Previous Recipients


Jamie Kern Lima and Paolo Lima
You met in a statistics class at Columbia Business School and became partners in work and in life, launching IT Cosmetics from your California apartment in 2008, with a business plan hatched on your honeymoon. IT Cosmetics, grounded in Innovative Technology, is now a global brand, available at major retailers around the world and a top seller on QVC, the home shopping television channel. Annual sales hit $182 million before it was acquired by L’Oréal in 2016 for $1.2 billion. Jamie is the first woman to be Chief Executive Officer of a L’Oréal brand, and Paulo is Co-Founder and Co-CEO. Like countless entrepreneurs before you, upon receiving your degrees in the spring of 2004, you began careers in one profession only to achieve extraordinary success in another. Jamie, after writing for the Columbia Business School student newspaper, The Bottom Line, pursued a career in journalism, returning to your home state of Washington to be a television news reporter. Paulo became an investment banker on Wall Street. Then, inspired by a personal experience, you came together to begin the venture of IT Cosmetics. You worked 100-hour weeks and faced repeated rejection as you tried to build and promote your brand. For three years, you did not take a salary. But you had a vision: to provide women with cosmetics that would boost their self-confidence while improving their skin. You worked with board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons to ensure your products met the highest standards of quality. Your success inspired you to give back, by donating more than $20 million in products to the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” program for women suffering from cancer, as well as millions more to other philanthropies devoted to empowering women. You also give back to Columbia, returning to campus often to share your time, energy, and knowledge. Your drive, dedication, and commitment to innovation make Columbia proud to count you among its graduates, and to honor you with the University Medal for Excellence.
Molly Ola Pinney
Molly Ola Pinney, you are a teacher, an advocate, and an entrepreneur. The Global Autism Project you founded in 2003, when you were just 23 years old, has changed the lives of thousands of families around the world. It began when you moved to Ghana to help an American expatriate family care for their child with autism. Soon you cast your gaze outward, at local children with autism and families who were marginalized, the children accused of being possessed by “bad spirits.” Swayed by fear and misinformation about autism, one mother told you she would have preferred a diagnosis of a terminal illness. It was at this point that you resolved to help these children and families, whose fears about autism were misplaced or misguided. You were determined to provide credible information and guidance. Accordingly, you founded an organization that provides culturally relevant training and education for families of children with autism, teachers and other professionals, and community members. After you returned to the United States in 2005 to enroll in Columbia’s School of General Studies, you returned to Ghana at every opportunity to make sure that work continued. But you wanted to go further, to bring hope to every parent in every country who equated an autism diagnosis with a death sentence. The Global Autism Project now operates in ten countries, spanning four continents. It is a vital resource for the 70 million people in the world with autism, 85 percent of whom reside in developing countries. As your organization’s website proclaims, “Autism Knows No Borders; Fortunately Neither Do We.” As a student at Columbia’s School of General Studies, you wrote your senior thesis on American families of children with autism. In your research, you discovered that misplaced fears and misinformation about autism were prevalent in the U.S., too. You discovered instances of stigma and denial across socioeconomic classes in the U.S., affecting access to therapy and other services. These findings, you would later discover, could significantly impact public health policy. Your accomplishments represent the best of the School of General Studies and the nontraditional students it serves. And your work around the world exemplifies the University’s global mission. We are proud to count you among our alumni and to honor you with the University Medal for Excellence.
Karen Brooks Hopkins
As President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, you helped turn a modest arts venue into an electric hub of avant-garde activity that transformed a quiet neighborhood and created a powerhouse cultural destination. That Brooklyn today rivals Manhattan in the global artistic imagination is due in no small part to the force of your irrepressible personality and the generosity of your inexhaustible heart. You began your career at BAM in 1979, under the equally inspiring and imposing arts administrator Harvey Lichtenstein. Your assignment from him was to “work like hell,” and, for more than three decades, that is exactly what you did. Under your leadership, the organization’s endowment exploded, making possible a series of capital projects that revolutionized its physical and artistic footprint. With your help, BAM introduced original, creative ventures that subverted convention and established bold new standards. Chief among them was the Next Wave Festival, in which audiences were exposed to novel theatrical experiences that challenged them to think differently about the nature of art and the world around them. You were known for believing in and nurturing young artists, resolute in your commitment to supporting the new and the untested. Always, you fought to keep BAM accessible and affordable and very much a part of the community it called home. In 2015, shortly before your retirement, a landmark architectural project was announced to link all of BAM’s buildings together in one unified campus—a fitting capstone to a lifetime of transformative work. In all that you have done, you have embodied President John F. Kennedy’s famous declaration that “the arts incarnate the creativity of a free society.” You are the arts incarnate and have harnessed your unrivaled resilience and grit to build a world in which imagination and intellect tower over conformity and mediocrity. Columbia is proud to celebrate your contributions to our free society with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Douglas Chalmers
A university delivers most fully on its promise when the ideas and knowledge generated within its walls are made tangible, expressible, and accessible to all for the betterment of society. For nearly six decades, you have devoted yourself to this vital undertaking as an inspiring teacher and a scholar of rare distinction. An expert on politics, democracy, and social change, you were recruited by Columbia in 1966 and have made it your academic home. You served as Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), Chair of the Department of Political Science, and Interim Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. Under your leadership, ILAS blossomed into an innovative hub for Latin American political scholarship. As a mentor to generations of budding scholars and public servants, you offered guidance without ego or orthodoxy, creating networks of Latin American experts across disciplines and schools. In so doing, over the span of your illustrious career, you transformed the field. Your acumen as a professor is informed and undergirded by an abiding belief in the centrality of the student experience to the vitality of academic project. You began teaching undergraduates in Columbia’s Core Curriculum as a tenured professor and have continued to do so more than a decade after your official retirement. The affection and admiration your students express toward you are rivaled only by the respect and warmth you have shown them. In one of the Core Curriculum’s foundational texts, Plato’s Republic, Socrates proclaims that education “has the power to awaken the best part of the soul and lead it upward to the study of the best among the things that are.” For your talent, your integrity, and your determination to awaken the best part of the soul in everyone fortunate enough to study with you, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Robert Langer
There is a strong likelihood that, among the thousands of people assembled at Columbia University’s 2019 Commencement, some have you to thank for saving their lives. Though you never treated them as a physician, you contributed to their care, as a chemical engineer drawn to biomedical research. Growing up in Albany, New York, you excelled in math and science. With degrees in chemical engineering from Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you could have gone to work for a major oil company. Instead, you opted for a postdoctoral fellowship with cancer researcher Dr. Judah Folkman at Boston Children’s Hospital. There, at the dawn of an astonishing career that is still going strong four decades later, you developed a way to choke off a tumor’s blood supply by striking it precisely with a flow of medicine. In so doing, you revolutionized the way cancer is treated. In the early years of your career, many considered your ideas unconventional. Even when your work was published in major medical journals, your ideas were greeted with skepticism. Today, more than 20 million cancer patients have received care based on your discoveries, not to mention the millions more who have benefitted from treatments you pioneered for conditions including diabetes, schizophrenia, and heart disease. You joined the MIT faculty in 1977. Nearly a decade later, when a colleague suggested forming a company, you became an entrepreneur. Since then, your lab has incubated some 40 businesses. You hold more than 1,000 patents licensed or sublicensed to pharmaceutical, chemical, biotech, and medical device companies. You are now one of ten Institute Professors at MIT, the highest honor awarded to a faculty member. Among the countless awards you have received are the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering, the National Medal of Science, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. And you have not stopped innovating. Your research now includes nanotechnology—tiny chips that can be implanted in the body to dispense drugs when a signal is activated—and tissue generation used to repair spinal cord injuries. For your groundbreaking work as a scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, scholar, and educator, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Peter Awn
The singular life of Peter Awn recalls Michel de Montaigne’s famous observation that “every movement reveals us.” For Peter, the movements were vibrant, the revelations profound. The path he chose illuminated a passionate devotion to serving others, to creating a legacy that would endure in the University community he called home. His gifts as a scholar, teacher, and mentor were legendary. His achievements as Dean of Columbia’s School of General Studies were transformational. Peter found his way to a life of scholarship through an early fascination with religion and the classics. Born in Brooklyn to Lebanese Christian parents, he studied theology and philosophy and was ordained a Jesuit priest before earning his PhD in Islamic religion from Harvard University. He came to Columbia in 1978 and, for two decades, he dazzled with his wit, his warmth, and his deeply felt interest in the wellbeing of his students. Upon being named Dean of the School of General Studies in 1997, Peter found another calling. He would carry forward the work of his predecessors and fulfill the promise of a special undergraduate school created to realize the vast potential of its nontraditional students. He elevated and simplified the academic requirements. He created dual-degree programs with Sciences Po, the City University of Hong Kong, and Trinity College Dublin. He strengthened the oldest and largest post baccalaureate premedical program in the country. He embraced what was distinctive about the School, recognizing that the experiences of students who had lived in the world would add invaluable richness in the classroom. He understood the power of discussing the Iliad with an army veteran or of reading Medea with a mother of two. He recruited military veterans and helped bring Naval ROTC back to Columbia, working tirelessly to heal longstanding rifts between universities and the women and men of the armed forces. In all that he did, he changed forever the character of the University he loved, creating a new model for the future of elite higher education. It is with a heavy heart that Columbia honors a cherished leader of the University who left us too soon. In all his movements, this uncommon Dean revealed a curious intellect, an open heart, an infectious enthusiasm for our mission, and an irrepressible determination to lift up those in his charge. With his indelible presence still very much enveloping us, we posthumously honor Peter J. Awn with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.


