From left: Claire Shipman, Michael Hoffman, Stelio Papadimitriou, Michael Tusiani, Lisa Anderson, Brent Scowcroft, Ken Knuckles and David Dinkins
The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) presented the fifth annual Global Leadership Awards on March 29 to recognize the tremendous public service contributions of individuals and organizations and provide critical support for SIPA fellowships. Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, GSAS'67; Kenneth J. Knuckles, president and chief executive officer of Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ); and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, an organization founded by the late Aristotle Onassis to enhance research and education in key policy arenas worldwide, were the 2005 honorees.
ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman, CC'86, SIPA'94, served as master of ceremonies, which were held at the Pierre Hotel. "I remember my days as a student at SIPA as almost intoxicating -- diverse, rigorous and empowering academic programs…led by a gifted, accomplished and absolutely dedicated faculty," she said. "SIPA is the gold-standard in education for international and public affairs, and we all benefit from its service to the global community."
The event also included remarks from SIPA Dean Lisa Anderson, Columbia Professor of Professional Practice David Dinkins, and dinner co-chairs Michael Hoffman and Michael Tusiani.
Mayor David Dinkins introduced the first honoree, Kenneth Knuckles, who received the Harvey Picker Award for Distinguished Public Service for his work in Upper Manhattan. Since Knuckles took over the reins of UMEZ in 2003, the organization has allocated $30 million in loans, grants and bonds to finance businesses and cultural organization expansion, creating hundreds of new jobs.
Prior to joining UMEZ, Knuckles spent seven years at Columbia as vice president of support services. He also was commissioner of the New York City Department of General Service. "I accept this award as a symbol of the ongoing collaboration between Columbia and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone," said Knuckles. "I do operate from the assumption that Columbia is my partner in our work to bring employment, equity and wealth [to the area]."
Each year, SIPA presents the Schuyler C. Wallace Award for Distinguished Public Service to a nonprofit organization making a significant difference in bettering the lives of local, national or international communities. Stelio Papadimitriou, president of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, accepted the award.
In his acceptance remarks, Papadimitriou emphasized the foundation's work in education and the promotion of classical studies. Yet, the mission of the foundation, named after Aristotle Onassis' late son, is much broader. "From building a state-of-the-art cardiac hospital in Athens to providing humanitarian aid for the victims of the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia, the foundation has helped thousands of people around the globe," said Anderson.
"Brent Scowcroft, who is among Columbia's most eminent alumni, was the obvious choice this year for the Andrew Wellington Cordier Award, our honor for superior and distinguished public service," said the dean, in announcing the award. "Deeply loyal to his country, he spent over three decades in the military service working under three U.S. presidents. We also recognize his valuable contributions as a national leader in both the government and the private sector."
Scowcroft, who celebrated his 80th birthday just weeks before the dinner, served as assistant to the president for national security affairs to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush. He also was military assistant to President Nixon and deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs under Presidents Nixon and Ford.
Dean Anderson echoed Shipman's earlier enthusiasm about the degree and the caliber of individuals now attracted to the master's program. As a highlight of the evening, the dean introduced two current students -- Cecilia " Coco" Quisumbing, the daughter of a SIPA alumna and former news anchor of CNBC Asia, and the other a financial lawyer and grandfather. "Arriving [on campus] at 64 could have been pretty scary, but I felt very welcome," said international lawyer Anthony Gooch, class of 2005. "I feel that SIPA is doing a wonderful job of training people. … [The school] will be part of the solution to some of the thorniest problems the world has to face in the next generation."