the Virginia chapter of the NAACP, and during that time worked on the Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County case in Virginia, which was one of the five cases the Supreme Court combined into its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Among his many honors are the national Bar Association's Lawyer of the Year Award (1959), the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Simple Justice Award (1986) and the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award (1994).

Louis Pollak, senior judge, United States District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. From 1950 until he became a judge in 1978, Pollak was associated with the NAACP, first as a volunteer lawyer, then as a board member and vice president with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is the author of The Constitution and the Supreme Court: A Documentary History. Pollak has been a member of the Council of the American Law Institute since 1978; he is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, he was awarded the Harvard School of Law Medal of Freedom.

Leo Steinberg, art historian, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Steinberg is equally eloquent on Renaissance, Baroque and 20th-century art. In 1975 he was appointed the Benjamin Franklin Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1991 became Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus. At Columbia he taught as Slade Lecturer (1982) and Meyer Schapiro Visiting Professor (1991). His books, such as Encounters With Rauschenberg and The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, reveal a wide-ranging intellect. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1978 and received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1986.

Craig Steven Wilder, historian, will receive the University Medal for Excellence. Wilder was a history professor at Williams College from 1995-2002, when he left to join the history faculty at Dartmouth. He is the author of In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on American Culture in New York City. Wilder is a member of the Organization of American Historians, and chair of its committee on the status of minority historians and minority history. He received a New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Ford Fellowship (1998-99).

Jack Weinstein, senior judge, United States District Court for Eastern New York, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. He served on the faculty of the University's Law School from 1952-1967, and then as an adjunct professor from 1967-1998. He is currently an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. Weinstein is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. He won the Harvard University School of Law Medal of Freedom in 2000.

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Published: May 19, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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