Elizabeth Diller
Yours is the story of an iconoclastic upstart who became one of the preeminent architects of a generation. As a young student at Cooper Union in the 1970s, you were drawn to the rigor and dynamism of architecture, despite an earlier resolution never to go into the profession. There, you met Ricardo Scofidio, who would become your partner in business and in life, the two of you destined to become the first architects to receive MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. For two decades, you and he eschewed traditional brick-and-mortar constructions for transient installations that reveled in the rejection of convention. This confident and knowingly ironic embrace of an impermanent architecture was perhaps best captured by the provocative Blur Building, an ephemeral pavilion of mist hovering over a lake in Switzerland. After accepting your first building commission from a major cultural institution, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, you developed a seminal design that achieved a well-calibrated balance between indoor and outdoor space, and between the demands of a private museum and the public waterfront on which it was built. With the High Line in New York, you reimagined the relationship between the city and its pedestrians, celebrating the immense power of altered perspective, much to the delight of the millions who experience this destination every year. At Lincoln Center, you transformed a hallowed space and its imposing building facades into a bustling tableau of urban culture. We are fortunate at Columbia to be the beneficiaries of your extraordinary vision and talent. The award- winning Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, opened in 2016, is the physical resource essential to Columbia’s reimagining of 21st-century medical education. And the dramatic, facing structures you have designed to be the new home of Columbia Business School will rightfully be featured as the centerpieces of Columbia’s Manhattanville campus. For fearlessly reinventing some of the most cherished urban spaces in the nation, and for embracing through your inspiring work the ironies that give meaning to our lives, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Bradley Efron
The advances in statistical theory and its applications that you have been responsible for are profound. Not only have they helped to establish the foundation for the modern field of statistics, the impact of your scholarship reaches nearly every branch of scientific inquiry, from bioinformatics and genomics to physics and astronomy. You were a graduate student at Stanford when you understood that statistics, not mathematics, was where your academic future lay. You were drawn to the lifesaving work of the medical school and decided to focus your attention on devising statistical methods that would help determine the efficacy of drugs, genetic variants associated with disease, the impact of HIV antiretroviral therapy, and heart surgery outcomes. You also delved into physics and astronomy, notably modeling gamma-ray bursts. Your achievements have been recognized with honors and awards too numerous to count, the National Medal of Science and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship among them. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Jewish-Russian immigrants, you grew up in a world surrounded by numbers, watching your father crunch data for local amateur sports teams and reading all the local library’s books on mathematics. From the start of your academic career, you focused on the science of information gathering and the interpretation of data. This approach led to your discovery of the “bootstrap” method, a plebeian moniker for one of the more significant discoveries in the field of statistics over the past half century. By recognizing and then harnessing the formidable power of the earliest generations of computers, you were able to develop a method for determining the margin of error of a given measurement through random resampling. Since you arrived at this discovery nearly 40 years ago, more than 11,000 scientific papers have employed your method. For your curiosity, your diligence, your exceptional intellect, and your legacy of pioneering and far-reaching innovations in the field of statistics, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Patrick Gaspard
While your achievements as a White house official, ambassador to South Africa, and political advisor are inspiring in their own right, it is your renowned diligence and humility that have set you apart as a leader and beloved colleague. The late South African poet and activist Keorapetse Kgositsile wrote, “The festive heart knows that / it is always possible to do more / of what you must do / and to do it better, always.” You, Patrick Gaspard, have such a heart. Born to dissident Haitian parents in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, you would come to New York City and find here your own powerful political voice. A passion for revealing corruption and the abuse of power made you an effective community organizer at a precocious age and a sought-after counselor to New York’s top elected officials, including, notably, Columbia’s revered faculty member Mayor David Dinkins. Armed with a deep knowledge of the city’s arcane bureaucracy and a sure grasp of New Yorkers’ daily challenges, you fought for the labor rights of three hundred thousand members of the Service Employees International Union, as its executive vice president and political director. Fellow Columbia College alumnus Barack Obama saw in you a person able to navigate the rough and tumble of politics with uncommon virtue and grace. He made you the national political director of his historic 2008 presidential campaign and then director of the White House Office of Political Affairs. Later, he would appoint you ambassador to South Africa. President Obama said simply in recommending you for this honor, “Thanks to Patrick’s service, America is a stronger and more respected nation.” Today, you continue to lead as president of the Open Society Foundations. It is a fitting place to find you: working to bring freedom, democracy, and justice to people around the world. What has driven you to do more of what must be done and to do it better, always? The answer, no doubt, can be found in your festive heart. For inspiring us, through your example, to fight injustice and strive for equality, Columbia is proud to welcome you back to campus and to present you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Thelma Golden
Your life’s work has redefined our understanding of the power of art to transform society, while reminding us of the essential truth that the artistic spirit knows no bounds. Born and raised in Queens, you were drawn to the New York Times’ s Arts section and the city’s museums and galleries, landing an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before attending Smith College. Confronted with undergraduate curricula in both art history and African-American studies that made no mention of black artists, you had found your calling. This absence was a failure that must not stand, and you would be involved in correcting it. At the Whitney Museum of American Art, you helped produce the revolutionary 1993 Biennial and curated the groundbreaking exhibit Black Male, which examined destructive and persistent stereotypes about African-American masculinity. As chief curator, then director, of the Studio Museum in Harlem, you cemented the museum’s position as a powerhouse institution, bringing art from the African diaspora to audiences in New York and beyond. Under your leadership, the museum blossomed into a global forum and a place of pride for the neighborhood. Your greatest legacy may be the generations of curators you have mentored and the long list of artists whose creativity received its first, meaningful public viewing at the Studio Museum. This year, the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary by breaking ground on a spectacular new building by architect David Adjaye that will serve as a fitting tribute to an indispensable institution and its fearless director. Your mentor James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” You confronted an art world severely diminished by its willful narrowness and succeeded in celebrating neglected but essential perspectives and placing them in the foreground of our awareness. For your intellect, your courage, and your determination to face and change the world, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Lynn Sykes
The field you helped pioneer—plate tectonics—has greatly influenced the natural sciences and, with it, our understanding of climate change, the shifting seas, and the evolution of the human race. Through your decades of teaching and research in seismology, Professor Lynn R. Sykes, you have vastly expanded our understanding of the physical world and reshaped the direction of scientific inquiry in your field. As a child in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you became intensely interested in the mysteries of the earth’s makeup, and then followed this precocious fascination to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where you earned degrees in geology and geophysics, and then here to Columbia, earning your Ph.D. in geology in 1965. Your achievements at the University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and as Columbia’s Higgins Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences have been widely recognized with fellowships and awards from institutions including the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Seismological Society, and the American Geophysical Union. Columbia awarded you its G. Unger Vetlesen Prize in 2000. Over your career, your scientific prowess has been informed and elevated by a great love of humanity. You have described the abolition of nuclear arms as “the major issue of my lifetime” and have worked tirelessly to end nuclear weapons testing and to eliminate the possibility of nuclear war. You were early to this human rights cause, grounding your advocacy in rigorous science and hard facts. Your leadership was instrumental in turning Lamont-Doherty into one of the world’s most trusted centers of technical expertise for informing the development of test ban treaties and gaining their public acceptance. Professor Sykes, we are indebted to you not only for the many ways your scholarship has helped reveal the earth’s secrets, but also for your commitment to safeguarding us against humanity’s most dangerous impulses. Columbia is therefore proud to call you one of its own and to honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Shazi Visram
