2018 Winter Luncheon at Cipriani

Columbia Law School’s most prestigious award, the Medal for Excellence, has been presented annually since 1964 to alumni and past or present faculty members who exemplify the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility that the Law School seeks to instill in its students.​

On October 28, 2022, the Law School recognized two esteemed alumni, Ellen V. Futter BC ’71, LAW ’74 and Brad Smith ’84, in the Ballroom of Cipriani 42nd Street. For inquiries, please contact Beth Evans at (212-854-1378 or [email protected]).

Ellen V. Futter BC ’71, LAW ’74
President of the American Museum of Natural History

Ellen Futter has led the American Museum of Natural History for nearly three decades. During her tenure, she has reinvigorated the over 150-year-old institution and expanded its scientific and educational scope. She spearheaded the construction of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the renovation of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and the development of the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. Futter is currently overseeing the construction of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, expected to open in winter 2023 with a new state-of-the-art theater, exhibition galleries, classrooms, and a redesigned library and collections core.

Futter has been a nationally recognized leader in the educational and nonprofit worlds since 1980, when, at age 29, she became the youngest person to be appointed president of a major American college: Barnard College, her alma mater. She remained president until 1993. Futter began her career as an associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (now Milbank), where she practiced corporate law from 1974 to 1980.

Columbia University has been central to Futter’s life. Her father, Victor Futter, graduated from Columbia College in 1939 and received a J.D. from the Law School in 1942. Futter’s daughters, Anne and Libby Shutkin, received J.D.s from the Law School in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Columbia University has awarded Futter both an honorary degree and its Medal for Excellence, and she received the Law School’s Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility in 2008.

Futter also has the distinction of having been the first woman to head a major New York City cultural institution and the first woman to chair the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A wide range of corporations and nonprofits seek out Futter’s advice and expertise. She is currently a member of the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution, a member of the board of overseers of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a member of the board of directors of NYC & Co. She also serves on the boards of Consolidated Edison and Evercore.

Futter has been recognized for her leadership with numerous awards and honorary degrees.

Brad Smith ’84
Vice Chair and President of Microsoft

Brad Smith leads a global team of more than 1,900 business, legal, and corporate affairs professionals located in 52 countries and operating in more than 120 nations. In his nearly 30-year career at Microsoft, Smith has been a leader not only in ending the company’s antitrust litigation worldwide but also in holding the technology sector to account for its impact on society. He spearheads Microsoft’s work on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability, and human rights. He also leads the company’s social responsibility initiatives, including its work to advance privacy protection for customers and to ensure the rights of DREAMers and other immigrants.

Raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, Smith graduated in 1981 from Princeton University, where he met his wife, Kathy Surace-Smith ’84. Prior to joining Microsoft in 1993, Smith clerked for the New York Federal Court Judge Charles Metzner ’33 and was a partner at Covington & Burling, where he was the first lawyer to insist on having a personal computer on his desk—in 1986.

Smith is a committed supporter of education and human rights. He is a trustee of Princeton University and a director of the University of Washington Foundation. He is co-founder, with Angelina Jolie, of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which provides legal representation for unaccompanied refugee and migrant children.

Together with his wife, Smith has been deeply engaged with the Law School. This year, the couple endowed the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic, and they serve as co-chairs, with Alison S. Ressler ’83, of the five-year, $300 million Campaign for Columbia Law. In 2004, they created The Smith Family Opportunity Scholarship, which supports students from countries underrepresented at the Law School. In 2019, Microsoft funded TrialWatch, founded by the Law School’s Human Rights Institute and the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Their son, Gregory, graduated from Columbia Law School in 2021.

Smith is the co-author of the best-seller Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age (Penguin Press, 2019) and hosts the Tools and Weapons podcast.

On February 28, 2020, the Law School recognized two esteemed alumni, Jim Millstein ’82 and Franklin A. Thomas ’63, in the Ballroom of Cipriani 42nd Street. For inquiries, please contact Beth Evans at 212-854-1378 or [email protected].

Jim Millstein '82
Co-Chairman, Guggenheim Securities, LLC

One of the most respected global advisors to companies, investors, and sovereigns on restructuring and recapitalization transactions, Jim Millstein is a turnaround specialist who has worked in Asia, Europe and throughout the United States. During the Obama Administration, Millstein served from 2009 to 2011 as the chief restructuring officer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he was the architect of the successful restructuring of the American International Groups (AIG). He also oversaw several of the government’s investments in the financial sector that were made during the fiscal crisis.

After his government service, Millstein founded the advisory firm Millstein & Co., which he sold in 2018 to Guggenheim Securities, LLC, the investment banking and capital markets division of Guggenheim Partners. He currently serves as co-chairman of Guggenheim Securities and is a member of the Investment Committee of Mill Point Capital, a middle-market private equity firm.

