Sydney S. Gross
Director of Communications
The Columbia College Academic Awards Committee has announced the winners of the 2013 Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching and Lionel Trilling Book Award. The honorees are selected annually by a student committee to honor faculty members for their contributions in the classroom and in print. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Low Library on May 8, 2013.
Nicholas Dames, Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities, will be presented with the 2013 Mark Van Doren Award for excellence in teaching. Boris Gasparov, Boris Bakhmeteff Professor of Russian and East European Studies, will receive the 2013 Lionel Trilling Book Award for his book, Beyond Pure Reason: Ferdinand de Saussure’s Philosophy of Language and Its Early Romantic Antecedents.
The Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching has been awarded each year since 1962 in recognition of a faculty member’s humanity, devotion to truth and inspiring leadership. The award was established in honor of Mark Van Doren GSAS ‘21, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, playwright, critic, editor and biographer, as well as a renowned scholar and legendary teacher who inspired generations of Columbia students.
The Lionel Trilling Book Award is given to a member of Columbia’s faculty whose book was published in the previous year and upholds a level of excellence commensurate with the work of Lionel Trilling CC ‘25, GSAS ‘26, GSAS ‘38. The award was established in 1976 in honor of Professor Trilling, a gifted and dedicated teacher who was deeply committed to undergraduate education, as well as a public intellectual known nationally for his scholarship and literary criticism, which appealed to a wide-audience.
The Columbia College Academic Awards Committee is responsible for awarding the Van Doren and Trilling awards each year. Committee members are selected by the co-chairs through applications at the start of every academic year so that the group of 15 to 25 students represents a cross-section of classes and majors in the College. The committee seeks nominations for the Van Doren and Trilling awards and committee members audit the classes of Van Doren nominees, read books under consideration for the Trilling award and have lively, informed and fulfilling discussions before deciding on two finalists. The committee bases its decision on criteria including: Is the material clearly explained? Does the faculty member demonstrate a passion for the material? Is he or she involved with students outside of the classroom? Every May, the committee hosts an awards ceremony to honor the chosen professors and their work, celebrate faculty-student connections and inform the community about the process of selecting winners. Co-chairs are selected amongst continuing students in the committee for the following year.