Your remarkable life story is a testament to Nelson Mandela’s insight that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Your immigrant parents—a Pakistani mother trained as a physician and a Tanzanian father—settled in Alabama after a stop in Toronto and became motel proprietors. They taught you that hard work, talent, and persistence were the only assets required to pursue your dreams, a lesson you have brought to life in ways they could have scarcely imagined. Indeed, as founder of Happy Family, an organic food empire that has revolutionized access to healthy food for children, you are an example of a civic-minded entrepreneur that now serves as an inspiration to countless young people who seek to emulate your success. After studying visual arts and history as an undergraduate at Columbia College, you enrolled at Columbia Business School, intrigued by the notion that you could put your creativity to use by starting your own business, perhaps one that would make a difference in people’s lives. A conversation with a friend seeking healthy food options for her twin infants sparked your imagination, and you were on your way. One great idea—making organic children’s food available on demand by putting it in a pouch—combined with your considerable talent for innovation, turned your company, Happy Family, into a global success story. By forgoing venture capital to finance your business, and instead seeking investors from among the very people who would be your customers, you ensured that Happy Family would retain its mission-driven focus. Partnerships forged with UNICEF and other child advocacy organizations attest to the wisdom of this approach and have placed you at the center of worldwide efforts to end child hunger. For your gifts as a leader, your optimistic spirit, and your determination to change the world for the better, Columbia is proud to call you one of our own and to honor you with the University Medal for Excellence.


Julia Bacha
How does a Brazilian-born woman who attended Columbia University in the City of New York find her calling in the Middle East? How does a student who set out to study English and was interested in journalism become a groundbreaking documentary filmmaker? The answers to those mysteries lie in the personal motivation and creative spirit that brought you to where you are today. The writer Tim O’Brien has asserted, “Storytelling is the essential human activity; the harder the situation, the more essential it is.” Perhaps in those words we glimpse some of the impetus behind your compelling work and the attraction of the particular stories you have chosen to tell. The appeal of a liberal arts education led you to Columbia and the School of General Studies, and from that new vantage point you discovered an affinity with Middle Eastern history that would change the course of your life. Cairo was where your journey led next, to work on Control Room, a documentary film providing an incisive look at media bias and press freedoms through the lens of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That experience demonstrated to you the power of film to reach audiences around the world and convinced you to devote yourself to the craft. You gravitate toward the suffering of people who have been ignored and alarming events that have been overlooked. Your documentaries on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict upended the received narrative of that struggle by bringing us in contact with individuals who chose the path of nonviolence to affect change. Encounter Point examines families in the region who have decided to seek peace across religious, political, and cultural divides after surmounting the grief and anger caused by violence and loss. Budrus tells the story of a Palestinian village that saved itself from destruction through nonviolent resistance. My Neighbourhood follows a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem who was joined by Israeli supporters in peaceful protest to resist Israeli seizure of his home. There has been no shortage of acclaim for these films. From the more than thirty film festival awards to the Guggenheim Fellowship you earned in 2015 for a project exploring the experience of female leaders of the First Intifada, recognition for your unconventional and penetrating films has been widespread. Indeed, your work has been exhibited at the Sundance, Berlin, and Tribeca Film Festivals, broadcast on television networks around the world, and screened for Palestinian refugees living in camps and members of the United States Congress alike. Your documentaries shed light on the world’s most intractable conflicts by exploring the boundaries of what the human spirit can achieve in the face of despair and division. For the remarkable stories at once life-affirming and unsentimental that you already have given us, and for all that we know you will create in the future, we are filled with great pride and the utmost admiration in presenting you with the University Medal for Excellence.
Martin Duberman
You are a rare and true scholar of reform. The interplay of rigorous analysis and courageous activism defining your clarion career calls to mind Emma Goldman’s observation that “revolution is but thought carried into action.” Indeed, few contemporary scholars have better understood the role of the intellectual in forging social progress. Your body of work—prodigious and befitting a scholar coming onto the scene at a young age and with precocious talents—is testimony to the power of fusing together these identities: Your political plays exploring the devastating personal impact of repression, among them In White America, winner of the Vernon Rice/Drama Desk Award, and Visions of Kerouac. Your candid nonfiction demanding that society reckon with the harsh cost of insisting that gays, lesbians, and other minorities operate neatly within establishment boundaries if they are to access power. And your breakthrough biographies of brilliant outsiders James Russell Lowell, Howard Zinn, Paul Robeson, and Lincoln Kirstein, each of them a complex individual resisting classification, yet all of them possessing, as you do, a restless creativity and strong convictions. In your experience, action always followed insight, because for you there was no alternative. From a major role in the Gay Academic Union, the first group dedicated to establishing gay and lesbian studies as an academic genre, to serving as founding director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, your outspoken advocacy was a beacon of dignity and courage when too many queer academics rightfully feared being open about their sexuality. And while the movement you helped create came to achieve unthinkable levels of social acceptance in the decades following the Stonewall riots, such that it now often moves forward with moderation supplanting radicalism, you have never abandoned the principles driving you to dismantle systemic oppression and discrimination. You paid a price for coming of age when science and society viewed deviations from sexual norms as an illness, experiencing a distinctly suffocating form of oppression policed by sentinels both internal and external. Your forthright memoirs—Midlife Queer: Autobiography of a Decade and, more recently, Waiting to Land: A (Mostly) Political Memoir, 1985–2008—reveal your strong belief that self-acceptance, wherever it may lead, is essential to individual fulfillment. By sharing your struggle to embrace your own identity, you provided a courageous and inspiring example others could follow. For occupying the front ranks of society’s inexorable march toward equality and freedom without ever straying from the path, and for doing so with the high intellectual rigor and eloquence needed to light the way, Columbia takes great pride in presenting you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
João Gilberto
Countless are those whose lives have been changed by your music over the past half century, and countless more will thrill and delight to your songs in decades to come. In a world of news cycles collapsed to mere minutes and the latest cultural phenomena forgotten as quickly as they arise, your artistry is of a different order: at once popular and avant-garde, of the moment and ageless, Brazilian and global, and, indisputably, of a rare quality that will stand the test of time. Listeners all around the world rejoice at the opening chn-chn-chn of “Doralice” and your ethereal singing in “Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer).” You are Brazil’s beloved global ambassador of musical culture. After moving from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro as a teenager, you succeeded in conjuring up a new sound able to communicate Brazil’s special flair like no other, a sound improbably invented in friends’ tiled bathrooms serving as acoustic laboratories. Soon, young musicians around Brazil were swapping your recordings and imitating your beats. Your first album, Chega de Saudade, would reach the radio stations of the United States and popularize this bossa nova, or new style. In 1964, we heard for the first time “The Girl from Ipanema,” a shimmering postcard describing a fresh vision of your home country for the world. The following year, Getz/Gilberto became the first jazz record to win the Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year. And decades later, you would be recognized with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for making music of exceptional quality and historical significance. You introduced to the world the rhythms of contemporary Brazilian jazz, inspiring not only musicians and musicologists but legions of admirers of Brazilian culture, including many here at Columbia. We celebrate through your achievements the rich ties of Columbia University to Brazil, dating back at least to 1906 and the University’s award of a different honorary degree to your countryman Joaquim Nabuco, the abolitionist and diplomat who established Brazil’s first embassy in America. Today, that enduring relationship is being energized and reinvented by the Columbia Global Center in Rio de Janeiro. For creating bossa nova, or your melodic voice able to convey quiet optimism and a love of life, for songs as deeply evocative as they are instantly recognizable, and for uniting people the world over through your music, we are proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa.
