Professors Honored with Trilling, Van Doren Awards

The Academic Awards Committee of Columbia College honored the 2016 recipients of the Lionel Trilling Book Award and Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching at a ceremony on May 4 in Low Library. Susan Pedersen, the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History, was honored with the 41st annual Lionel Trilling Book Award for her recent book, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire, and Liza Knapp, associate professor of Slavic languages, was honored with the 55th annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching, for her unparalleled dedication to both the Department of Slavic Languages and the Core Curriculum.

Academic Award Committee with Susan Pedersen, Liza Knapp and Dean Valentini

Susan Pedersen (seated, at right) and Liza Knapp (seated, at left), were joined by Dean James J. Valentini and members of the Academic Awards Committee, along with Eli Bryk ’78, PS’82 (back row, far left), a student founder of the Lionel Trilling Book Award who each year sponsors a luncheon for the committee members.


The Lionel Trilling Book Award is awarded annually to a member of the faculty whose book was published in the previous year and upholds a level of excellence commensurate with the work of Lionel Trilling ’25, GSAS’38. The award was established in 1976 in honor of Trilling, a gifted and dedicated Columbia professor who was committed to undergraduate education as well as a public intellectual known for his scholarship and literary criticism, which appealed to a wide audience.

The Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching was established in honor of Mark Van Doren GSAS’20, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, playwright, critic, editor and biographer as well as a renowned scholar and legendary Columbia faculty member. It has been awarded annually since 1962 in recognition of a faculty member’s humanity, devotion to truth and inspiring leadership.