The Law School at Strongest Point in its 152-year History

Receiving the Medal for Excellence with U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Professor Henry Paul Monaghan proclaimed that today Columbia Law School is stronger than ever.

“The Law School is at its strongest point in my tenure,” said Henry Paul Monaghan, the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law, who was awarded the Columbia Law School Medal for Excellence at the Law School’s annual Winter Luncheon on February 5. “In fact, I believe it is at the strongest point in its history.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. ’76 was also honored with the medal at the luncheon, though he was unable to attend due to an impending snowstorm. (Read the Columbia Law School Magazine Profile on Holder)

The Medal for Excellence: Winter Luncheon 2010  Jack Coffee, Henry Monaghan,  and David Schizer at the Winter Luncheon 2010
(Left) Henry Monaghan accepts his award; Professors Coffee and Monaghan and Dean Schizer.

Long considered one of the nation’s leading constitutional law scholars and top experts on federal jurisdiction, Monaghan has taught at the Law School for 27 years. In addition to his teaching and scholarship, Monaghan has for years been a mentor to junior members of the faculty.
“We have been enormously successful in recruiting younger faculty, each of whom contributes to the life of the Law School,” said Monaghan, in remarks before a crowd of 600 at the Waldorf=Astoria. “At the entry level—with young people seeking their first appointment—we have been almost unbeatable.”

Award presenter Professor John C. Coffee Jr. pointed out that Monaghan reads draft after draft of working papers, with the goal of helping young faculty produce first-rate scholarship, for which the Law School has long been known.

David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, conveyed the attorney general’s regrets at not being able to attend, but that did not stop attendees from celebrating his achievements. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger ’71 lauded Holder for his long career in public service, including 12 years spent as a lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department, as a judge in the District of Columbia, and as the deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.
“Has there ever been an attorney general given more controversies to solve and a department more in need of leadership and respect?” Bollinger said of Holder, who attended the Law School after graduating from Columbia College in 1973.

President Bollinger lauds Attorney General Holder at the Winter Luncheon 2010.

Bollinger praised President Barack Obama and the attorney general for not sacrificing constitutional rights to fight crime and terrorism.
“It’s a hard path to live by our principles, to protect speech that offends and threatens us, to give rights to those who commit crimes and do us harm, to reject the lawless brutality we know our enemies do not hesitate to employ,” Bollinger said.

The Medal for Excellence is presented annually to an alumnus or faculty member who exemplifies the qualities of character and intellect, as well as the social and professional responsibility the Law School seeks to instill in its graduates.

Read Professor Henry Monaghan's Bio »
Read Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.'s '76 Bio »

Did you want to attend the Winter Luncheon but could not? Visit the Winter Luncheon 2010 site history, bios, and past winners.

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