Jacques Pépin
For democratizing the art of great cooking and revolutionizing the modern American kitchen, you stand as one of our few, genuine culinary icons. Yet long before you were a trailblazing master chef, you were a child of World War II France. On a farm in Foissiat, a somber six-year-old boy, who had been separated from his family, milked a cow for the first time. When he tasted the sweet, frothy fruits of his labor, his spirits lifted and he gained access to an insight that would change his life forever: food is more than sustenance; it offers a path to a life well lived. You began learning then that food holds the power to fascinate and confound us, at once one of life’s basic necessities and among its greatest extravagances. Cooking would become your passion, your vocation, your livelihood, and your art. You began working as a child in your parents’ restaurant under the watchful eye of your mother, a canny businesswoman who introduced you to the discipline and the delight of life in the kitchen. You went on to apprentice in famed Parisian restaurants, distinguishing yourself as an instinctive and tireless cook with an inquisitive mind and a talent for swiftly absorbing new skills. You eventually became personal chef to three heads of state, including President Charles de Gaulle. Your wanderlust brought you to New York City and, initially, to the historic restaurant Le Pavillon. A year before your fortieth birthday, a car accident left you unable to shoulder the physical demands of working in a restaurant and required that you embark on a new direction, a testament to your resilience and your commitment. Very quickly you became a transformative teacher dedicated to providing every home cook with the tools to experience the life-affirming joy of a simple meal well prepared. Twenty-eight cookbooks and 13 public television series brought your singular approach to the craft of gastronomy into homes across the country, joining the ranks of pioneering figures like Julia Child and Pierre Franey who made the French culinary arts accessible to American audiences. These accomplishments become all the more impressive when considered alongside your long-standing intellectual curiosity and your academic achievements. Speaking little English, you arrived at Columbia University and the School of General Studies almost six decades ago, displaying an admirable thirst for education. Your subsequent transformation into a scholar of Molière and Voltaire who acquired a B.A. and an M.A. in French literature was nothing short of extraordinary. The great 16th-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote, “There is . . . no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well.” You discovered early on that purpose and fulfillment were to be found in hard work, intellectual curiosity, and the enjoyment of a great meal with great friends. For your industry, your generosity, and your example of what it means to live life well, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Padma Desai
What are the qualities that make it possible for a scholarly life to leave an indelible mark on our store of knowledge and on society’s welfare? In this era, they certainly include an enthusiasm for working across traditional academic disciplines; a belief in the responsibility of world-class scholarship to helpfully address the world’s problems; and an understanding that true academic excellence requires engagement with different cultures, ideologies, political settings, and people. Or, one could simply say: the qualities personified by Professor Padma Desai. Your seminal research on emerging markets and comparative economic systems, applied masterfully to Russia’s transition from communism, offers insights that will loom ever larger as such research becomes more difficult to pursue in an increasingly homogenous global economy. A consistent hallmark of your work is an eye for the detail able to reveal the shortcomings of a promising theory’s practical application and your determination to dig more deeply into those difficult questions. Your disciplined academic approach and passion for the intricacies of economic policymaking, combined with a persistent focus on real-world effects, made you a partner sought after by the world’s most respected policy institutions, from the Brookings Institution and the National Science Foundation to the United Nations and the Ford Foundation. Out of your painstaking examination of arcane subjects such as weather patterns and grain yields in the Soviet Union emerged a proposed economic plan for the postcommunist Soviet state. Your early work would also play a guiding role in India’s journey toward a more market-based economy. More recently you provided a sweeping and authoritative analysis of the 2008 global financial crisis. In every instance, your intellectual inquiry was elevated by a keen appreciation for the full range of incentives driving the decision makers responsible for stewarding national economies. We thank you, as well, for applying your eloquence and wisdom to your own remarkable past in Breaking Out: An Indian Woman’s American Journey, and From England with Love: An Indian Student Writes from Cambridge, a moving homage to your trailblazing father and the legacy you carry on. The generosity of spirit you have shown in creating these two beautifully rendered and deeply revealing memoirs is a gift greatly appreciated by so many here at Columbia and around the world. A beloved colleague among the Columbia faculty and director of the Center for Transition Economies, you exhibited an unwavering commitment to Columbia students by teaching the College’s introductory economics seminar, making certain that you came in contact with the largest possible number of our undergraduate students. Fyodor Dostoyevsky explained that humanity is a mystery: “If you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time.” For serving us in the noble pursuit of puzzling life’s mysteries, as a legendary economist, global policymaker, Columbia scholar and teacher, and eloquent author, we award you, with utmost admiration and respect, the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Eric Holder, Jr.
Over a history-making career of service to our nation and the cause of social justice, you have embodied Robert F. Kennedy’s admonition delivered in a speech to a University of Cape Town audience in 1966: “The enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be [our] supreme goal and abiding practice.” This pursuit has, indeed, been your abiding practice, from your activist student days at Columbia, to your service as one of the nation’s most outstanding attorneys general, to your continuing efforts as a private citizen today. After a career in Washington battling corruption as a prosecutor in the public integrity section of the Justice Department, you served as a judge exposed directly to the injustice wreaked by mandatory sentencing laws and also as United States Attorney for the nation’s capital. The moral clarity with which you perceived systemic inequities was preamble to seven years as a different sort of United States Attorney General than the nation had ever seen: hate crimes prosecuted with as much vigor as high-profile terrorism cases; a tough-minded effort to reform our criminal justice system by overhauling sentencing policies and investigating corrupt police departments; and a Justice Department bully pulpit used to rebuff the recurrence of the civic cancer posed by discriminatory voting restrictions. Against forceful opposition, you were a national leader on voting rights, declaring that “no force has proved more powerful—or more integral to the success of the great American experiment—than efforts to expand the franchise.” You also declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and had government lawyers stand down from defending it, helping to pave the way for the landmark Supreme Court decisions that would come, guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry. We looked on with great attentiveness and no small amount of pride, as you, an alumnus of Columbia College and the Law School by way of the Bronx and Queens, shouldered with enormous grace the responsibility of the high office you were named to by a fellow Columbian. Unfailingly, you made decisions informed by a manifest awareness of the history of the department you led and of the nation, as well as the sacrifices of earlier generations of brave Americans who contributed to aligning the nation more closely with its highest ideals. You are a public servant of rare principle and uncommon integrity. For your courage, your grit, your wit, and your selfless choice to labor at the center of the public arena where you battled to protect the liberty and security of every American citizen, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Admiral Michael Mullen
The Navy’s core values of “honor, courage, and commitment” perfectly describe a career—and a life—of service to our nation. Your piercing observation that “don’t ask, don’t tell” directed “young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens” will long be remembered for paving the way for the repeal of a policy that was beneath America’s values and its dignity. Through this honest, courageous, and principled reflection, you provided, not for the first time, an indelible example of leadership of the very highest caliber. What experience produces such a leader? Yours has been, in some respects, counterintuitive. Born to parents who worked amidst the glamour and spectacle of Hollywood, you never planned for a life in the military, deciding to travel east to Annapolis only after the Naval Academy offered a scholarship. After graduation and a tour of duty in Vietnam during one of that war’s bloodiest stretches, you felt compelled to wrestle with the impact of this controversial war on a divided nation. Eventually, you would come to distill your own lessons from that period. You made use of this formative experience over the course of a more than four-decade military career, distinguishing yourself as an astute strategist focused upon America’s role in the world, the proper balance of hard and soft power, and the connection between financial stability and national security. A steady ascent through the ranks culminated in your exemplary service for two presidents of different parties as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During this time, you oversaw the end of the combat mission in Iraq and the development of a new military strategy in Afghanistan. You are admired across the military as a man of quiet candor, deeply committed to the welfare and reputation of the armed services and never without the time to talk to active service members and veterans about their personal struggles. We are fortunate, at Columbia, to have heard your experienced voice and wise counsel firsthand, as your partner in finally disposing of a half-century-old rift between higher education and the military over the presence of ROTC on university campuses. The historic rapprochement you helped to achieve led directly to the reinstatement on our campus of the Naval ROTC, a long overdue development in harmony with Columbia’s thriving community of student veterans and reservists. In this and other matters, you have urged the nation to bridge the divide between military and civilian society, reminding us that mutual respect between the two is a source of America’s strength. St. Francis of Assisi counseled that our lives on earth gain their meaning from “honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.” It is the rare individual whose life is devoted to serving others, and rarer still to find such a public servant with the integrity and fortitude needed to call us to our highest ideals. You are such a person. For your service, your love, your sacrifice, and your courage, Columbia is proud to welcome you back to our campus and present you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Allen Hyman
