Sesquicentennial Celebrations

Columbia Law School had reason to celebrate in 2008, as last year marked its 150th anniversary.

Winter 2009

A yearlong series of celebrations across the globe toasted this milestone, with events both intellectual and social that attracted generations of Law School progeny.

In January, Dean David Schizer kicked off the Law School’s sesquicentennial by hosting alumni gatherings in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo with Professors Benjamin L. Liebman and Curtis J. Milhaupt ’89, directors of the Law School’s centers for Chinese and Japanese law, respectively.

Stateside, the celebration commenced with the annual Winter Luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria hotel, at which entrepreneur and philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest ’58 was awarded the Law School’s Medal for Excellence.

International celebrations continued in May with a conference in Israel, where the Law School is reaching out with bold initiatives, including the new Center for Israeli
Legal Studies. The event, co-sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, brought eight Law School professors to Tel Aviv to discuss issues involving freedom of speech and corporate governance. Several weeks later, the Law School’s 147th commencement recognized 650 graduates from 41 states and 18 nations, a reflection of the Law School’s tremendous growth and diversification since the first class in 1858.

The year’s attractions built to a grand finale in October with the Global Reunion in London, which brought together more than 170 Columbia alumni and friends. A week later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed October 25, 2008, Columbia Law School Day in New York. The sesquicentennial celebration drew to a close on October 25, when more than 1,200 alumni, faculty, students, and friends of Columbia Law School attended a gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. Michael Cardozo ’66, New York City’s corporation counsel, read Mayor Bloomberg’s proclamation, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59 delivered a survey of Columbians on the Supreme Court, beginning with the first chief justice of the United States, John Jay, who studied law at Columbia University’s forerunner, King’s College, from 1760 to 1764. That night, Ginsburg told the audience she plans to continue serving on the Supreme Court for at least another eight years.