Simply the Best
A Shining Light on   Broadway



Ric Burns '78
Ronald Mason Jr. '74
Victor Wouk '39
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Honored Voices: The 2000 John Jay Awards

On Tuesday, March 28, 2000, Columbia College honored five alumni - documentary filmmaker Ric Burns '78, attorney Martin S. Kaplan '61, cable television pioneer Robert M. Rosencrans '49, charitable foundation executive Stephen D. Solender '60, and investment banker George L. Van Amson '74 - with John Jay Awards for Distinguished Professional Achievement. Despite their different career paths, in accepting the award each of the honorees spoke of his years at the College as crucial to his future success. Following are brief excerpts from their remarks:

Ric Burns '78
As it has for so many others, the College came as a kind of revelation for me - a salvation, an inspiration, and a lifeboat. In retrospect, it is startling to grasp how badly I craved the structure it provided, how astonished I was by the intellectual and spiritual vistas it opened, how much it served not only as an educational resource but as a kind of surrogate family for me. Institutions like Columbia have an uncanny ability to take people who are unformed and still in many ways a pain in the neck and see in them the possibility of a future they could never have imagined for themselves.

Martin S. Kaplan '61
Like many of you, I came to Columbia for the intellectual challenge of its Core Curriculum, and the personal challenge of a diverse and vibrant New York City. The experience of both created a framework for my life. The Core raised a series of questions impossible to answer, described a set of issues exciting to explore, and provided a sense of direction toward intellectual fulfillment, alluring in its promise. Everything I have undertaken reflects a journey shaped by the Core, which has encouraged me to become more involved in society through civic, charitable and public service.

Robert J. Rosencrans '49
My own strongest recollections of the classroom were history with Dwight D. Miner, sociology with Bill Casey, and philosophy with Irwin Edman. Dwight Miner stimulated a lifelong love of history by virtue of his portrayals of Teddy Roosevelt in all his glory. Bill Casey made us think about the subtleties and ironies of democratic and despotic societies, and Irwin Edman was brilliant but often difficult for those of our tender age to comprehend. While we would be hard pressed today to recall the content of the books we read and discussed, the exposure surely helped to open and stir our minds.

Stephen D. Solender '60
As part of the liturgy of the Passover seder in thanking G-d for leading us out of slavery in Egypt, we say "Dayenu" - it would have been enough if only that had been done for us....In reflecting upon my relationship to Columbia, I am profoundly moved by a similar gratitude. If in 1956, Columbia had just removed me from the wait list and admitted me to the Class of 1960, Dayenu - that would have been enough. If I had just been given the opportunity for a prestigious liberal arts education, Dayenu - that would have been enough. But Columbia has meant even more to me and my family.

George L. Van Amson '74
I am proud to accept this generous tribute, and proud to be among this group of distinguished alumni. I am fortunate that Alma Mater on this day has gathered me in her arms, held me close and warmed me in her collective glory that is Columbia. This award, namesake of a great American and son of Columbia, is a tangible memento of that warmth. But more than that, its essence must be is used to redeem those sacrifices made by those known and unknown who have made this moment possible for someone like me. My appreciation for them is unending.


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