Your outsized professional achievements in the fields of anesthesiology and critical neonatal care are matched in equal—which is to say quite extraordinary—measure by your devoted service to Columbia University; it therefore is with special pride and affection that we bestow upon you this honorary degree. Though meaningful advances in patient outcomes are often measured incrementally, your stewardship of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit, as its founding director, was transformative, reversing a devastating inherited mortality rate among premature newborns suffering from respiratory distress syndrome. In ten years’ time, a 90 percent mortality rate became a 90 percent survival rate, thanks to your introduction of innovative ventilation treatment that revolutionized care for these infants. Later, there was a role for you in Columbia-Presbyterian’s senior administration. In typical fashion, your imprint was extensive; you were as comfortable helping to secure the hospital’s financial future as you were expanding health care in the local neighborhood. Like so many students and future scholars who made the mid-20th-century journey from Brooklyn to Morningside Heights, you flourished upon encountering the broad horizons of Columbia College in 1951. Though the signs of a future career in medicine were already evident, you spent your undergraduate years as a liberal arts student in the classic tradition, majoring in philosophy as well as chemistry. What better preparation for managing the existential questions raised by a career devoted to critical neonatal care than by confronting the mysteries of our humanity in history classes taught by James Shenton and Jacques Barzun, or learning poetry from Mark Van Doren, or theater from Archibald MacLeish? Always, your responsibilities as a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons provided a source of special satisfaction. Your dedication to P&S was reflected not only in your generous decision to endow a professorship in your field and bearing your name, but also in your embrace of the decidedly unglamorous but essential policymaking that occurs in the University Senate. Pain is an unwelcome presence in every patient’s battle against sickness and disease. And while concerns about pain are never far from the consciousness of any physician, it is the anesthesiologist who is uniquely responsible for navigating with the patient the most harrowing passages of an often uncertain journey toward recovery, cure, and restored health. In this we think of you, Professor Hyman, as our Virgil, guiding Dante from darkness into light, for “you did as he who goes by night and carries the lamp behind him.” For not only illuminating a path for countless patients but also elevating the field of neonatal anesthesiology and vastly enriching this University and its Medical Center, we present to you with great pride and our utmost admiration the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


Arthur Mitchell
That you rose to become one of the most celebrated figures in American ballet is a remarkable feat. That you did so within an artistic culture that at the time was marred by racial stereotyping and embedded prejudice defies expectations. For while talent and determination can produce a great artist, it takes still more to become a transformative figure. You have been just such a figure in the world of dance and beyond. Born in 1930s Harlem and faced with the need to begin supporting your family at age 12, your irrepressible talent would demand its place in your life. You danced with the School of American Ballet and later the New York City Ballet, where you performed an iconic and barrier-shattering interracial pas de deux with Diana Adams in Agon. These formative years contained both the pain inflicted by unvarnished racial prejudice and crushing insults and the great gift of learning from the masters George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Your fortitude and your faith in the power of art have meant so much, to so many. The groundbreaking performances you gave were full of personal courage and artistic innovation and succeeded in exploding the myth that African American bodies were unsuitable for classical dance. And your determination to co-found the Dance Theatre of Harlem in the wake of the loss of Martin Luther King Jr. stood then and stands today as an eloquent call to fulfill the slain leader's dream. In the new artistic space you created, the color of a child's skin would neither limit her horizons nor provoke the type of indignities you had suffered. Through your vision, work ethic, and the example provided by your art, you ultimately triumphed in throwing over rigid custom. Dance Theatre of Harlem proved that the classical art of ballet, created in the palaces of Renaissance Europe, would thrive amidst the grace and flair of Upper Manhattan. Columbia takes great pride in being home to your archives, which tell the story of a life's work inseparable from the culture and history of Harlem. By altering the face of dance, you have shown us the special power of the artistic endeavor: a sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt tool for pushing past boundaries and preconceived ideas of people and life. For your artistic genius and your remarkable resolve to overcome barriers, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.


Robert Owen Paxton
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his Nobel Lecture, asserted that "one word of truth shall outweigh the whole world," a claim aptly characterizing your potent scholarship. Modern society, with its plethora of wrenching conflict, frequently calls on the historian to reconcile us with our past. Yet few examples more starkly reveal the power of exacting scholarship to shift the understanding of individuals, and indeed entire nations, than does your reevaluation of the German occupation of France during World War II. As a young man, your devotion to comprehending and explaining the past in all its harrowing complexity helped you develop unerring vision, and led you to Germany and an extended journey through archives describing the recent past. There you confronted the distressing truth that Marshal Henri Philippe Petain's Vichy government was not a passive tool of Nazi rule but a collaborationist regime complicit in discrimination against, and the deportation and murder of, tens of thousands of Jews. Fierce, if predictable, opposition across French society threatened to impede a fair reading of your findings and their ultimate acceptance. You persisted, confident that pursuit of an essential truth about who we are would eventually prevail over political calculation and national pride. In time, your analysis became accepted fact, certified by President Jacques Chirac's admission of French complicity with the Third Reich in a landmark speech in 1995. You pressed forward with the controversial decision to testify at the trials of former Vichy officials. In doing so, you challenged accepted notions of the relationship between historian and history to supply context and nuance to France's effort to reckon with its past. For these efforts, you have been called part of the conscience of France, a distinction accompanied by prestigious awards, including the Légion d’honneur, the Ordre national du Mérite, and the rank of commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Columbia has been honored to be your intellectual and professional home since 1969. Admired by colleagues for being a scholar of quiet yet powerful conviction, you inspired the careers of generations of students who saw in you an example of the transformative potential of the historian's craft. Your principled scholarship conducted over more than five decades shattered long-standing myths about French collaboration, recast our understanding of this seminal period in history, and elevated you to the stature of a historical figure in your own right. For marshalling your talent, your determination, and your moral compass to reveal a hidden truth that certainly did remake the world, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Susan Meiselas
The writer Samuel Johnson contended that "curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last." It is a sentiment perfectly capturing the twists, the turns, the audacity, and the genius that have given shape and meaning to your inimitable career as a photographer. For more than forty years, you have placed your trust in serendipity and personal freedom, following your artistic impulse to encounters with esoteric subjects, remote places, unexamined human experience, and events shaping the course of history. Committed to understanding and explaining the world on your own terms, you discovered a distinctive place for meeting the subjects of your photography, allowing you to produce unforgettable images that contextualize and humanize. These pictures gain their stunning power not simply by telling the stories of those rarely heard, but by doing so honestly and respectfully. They are photographs that faithfully encompass a reality beyond the frame and allow your subjects to speak for themselves, free from judgment and misinterpretation. You have always acknowledged the good fortune of being raised by parents who encouraged your imagination and your independence. Inspired by your graduate studies at Harvard, you chose the camera as your tool for exploring the world and embarked on an unconventional path that led you to New England’s traveling carnivals, encounters with strippers whom you ad mired for their strength and grit, and Nicaragua a t the dawn of the Sandinista Revolution, where you succeeded in showing the world the mix of hope and violence in that war-torn nation. For your accomplishments, you were awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. You continued to be drawn to subterranean injustices, which you sought to document and, through the testimony of your camera, combat. To Kurdistan you went, where you created a visual history of a resilient people still grappling with the trauma of attempted genocide. It is the rare artist who chooses subjects based on personal fascination and then infuses their portrayal with a profound humanity. Always your work is driven by a searching intellect and larger purpose. For your open mind, generous spirit, and a life lived in celebration of the value of curiosity, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Ban Ki-Moon
