President Lee C. Bollinger has announced that Columbia Trustee Gerry Lenfest (Law '58) has donated $12 million to the University to establish a new category of awards honoring exceptional teaching in the Arts and Sciences.
The Lenfest gift creates the Distinguished Columbia Faculty Awards, furthering the University's commitment to classroom excellence. The awards will be given annually to faculty of unusual merit across a range of professorial activities -- including scholarship, University citizenship and professional involvement -- with a primary emphasis on the instruction and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.
"Columbia is proud of its longstanding and continued tradition of academic excellence and faculty achievement," said President Bollinger. "Gerry's remarkable generosity gives the University another way to recognize and support the outstanding faculty in the Arts and Sciences who excel in their roles as teachers and mentors."
"I'm extraordinarily pleased to be able to help recognize distinguished instructors in the Arts and Sciences," Lenfest said. "The best professors elevate the academic experience for undergraduate and graduate students alike and set an example for all to follow. Such effective and inspired instruction is essential to the University's mission and ensures Columbia's continuing leadership and vitality as an intellectual community."
A longtime supporter of the University, Lenfest donated $15 million to the Earth Institute in May 2004 and previously contributed $15 million toward the construction of Lenfest Hall, a residence for students at Columbia Law School.
Under the terms of the gift, the vice president for Arts and Sciences will chair a selection committee that includes six senior faculty of his or her choosing. Each year the committee will select up to 10 faculty members, who will be honored at a public ceremony and will receive annual awards of $25,000 for a three-year period.
"A commitment to excellent teaching has long been one of Columbia's hallmarks," said Nicholas Dirks, vice president of Arts and Sciences. "Gerry Lenfest's generous gift will allow us to recognize and reward a significant number of Columbia faculty in the Arts and Sciences who are inspirational teachers as well as distinguished scholars."
The Arts and Sciences at Columbia comprises 29 academic departments whose faculty teach courses in five schools -- Columbia College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of General Studies, the School of the Arts and the School of International and Public Affairs.