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2008 Winners of the Mark Van Doren and Lionel Trilling awards Announced

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The 47th Annual Mark Van Doren Award—which honors a Columbia professor for his or her commitment to undergraduate instruction, as well as for "humanity, devotion to truth, and inspiring leadership"—has been given to Andrew Nathan, the Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science. The award is named in honor of Mark Van Doren, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, literary critic, and longtime member of Columbia's faculty with a reputation for pedagogical greatness. Professor Nathan has taught at Columbia since 1971, during which time he has published many books on modern Chinese politics and human rights; served as director of the East Asian Institute at the School of International and Public Affairs; received a Guggenheim fellowship, among others; and directed graduate studies within the Political Science department—all while maintaining his accessibility and commitment to undergraduates. He currently teaches ‘Introduction to Human Rights’ and ‘Chinese Foreign Policy’ at the undergraduate level.

The 33rd Annual Lionel Trilling Award, which honors a book from the past year by a Columbia author that best exhibits the standards of intellect and scholarship found in the work of Lionel Trilling, '27, has been given to Joseph Massad for his Desiring Arabs. Professor Massad teaches modern Arab politics and intellectual history in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department. This book—his third—offers an insightful study of representations of Arab sexuality. It is an important and eloquent work of scholarship that the committee feels will have a lasting impact on its field.

The Columbia College Academic Awards Committee is a student-led group of nine students, representing a cross-section of classes and majors within the College. It is the committee's annual responsibility to oversee the selection process for the Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren awards. Beginning in the fall, the committee co-chairs select new members and solicit nominations for each award. For the rest of the fall semester, and well into the spring, committee members audit the classes (both lectures and seminars) of Van Doren award nominees to observe the quality of their instruction. At the same time, committee members read titles under consideration for the Trilling award. Working collaboratively, the committee meets every week to confer on the selection process and to evaluate nominated professors and all books published by Columbia’s faculty in the calendar year. This process culminates in the selection of the winners in the spring.

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