From the Dean

On February 6, 2009, Dean David M. Schizer spoke at the 60th annual Winter Luncheon, where he honored both Jerome Greene ’28, ’83 HON and Steven Epstein ’68 with the Law School’s highest award: the Medal for Excellence. An edited version of those remarks appears below.

Winter 2009

“Since 1964, Columbia Law School’s most distinguished alumni have been recognized with the Medal for Excellence. The medal is awarded to those whose professional achievements reflect the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility fostered by Columbia Law School . . .generously drawing upon their talents and wisdom in support of civic altruism.  Steven Epstein and the late Jerome Greene join a prestigious list of past medalists, including William O. Douglas ’25, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59, and Gerry Lenfest ’58.

We could not be more proud.

Steven Epstein is a towering figure in the field of health care law. He has been called the father of the health care industry. He has written a book on health law, and, fortunately for the Law School, he teaches a course on the subject for us. In 1973, Steven founded the firm of Epstein, Becker & Green, one of the world’s premier law firms in health care law, and the firm has grown to 400 lawyers in 10 cities. Steven has a unique ability to help people find common ground, and to cut to the heart of a complex issue so that he can help resolve it. For wise and thoughtful counsel, there is no better source. I know this from personal experience, because Steven serves as the chair of our Board of Visitors. His leadership of our Board is inspired. The group is energized, and under his leadership, every year, it plays a more central role in the life of the school.

[In addition to honoring Mr. Epstein,] it is with admiration and respect that we pay tribute to a man whose name is indelibly linked to Columbia Law School. It’s a name familiar to every graduate and professor who has graced our halls over the past two decades: Jerome L. Greene. I regret never having gotten to know Jerry personally, as our school, our university, and our city suffered a profound loss on May 27, 1999, when he passed away at the age of 93. Today we posthumously award our highest honor to this dedicated New Yorker, an ardent Columbian who believed in the transformative power of giving. You already know that our flagship building, the heart of Columbia Law School’s intellectual and student life, bears his name.

You may also be aware that he has been a committed benefactor to his alma mater, providing a vast and broad range of support to the university in the form of scholarships, professorships, bricks and mortar, and research funding. You may not know, however, that Jerry has enhanced the health and welfare of millions of people whom he will never meet, ensuring their promise for a brighter future through his extraordinary generosity to education and the arts, to medicine, and to the whole of our society.

Jerome Greene credited his Law School experience with providing him the tools that made his success as an attorney and real estate investor possible, leaving him with a deeply felt desire to give back. A towering figure in the lives of many, Jerome Greene’s exceptional intellect, unique vision, and unwavering commitment to social responsibility continue to sustain and inspire us.”