Feb. 27, 2008

Columbia Announces Endowment of
Weston/Black Alumni Council Professorship

Special from The Record


A newly endowed chair in the Arts and Sciences—the first focused on African American studies—is being created with the support of the University’s Black Alumni Council.


M. Moran Weston
M. Moran Weston
Photo courtesy of Columbia
University Archives

The M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professorship, named in recognition of Columbia’s first African American trustee, is expected to be formally approved by the University’s Trustees in the spring.


“In addition to its impact on African American studies at Columbia, this chair will strengthen the presence of African American alumni in the life of the University,” said Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. (CC’78), a U.S. District Court judge who championed the effort to establish the chair.


“It’s wonderful to have African American alumni who have a strong connection with both Columbia College and Columbia University investing in the development of African-American Studies,” said Manning Marable, a professor of public affairs and history and the founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies.


The Black Alumni Council was formed in the mid-1990s by Columbia College alumni leaders who sought to strengthen links between the College and its African American graduates.


The chair is named in honor of M. Moran Weston (CC'30, GSAS'40, GSAS'69), who was devoted to improving the social condition of thousands in the Harlem community. Weston served as rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and was also a founder of Carver Federal Savings Bank, the largest independent financial institution in the United States owned by African Americans. The University awarded Weston an honorary degree in sacred theology in 1969, the year he became Columbia’s first African American trustee. Previously named in Weston’s honor are both a lectureship at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a plaza on the Morningside campus—the latter marking the first public space on campus honoring an African American.


“Columbia was very near and dear to my dad’s heart,” says Gregory Weston (LAW’82), counsel at the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP. “It was perhaps the most important institution to him throughout his life, and he would be thrilled to be linked in such a meaningful and permanent way to the school that he loved so much.”

Supporters of the new chair include the Garland E. Wood Foundation, established by Garland Wood (CC’65, BUS’72), and a number of other prominent African American alumni, including Gregory Weston; Judge Greenaway; Eric Holder (CC’73 LAW’ 76), an attorney and partner at Covington & Burling; actor and former Microsoft executive Ronald Simons (CC’86, BUS’89); and George Van Amson (CC’74), managing director at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. University Trustees Chair Bill Campbell (CC’62), chairman of Intuit, also is a leading contributor.


This gift counts toward the $4 billion Columbia Campaign, a University-wide effort that was launched in the fall of 2006 and is expected to conclude in 2011. More than $2.64 billion has been raised to date for the campaign.


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