Pioneering Dean Gives SIPA $1M

Photograph: Harvey Picker.

Harvey Picker, dean emeritus of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), has given $1 million to the school to help train a new leadership core with technical, managerial and policy skills and develop mid-career education programs.

Picker, who was a business executive and government adviser before becoming dean at Columbia in 1972, stepped down in 1983 to devote himself to foundation projects and public service activities.

President Rupp said in announcing the gift: "This new generosity from Harvey Picker continues his devoted service to the School of International and Public Affairs, which achieved new heights of excellence under his stewardship. His organizational foresight and knowledge of the intersections of science, technology and government have continued to be invaluable in helping the school remain a leader in its fields."

John Ruggie, dean of the school since 1991, said in a tribute to his predecessor: "Harvey Picker was a pioneering dean. Now, as dean emeritus, he continues to help the school for which he cares so deeply to adapt to a very different marketplace. Organizational leaders with combined technical, managerial and policy training are already at a premium. Thanks to this gift, we will be able to help meet the demand for graduates with these crucial skills."

Several initiatives to strengthen the school are planned. Of high priority are the recruitment of students with undergraduate degrees in engineering, computer science and environmental sciences and the establishment of fellowships for them in the two degree programs offered by the school, the Master of International Affairs and the Master of Public Affairs, the latter founded during Picker's tenure as dean. To provide more sophisticated interactive teaching in statistics and economics, the school will expand the capacity of its computer laboratory classroom. Cutting-edge, computer-based case studies on contemporary international economic, business and government management and policy issues will be developed, using data from the World Bank, the U.N. and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to support analytic and simulation exercises.

In its international affairs program, the school plans to expand its recruitment of students from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in conjunction with the highly competitive U.S. government-sponsored Muskie Fellowship program. The development of a mid-career program will be an essential part of SIPA's future mission, Dean Ruggie said, which will serve leadership professionals in the U.N. and New York City-based consulates, as well as private sector non-profit organizations. Further plans call for additional degree programs, non-credit mini-courses, distance learning and the use of self-teaching interactive software.

Picker, whose gift was made by his family's Branta Foundation, said: "SIPA is the best. But even the best must keep changing. I have great confidence in the ability of Dean John Ruggie to keep the school at the forefront of educating future leaders in international and public affairs. I hope that this gift helps him do that."

Picker's past gifts to Columbia have created the Jean Picker Fellowship for Women in International Affairs, named in honor of his late wife, a former U.S. delegate to the U.N. and director of the U.N. Association, and the James Picker Professorship in Radiology in the Faculty of Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

After Picker's retirement, he moved from his long-time residence in Mamaroneck, N.Y., to Maine, where he began the Camden Conference, a yearly forum on international topics. He also founded the Maine Health Care Conference and is a commissioner of the Maine Health Care Finance Commission. He is the owner and operator of Wayfarer Marine Corp. in Camden. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Political Science Association.

Picker, 79, is an honorary Fellow of the American College of Radiologists. He was chief executive officer of the Picker Corp., manufacturers of X-ray and nuclear instruments, from 1946 until 1968. He remained chairman of the board of the company, which was founded by his father, James, until 1982. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Columbia University Record -- October 6, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 5