Jay Dinner Honors Five Alumni, Raises $2.2 Million for College
By Alex Sachare ’71; photos by Eileen Barroso
More than 600 alumni, students, faculty, administrators and guests filled Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City on March 5 as the College honored five of its most accomplished alumni with John Jay Awards for distinguished professessional achievement: Barry Bergdoll ’77, Alexandra Wallace Creed ’88, Robert L. Friedman ’64, Jonathan S. Lavine ’88 and Ronald F. Mason Jr. ’74.
It was the most successful event in the 30-year history of the John Jay Awards Dinner, raising $2.2 million for the College in what Bill Campbell ’62, chair of the Board of Trustees, called “a real celebration of the College.” President Lee C. Bollinger echoed that thought when he observed, “In many ways, the College is first among equals at the University, and tonight we are here to celebrate the College.”
In presenting the awards, Dean Austin Quigley declared that the five honorees “have enhanced the standing of the Columbia community through their remarkable achievements” in the fields of art and architecture, media, business and finance, and higher education. Each of the award recipients was introduced by a student who is a John Jay Scholar, and Mark Krotov ’08 spoke on behalf of all the scholars and thanked the alumni for their generous support of the special academic enhancement program.
Bergdoll is the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art and professor of architectural history in the Department of Art History and Archeology. “Columbia for me is a family,” he said, noting that he had arrived on campus 35 years ago and that any time he left, “it was always with a round-trip ticket.”
Creed is NBC News v.p. and executive producer of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, the first woman in a decade to lead a weeknight network evening newscast. “When I consider the things in life that are important to me, every one of them I trace back to Columbia,” she said. “The ability and urge to question everything, that I developed at Columbia, has been the foundation of my career as a journalist.”
Friedman is a senior managing director and chief legal officer of The Blackstone Group, a leading global alternative asset manager. “My years at Columbia were totally transformative,” said Friedman. “Columbia provides the best education that money, or a John Jay Scholarship, can buy.”
Jonathan Lavine is a managing director at Bain Capital, a leading global private investment firm based in Boston, and the chief investment officer of Sankaty Advisors, Bain Capital’s fixed income and credit affiliate. “Columbia teaches first and foremost critical thinking,” said Lavine. “Columbia really does send you away with one message: it is not about the degree you get, but what you do with that education.”
Mason has been president of Jackson State University since February 2000. Peviously, he founded and was executive director of the Tulane/Xavier National Center for the Urban Community.“It’s great to be back at Columbia,” said Mason. “As we say down south, I feel like I’m in some pretty high cotton alongside the other distinguished honorees. It was an exceptional experience for me to come to Columbia, and one for which I am forever grateful.”