Columbia College honored four alumni with John Jay Awards for distinguished professional achievement in a black-tie celebration at New York City's Plaza Hotel on March 2. The honorees, Allison Butts, CC'64, Virginia W. Cornish, CC'91, Mark Kingdon, CC'71, and Fernando Ortiz Jr., CC'79, represent a range of careers: travel and real estate, teaching and research, finance and U.N. peacekeeping, respectively.
The awards are named for the first chief justice of the United States, a member of the King's College class of 1764, and are presented annually. Proceeds from the dinner support the John Jay National Scholarship Program, which provides financial aid and special programming for College students.
President Lee C. Bollinger, who presented the awards, pledged support for the College's policy of need-blind admissions and full-need financial aid, saying, "One principle I and all of us in this room hold highest is that we will give a Columbia education to all who qualify, regardless of family income." And Dean Austin Quigley introduced the honorees by observing, "Extraordinary people aren't born so, they become so, and it is the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people that make us proud to be in the Columbia family."
Butts served as general counsel for development of the Marriott Corp. and helped spearhead its international expansion. Cornish, who joined Columbia's chemistry department in 1999 and was promoted to associate professor in 2004, is the first alumna of the College to be hired to a tenure-track faculty position at Columbia since the College became coeducational in 1983. Kingdon, who serves on the University Board of Trustees, is president of Kingdon Capital Management, a New York City-based investment management firm that he founded in 1983. Ortiz serves as legal officer to the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, collaborating with senior management to develop policy and strategy and frequently traveling to areas of peacekeeping operations to conduct predeployment and induction training on military and police doctrine.