The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism awarded its inaugural Dean's Medal for Public Service to Daniel J. Edelman, CC'40, Journalism '41, founder and chair of Daniel J. Edelman Inc., the largest independent public relations firm in the world.
The medal recognizes alumni who have made a significant contribution to society through professional accomplishments and civic involvement. It honors extraordinary lifetime achievement by Columbia University Journalism School graduates, including those who have had outstanding and distinguished careers in fields outside of journalism.
"We want to emphasize in particular their contributions as citizens, as well as professionally," said Nicholas Lemann, dean of the School of Journalism. "There could be no better initial recipient than Daniel Edelman, who is both a world leader in his field and an outstandingly generous and public-spirited man."
The medal will be presented by Dean Lemann on April 16 at a luncheon ceremony to be held during the Journalism School's Alumni Weekend.
Edelman's public service and philanthropic efforts span a wide range of causes, from violence prevention to autism advocacy, through charities such as Chicago Cares and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. He also serves on the Board of The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention and the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel. He also has served on the boards of the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Northwestern University Music School, and the Save the Children Alliance.
This service ethic is also built into the culture of his company. The Edelman U.S. network provides pro bono support to a range of national institutions including Cure Autism Now; America's Promise and Global Business Coalition, which helps to focus the abilities of the global business community to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The company also led an online public information campaign for residents and businesses in the aftermath of 9/11; helped the World Economic Forum run their media relations for its annual gathering of world leaders; and helped the American Red Cross reach out to the Atlanta corporate community.
"It's a great honor for me to receive the first annual Dean's Award," says Edelman. "Achieving the master's degree in journalism at Columbia represented a very important aspect of my training in journalism. It will be very uplifting for me emotionally to be back in that magnificent Low Memorial Library to receive this recognition."
A native New Yorker, Edelman was an enlisted man and officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and received four battle stars and the Commendation Medal. He was a news writer for CBS before moving into public relations in New York. He started his firm in Chicago in 1952.
The recipient of numerous awards, Edelman was inducted into the Arthur Page Society's Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1998, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Inside PR magazine and was selected for the Chicago Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement. He received the highest honor accorded in the public relations field, the Gold Anvil Award from Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), in 1999. His firm has won 35 Silver Anvils awarded by the PRSA and was selected 1993 Agency of the Year in an Inside PR survey of public relations firms. In 2003, Edelman was named Agency of the Year by the Holmes Report and was recently named one of the Best Agencies in 2004 by Advertising Age.