Since its founding more than 70 years ago, the United Nations has had as a central purpose, "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." Yet only during your near-decade at the helm of the United Nations has the opportunity signaled by this goal become fully visible and the need to embrace it become so urgent. You have faced a formidable task and shouldered the burden admirably. Climate change, infectious disease, poverty, terrorism, refugee migration, violence against women, and financial instability. It is a roll call of 21st-century problems resistant to remedies engineered by any single nation, yet occurring at a moment when the prospect of reliable global cooperation, though closer at hand than ever before, often remains out of reach. Never have the words uttered by Trygve Lie, the UN's first Secretary-General, upon his passing of the torch to his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, been more apt: "You are about to take over the most impossible job on earth." Perhaps your foremost asset in meeting this challenge is a personal history that exposed you, at a young age, first to the horror of modern warfare and then to the triumph of national rebirth supported by the international community. The travails of your childhood in Japanese-occupied Korea were surely on your mind as you stood among a group of young international Red Cross delegates on the White House lawn and heard President Kennedy say that collectively you personified the "hopes we can have for the future." It was a pivotal moment for an 18-year-old, setting you on course to become a diplomat, policy advisor, foreign minister, and, ultimately, only the eighth person to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this role, you have been determined to see progress on intractable, long-term challenges while remaining attuned to the exigencies and opportunities of the everyday. Responding to past United Nations' efforts to promote gender equality that were undermined by inadequate funding and the absence of a clear mission, you established UN Women, a new entity with the resources and governing mandate to bring an end to the pervasive gender violence and discrimination so shocking to the conscience of society. And just last month, at United Nations Headquarters, you presided over a ceremony that saw 175 world leaders sign the Paris Agreement for global action on climate change – the largest number of nations ever to sign an international accord on a single day. For a lifetime of selfless public service firmly grounded in President Kennedy's exhortation that "we are one human family and this one planet is our home," we are proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Robert Darnton
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison once explained that "access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations." In this modern era of academic specialization, the role of broad-minded thinkers committed to the pursuit of new knowledge for its most elemental value has become all the more rare and all the more necessary. And you have been among our greatest champions in this cause. Though you attended Andover on a scholarship, graduated from Harvard magna cum laude, and were awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford where you studied for your Ph.D., the full flower of your academic career would have to wait until you first completed a stint as a crime reporter, attracted to journalism in part by your father Byron's career as a celebrated war correspondent for The New York Times. When, in your spare time in the reporters' bullpen at police headquarters, you found yourself more interested in reading Burckhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy than the day's police blotter, it was time to return for good to higher education. History was your true calling, and you found your home at Princeton University, where you were a member of the faculty for almost forty years and became the foremost historian of learning's main repository: the book. Your leadership in this field has spanned the dawn of the Internet age and come at a portentous moment for teaching and learning. The post of University Librarian at Harvard, home to the largest private library system in the world, has always carried special responsibilities. But only during your tenure did it involve, for example, issuing a warning about the dangers of commercializing information in response to Google's proposal to own the world's books. Your efforts to navigate the impact of the digital age on both the existing storehouse of knowledge and new research findings led to the creation of the Digital Public Library of America, accessible to people in almost every country on earth. You also championed Harvard’s creation of an open access digital repository for peer-reviewed literature, helping to revolutionize the way academics share their work. Who would expect that this devotee of the digital frontier was once a young scholar who took such pleasure in traveling to Switzerland and France for the opportunity to physically sift through rich source material –thousands upon thousands of documents describing the lives and times of established printers and publishers, as well as the shadier world of smugglers, rebels, and profligates who traded in the written word. No one has understood the unique learning made possible by the book more entirely, defended it more fiercely, or accomplished more to secure its future, than you. For preserving access to the knowledge on which civilization depends, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Zhu Chen
Your special talent for curing disease, alleviating suffering, and transforming lives should not be allowed to obscure a different and essential feature of your remarkable life: an unusual ability to defy the odds in service of humanitarian goals. When the dictates of the Cultural Revolution prevented the completion of your medical studies, you embraced the work of a barefoot doctor, spending five years in the countryside caring for farmers and gaining new inspiration in the process. Given the opportunity to train at Shanghai Second Medical University, you demonstrated exceptional talent as a young hematologist and then found your way to Paris and the pursuit of a doctorate at Hôpital Saint-Louis at Université Paris Diderot. The barefoot doctor was on a path that would lead him to become China's Minister of Health from 2007 to 2013, overseeing the largest health system in the world, which since 1949 has witnessed the average life expectancy of the Chinese people rise from 35 to 75 years, an astonishing advance due in large part to the tireless work of women and men like you. During your time in France, you immersed yourself in a new field, molecular biology, and then carried that learning home with you where you focused your attention on the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia, a particularly lethal cancer without a known cure. Through an imaginative blending of Chinese and Western medical traditions, you were able to pioneer a new combination therapy that would save countless lives. Indeed, a cancer that once often resulted in death within a month of diagnosis now has remission rates of 90 percent, an outcome made possible by your creativity and determination. Your contributions have been widely recognized, including by La Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer, which for the first time bestowed its highest award, the Prix de I'Oise, upon a non-French recipient. It gives us great pleasure, in adding to your honors with this degree, to be reminded of beloved Columbia alumnus and cardiologist, the late Clyde Wu, whose dedication to furthering innovative clinical research knew no bounds and whose fellowship you once held here. According to Hippocrates, "Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity." You have embodied this precept through a combination of brilliant scholarship, groundbreaking research, public leadership, and, most of all, an unwavering personal dedication to serving humanity. Columbia is therefore proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Tracy K Smith
Natasha Trethewey, a treasured Poet Laureate of the United States and recent Columbia honorary degree recipient, describes poetry as a "sacred language that allows us to connect across time and space, across all the things in everyday life that separate us and would destroy us." You, Tracy K. Smith, have learned this sacred language and now speak it in your own distinctive voice. Over and over, you demonstrate the gift of being able to connect the intimacy of love and acceptance, yearning and absence, with the infinity of our fragile human lives. Each of your three collections is a standout: The Body's Question, your 2003 debut and winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Duende, which four years later earned the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and then Life on Mars, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume described in another citation from this University as a "collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain." In your most recent work, Ordinary Light, you reveal the ability to extend this lyrical power beyond verse to produce a penetrating memoir of family and adolescence. Your special talent germinated in youthful experimentation aided by an early vintage Mac computer, which served as the vehicle for your word play, elaborate enjambments, and fledgling attempts at distilling the experience of a moment. You would hone your skill at the Dark Room Collective, a groundbreaking workshop you joined while an undergraduate at Harvard. Here at Columbia, you pushed yourself further, earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and gaining experience and wisdom from a different creative community enthralled by poetry's special alchemy. It is no wonder that words you heard years later in a simple song sung at your daughter's preschool—“when we tell our stories, we make power”—carry a special resonance for you. Now your students at Princeton have the great fortune to have you as their guide in telling their stories and finding their power. Your leadership of that university's creative writing program is driven by a commitment to the type of embracing community you found in Cambridge and then New York. Colleagues on the Princeton faculty join with your students in expressing their admiration for your insight, empathy, and enthusiasm—the very same qualities that have garnered praise for your work from the Academy of American Poets, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. For speaking the sacred language of poetry so beautifully, so powerfully, and so truthfully, we are enormously proud to welcome you back to Columbia and to present you with the University Medal for Excellence.
Amanda M Burden
It is fitting that we honor you at a moment when so many in New York City and beyond have turned their attention to the viral role of urban planning in modern society on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Jane Jacobs's birth. Jacobs appreciated the art no less than the science of the calling you share, describing the cityscape as "an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other." Given the opportunity by Mayor Bloomberg to choreograph Gotham's ballet to a 21st-century score, you grabbed hold of the responsibility with both hands, leaving a mark on the city that has already become and will forever remain a part of its narrative. The chapter bearing your name tells of a modern renaissance. On the Brooklyn waterfront, the abandoned rubble of forgotten industrial piers became a sleek public park where families now sprawl on clipped grass, one of many welcome greenspaces of all shapes and sizes that have proliferated across the five boroughs. On a once­derelict railway line on the West Side of Manhattan, children dance amidst landscaped bushes and flowers as music plays. Across the city, newcomers nest in rezoned developments with plazas, pocket parks, and ready access to public transit. The city stretched to use neglected but invaluable parts of its urban domain, becoming more sustainable even as it expanded, and through this ambitious balancing act and your enthusiasm for innovation, you provided leadership to colleagues in cities around the world. The planning effort you led as the New York City Planning Commissioner was the largest in sixty years, rejuvenating thousands of blocks across 124 different New York City neighborhoods. Your rigorous attention to detail, from the placement of benches to concern about unintended consequences affecting shopkeepers, became a source of authority and respect in the contentious world of New York development. Your training at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, in combination with the opportunity to learn from William H. Whyte and other masters of the craft, made you ideally suited for this role. Columbia University in the City of New York has for more than 260 years understood that our fate is inextricably bound to the fortunes of this metropolis, the greatest the world has ever seen. We have, over that time, proudly contributed a mix of new knowledge and public service to help our home city prosper. It is therefore a special privilege through this honorary degree to recognize you as a worthy addition to the roll call of Columbians who planned New York's street grid, subway system, and much more. With pride, we welcome you back to Columbia and honor you with a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


Anthony S Fauci
The noble profession of medicine calls some to serve as attending physicians, others to search for cures for disease, a smaller number to administer the complex, modern-day institutional apparatus so essential to public health, and only a rare few to communicate effectively to the general public what is at stake in all of these efforts. The notion that a single individual could embody the highest standard of excellence in each discrete capacity simply strains credulity. Yet that is precisely what you have accomplished in your unparalleled career. What accounts for this all-encompassing embrace of the art and science of healing? Perhaps the answer lies in those long-ago, boyhood bicycle tours of your hometown Brooklyn that found you delivering prescriptions for your father, a Columbia-trained pharmacist known as “Doc.” There may never have been a childhood chore that more powerfully communicated Hippocrates’s creed: “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” In the earliest, frightening days of our nation’s battle with the human immunodeficiency virus, you were at the forefront, working with both urgency and brilliance to meet a heartbreaking public health challenge that was, at the time, beyond the reach of the medical establishment. Driven by the suffering you encountered in our communities of gay men, you pioneered the field of human immunoregulation, conducting research that explained the mechanisms by which HIV disables the body’s defenses. These many years later, we are on the cusp of a generation free of infection, a signal public health accomplishment for which you rightly deserve great credit. In 1984, you became director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and remain in that post today, a remarkable tenure that has defined the office. Several American presidents, starting with George H. W. Bush, sought to elevate you to director of the National Institutes of Health; you respectfully declined, choosing instead to remain where you could have the largest effect on treating and curing disease rather than opting for a new title. The revealing professional choice speaks volumes about your personal values that colleagues, patients, and the general public have long admired. From this platform, you have cared for individual patients and the American public in every manner possible, including managing responses to influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, and Ebola. You lead through example and action, making time virtually every day to visit patients, including those posing a health risk to their caregivers. You also have become one of our nation’s most trusted and widely recognized health educators, explaining to the public in accessible language medical threats and appropriate safeguards. For providing an unsurpassed example of the immense service that can be provided when dedication to public health, scientific mastery, and a deep love of humanity are embodied in a single individual, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Miloš Forman
he journey that carried you from a childhood in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to a career as one of the most celebrated and beloved filmmakers of the last half century calls to mind Albert Camus’s basic insight that “life is the sum of all your choices.” For while your choices were sometimes harrowing, they were also liberating, allowing you to touch countless lives through your cinematic art and your admired teaching at this University. Your determination to live life fully and freely, and the example it provides to others, may be the very greatest of your legacies. Born to parents who perished in the Second World War’s concentration camps, you endured that tragic loss and, later, the oppression of life in communist Prague by becoming immersed in the creation of improvisational movies that subverted the strictures of authoritarianism. Amidst the chaotic events of the Prague Spring in 1968, you immigrated to New York City, where the bracing openness and experimentation of that time and place more than compensated for the challenges you faced as a newcomer in an adopted home. That transformative period enabled a young filmmaker in a foreign metropolis to emerge just a few short years later as the Academy Award–winning director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a film that captured America’s 1970s zeitgeist and that remains today one of only three movies to win all five major Oscars. It was certainly more than happenstance that the movie’s urgent plea for self-determination carried a deep personal resonance. The works that followed showcased the quality and the breadth of your skills as a filmmaker. Hair and Ragtime chronicled the beauty and pain of life in America in the twentieth century. Equally compelling were films that told the stories of Mozart, Larry Flynt, and Andy Kaufman—iconoclastic and creative figures who lived lives dedicated to reimagining the boundaries of social expectation and artistic expression. Amadeus brought your second Academy Award in 1985, placing you on a short list of our most honored film directors. Less public, though no less profound, has been your influence on generations of budding filmmakers who have studied at Columbia’s School of the Arts film program and have been lucky enough to call you their mentor. Your former students—many of them now influential directors in their own right—have been enriched by your belief in the power of compelling characters and an intriguing story to embolden, to educate, and to humanize. Indeed, your contributions as a professor, department chair, and now professor emeritus have helped raise Columbia’s film program to international prominence. For providing a personal example and a body of artistic achievement that challenges us to think deeply about life’s possibilities and the choices that shape our paths, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
David Levering Lewis
To say that the quality of your historical scholarship is exceptional is doubly true, for it is both of the highest standard and different in kind, evincing an uncommon belief in the possibility of humanity’s betterment through experience and learning. For those who have imbibed the incisive yet gloomy wisdom of Aldous Huxley, who asserted, “that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach,” your body of work suggests a brighter horizon. How could it have been different for someone whose career appears to have been magically foretold by a childhood encounter with W. E. B. Du Bois? When the imposing man asked you, at age 12, about your plans for the future, little could he have known that you would dedicate 15 years of your academic life to producing his definitive biography, a two-volume examination of Du Bois’s searching and quintessentially American mind, with each of the books winning a Pulitzer Prize and numerous other accolades. For you, the study of history is a profoundly humanist endeavor. Born to parents who devoted their lives to education, you became a scholar of rare skill and rigor who was drawn to subjects that still resonate loudly today. From the towering figures of the civil rights movement of the 20th century, to the forces that drove the rise of Islam in the medieval period, to your analysis of the Dreyfus Affair, to your examination of the Harlem Renaissance, you have chosen to explore transformational people and events. Your mission has been to unearth insights about the complexities of the politics, ethnic imperatives, religions, and cultures that define the human experience and continue to guide the fates of peoples and empires. Columbia takes pride in its modest role setting your career in motion through the encouragement you received from our own Jacques Barzun when, as a young man, you sought his advice and expressed your interest in the study of history. Your professional choice has proved a wise one, many times over, resulting not only in rich and varied scholarship, but also in fellowships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and, in 2010, the presentation of the National Humanities Medal by President Obama at the White House. For bringing vividly to life the lessons of history, presenting them in all their fullness, and conveying the powerful resonance of the past to the events of our time, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Bill Campbell
If a great, diverse research university could have a single beating heart, Columbia’s would most assuredly be you. From the time you arrived on Morningside Heights from Western Pennsylvania nearly six decades ago, through your venerated term as chairman of our Board of Trustees, your dynamism, humor, and can-do spirit have energized everyone and everything around you. A graduate of the College and then Teachers College who, as an undersized offensive guard, captained Columbia’s storied 1961 Ivy League Champion football team, you returned to campus as head football coach more than a decade later during a period of institutional and financial challenge for the University. A proud Army veteran and a winner to your core, you were dissatisfied with your own performance and, despite the enduring admiration of the players whose lives you shaped, you chose to leave the sidelines to pursue a different path. After starting a new career as a vice president at J. Walter Thompson in New York and general manager of consumer products for Kodak Europe, you joined Apple in 1983. In addition to serving as executive vice president of Apple, Inc., and as a member of its board of directors for 17 years, you were also president and chief executive of GO Corporation, and founder, president, and chief executive of Claris Corporation. You went on to be president and chief executive of Intuit from 1994 to 2000 and have been chairman of the board of directors since 1998. Not captured by any organizational title or resume entry, you have been an admired leader and a trusted mentor to a generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives who have transformed our economy and society. As chairman of Columbia’s Board of Trustees for nine years, you helped support the University through a watershed period in its long history. Your service to and support for Columbia have been invaluable. A founder of the Columbia Alumni Association and a member of the advisory group of the Columbia Entrepreneurship Initiative, you have won virtually every prize Columbia can bestow on its alumni, including the Alexander Hamilton Medal, the John Jay Award, and the Alumni Athletics Award. In 2010, you and fellow members of the 1961 Ivy League Champion football team were inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame. You have been a director of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, which each year in your honor awards the William V. Campbell Trophy recognizing a student-athlete as “the absolute best in the country for his academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.” How apt, then, that an acclaimed and innovative work of architecture for Columbia Athletics will forever bear your name. For both your lion’s roar that can wake the echoes of the Hudson Valley and your softer voice that has had such an extraordinary impact on our University, our economy, and the many people for whom you will forever be “Coach,” Columbia is proud to confer on you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Theda Skocpol
any scholars are moved by the desire to advance a chosen academic discipline; some find inspiration in seeking to influence the world beyond the academy; and then there are those rare few who succeed extravagantly at both. You are, without question, an exemplar of this select group. A supremely gifted sociologist and political scientist, you have, through your prolific scholarly output of books, commentary, and research, influenced academic colleagues to reconsider their approach to studying people and politics while encouraging the broader public to look anew at issues of the highest civic concern. Your very first book, States and Social Revolutions, was described in an academic journal as a “remarkable” work that would help to “set the framework” for future scholarly debate—an achievement, the reviewer noted, to be expected as the capstone to a long academic career rather than as a debut. By assigning a heightened level of significance to state-level political structures and locating these considerations at the heart of your analysis of the French, Chinese, and Russian revolutions, you ushered in a new era of debate among sociologists and political scientists. You also led a similar transformation with your reappraisal of the role of women in American politics. Your wide-ranging set of interests, combined with an unwavering analytic acuity, established you at the forefront of your chosen fields of academic study for decades. Always, the linkage between your intellectual pursuits and society’s larger interests has been manifest. Your analyses of the successes and failures of health care reform and “cap and trade” legislation helped to illuminate the inner workings of the American political process. Your examination of the Tea Party’s rise in the age of the Obama presidency offered incisive commentary about a confounding political movement that manages to be simultaneously central to American political traditions and outside them. Yours is a body of scholarship that calls to mind a statement by philosopher Michel Foucault: “I don’t write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible.” For years, you have initiated conversations with your academic colleagues and students that raise issues too urgent to be dismissed and too consequential to be quickly resolved. Perhaps your greatest legacy is the vast amount of reflection and learning that has occurred beyond your own classrooms, among those many interested citizens engaged by your distinctive insights regarding society’s most pressing concerns. For brilliantly activating the discourse and debate that is the lifeblood of both higher education and representative democracy, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Albert Louis Sachs
Always you have been consumed with fighting injustice. The fight has known no bounds: a high calling that, over the course of your lifetime, has been as much your personal identity as your birthplace or name. You began, in earnest, as a newly minted 21-year-old lawyer at the Cape Bar, defending non-whites and political dissidents, many who faced the death penalty for resisting apartheid, thereby ensuring that you, also, would become a target of the apartheid state. This courageous choice would be costly and have repercussions lasting decades. Perhaps, though, there was never a different path for you: your father, Solly, a renowned South African labor leader, and your mother, Ray, an assistant to one of the heads of the African National Congress, were freedom fighters in their own right. You have employed every available tool to advance the cause of justice, from authoring seminal books, including Justice in South Africa, Sexism and the Law, and The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter; to serving as a public figure in exile representing the hopes and dreams of a new South Africa still yet to be created; to a leading role in the constitution-making essential to your nation’s rebirth; and ultimately to your appointment by President Nelson Mandela to South Africa’s new Constitutional Court, a body you helped to establish as one of the world’s most admired high courts. Also boundless have been your sacrifices: solitary confinement, interrogation at the hands of ruthless jailers, your father’s exile from South Africa as well as your own extended banishment from your native country, and the permanent physical scars of a vicious, state-sponsored assassination attempt. In your lifetime, you have known them all and succumbed to none. The source of this remarkable fortitude is plain to all who know you, found in your indomitable spirit and your understanding of something profound about the human condition. In National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Justice, a decision ending the criminalization of homosexuality, your concurring opinion trumpeted a constitutionally protected “right to be different” and urged us all to exhibit a “greater sensitivity to the variability of the human kind.” These words, so meaningful to so many, serve also as a coda for your life’s work. to be different” and urged us all to exhibit a “greater sensitivity to the variability of the human kind.” These words, so meaningful to so many, serve also as a coda for your life’s work. We are grateful that one of your final sojourns before your triumphant return to South Africa was a residency at Columbia Law School, where you participated in a seminar on post-apartheid constitutionalism and shaped forever the thinking of the many faculty and students fortunate to hear you talk about democracy and human rights. For a lifetime spent urging South African society and others around the world to replace bigotry’s base violence and hatred with a vision of humanity commensurate with our capacity for insight and love, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Andrea Elliott
Photojournalist Dorothea Lange said that “while there is perhaps a province in which [art] can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” In your still young career, you have elevated narrative journalism to an art form, telling the stories of people among us who live out of sight, until you place them with great compassion and generosity at the center of public conversation. An imam in Brooklyn. A homeless New York City girl. Combat veterans. After we meet them through your reporting, we grow all too aware of how little we previously have seen. These are unusually resonant acts of journalism that produce a large and lasting impact. Your passion for chronicling human experience has been a constant presence throughout your life. Studying literature at Occidental College, joining the student newspaper there, and then turning to documentary filmmaking, your boundless interest in penetrating life’s mysteries served you—and now society at large—very well. It comes as no surprise that you finished first in your class at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, an honor reflecting the perfect affinity you felt with your notebook and pen as you travelled about New York City as a student journalist, exploring and explaining your adopted home. While the subjects of your investigative reports for The New York Times range far afield, your point of view is consistent and ennobling. Your mission always has been to seek greater understanding rather than to memorialize a fleeting glimpse of violence or apparent failure. The finely etched portrait you drew of Sheik Reda Shata, a Brooklyn imam born in Egypt, goes beyond describing a leader struggling with the post–September 11 crosscurrents of American society to recount on the pages of a daily newspaper a timeless tale of tradition versus modernity. We proudly note the wisdom of the Pulitzer Board and Columbia University in honoring these articles with their coveted prize. Your series, “Invisible Child,” winner of the George Polk Award, manages to equal and perhaps exceed this lofty standard. In describing the daily travails of a homeless girl and her family, the articles demanded that our great city and the entire nation look squarely at lives lived in poverty during this era of great affluence. The reporting you have produced, so powerful for its empathy and grace, reminds us that journalism is strongest when it embraces humanity’s most humbling yet essential challenge: to better understand one another. For opening our eyes and permitting us to see, Columbia is proud to welcome you back to campus to receive the University Medal for Excellence.