Millstein began his career as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, where he became a partner in 1991 and headed its restructuring practice. In 2000, he joined Lazard Frères & Co. as a managing director and served as global co-head of its restructuring practice.
His philanthropic activities are diverse and include his serving as a board member of the Weanitoge Heritage Land Trust, the largest of its kind in Connecticut, and as a board member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation organization that represents more than 1,000 member land trusts. He serves on the Senior Leadership Council of Her Justice, which provides pro bono legal counsel for women living in poverty.

Millstein earned his B.A. in 1978 from Princeton University and an M.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, before receiving a J.D. in 1982 from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Millstein serves on the advisory board of the Law School’s Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, which was founded by and named for his father, a 1949 graduate of the Law School, who received the Medal for Excellence in 2014. In 2016, father and son established the Millstein Public Service Fellowship that supports recent Columbia Law graduates working with the federal government in the area of financial regulation. In 2019, he co-taught a Law School seminar on private capital.

Watch Jim Millstein '82 receive the Medal for Excellence.

Franklin A. Thomas ’63
Consultant, The Study Group
and former President and CEO of the Ford Foundation

Franklin Thomas, former president and CEO of the Ford Foundation, is the first African-American to lead a major U.S. philanthropy. During his tenure at the foundation from 1979 to 1996, Thomas oversaw grants of more than $200 million annually to aid needy communities, finance educational and cultural institutions, support civil and human rights in the United States and around the world, and strengthen and empower policy influencing organizations. He is currently a consultant for and board member of The Study Group, a nonprofit that assists development in South Africa.

Thomas’s career is defined by public service. After graduating from Columbia College in 1956, he served in the Air Force until 1960, when he entered Columbia Law School, receiving his J.D. in 1963. He then worked as an attorney for the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency, an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and deputy commissioner for legal matters for the New York City Police Department. In 1967, he was appointed by New York Sen. Robert Kennedy as president and CEO of the newly created Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a non-profit involved in physical and economic development, where he served for a decade. 

Regarded as an astute adviser on corporate and charitable matters, Thomas has been a director of Citicorp/Citibank, PepsiCo, Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), Avaya, CBS, Inc., Cummins Engine Co. Inc., and Lucent Technologies. His other nonprofit work includes serving as chairman of the September 11th Fund, and on the boards of the Friends of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Thomas has deep ties to Columbia University. As an undergraduate at Columbia College, he became the first African American to captain an Ivy League basketball team and was inducted into the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame in 2003, and the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. From 1969 to 1975, he served as a trustee of the university, which awarded him an honorary degree in 1979. His many other honors include the Columbia University Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Columbia College Alexander Hamilton Award, the Columbia University Medal for Excellence, and Columbia Law School’s Wien Prize for Social Responsibility.

Watch Franklin Thomas ’63 receive the Medal for Excellence.

Winter Luncheon 2020 Gallery

1964 *Hon. Joseph M. Proskauer, 1899
1965 *Hon. Harold R. Medina ’12
1966 *Hon. Thomas E. Dewey ’25
1967 *Hon. Stanley H. Fuld ’26
1968 *Whitney North Seymour ’23
1969 *Dean William C. Warren
1970 *Hon. Frank S. Hogan ’28
1971 *Professor Walter Gellhorn ’31
1971 *Professor Herbert Wechsler ’31
1972 *Hon. Stanley Reed ’09
1973 *Hon. William O. Douglas ’25
1973 *Hon. Simon H. Rifkind ’25
1974 *Hon. Clifford P. Case ’28
1974 *Hon. William T. Gossett ’28
1975 *Hon. Charles D. Breitel ’32
1976 *Professor Milton Handler ’26
1976 *Professor Richard R.B. Powell ’14
1977 *Hon. Philip C. Jessup ’24
1978 *Hon. Paul R. Hays ’33
1978 *Hon. Leonard P. Moore ’22
1979 *Hon. Harold Leventhal ’36
1979 *Hon. Carl McGowan ’36
1980 *Harriet F. Pilpel ’36
1981 *Hon. Lawrence E. Walsh ’35
1982 *Professor Louis Henkin
1983 *Wilbur H. Friedman ’30
1984 *Hon. Oscar H. Davis ’37
1984 *Justin A. Stanley ’37
1985 *Professor Willis L.M. Reese
1986 *Hon. James D. Hopkins ’33
1986 *Hon. Benjamin Kaplan ’33
1987 *Hon. Marvin E. Frankel ’48
1987 *Hon. Constance Baker Motley ’46
1988 *Edith I. Spivack ’32
1988 *Morton Stavis ’36
1989 *Professor Harry W. Jones ’39
1989 *Professor Albert J. Rosenthal
1990 *Hon. Wilfred Feinberg ’43
1990 Hon. Jack B. Weinstein ’48
1991 *Hon. Frank C. Newman ’47 LL.M., ’53 J.S.D.
1991 *Professor Oscar Schachter ’39
1992 Hon. Vilma S. Martinez ’67
1993 *Hon. Hong-Choo Hyun ’69
1993 *Hon. Eugene Nickerson ’43
1994 *Hon. Giles Sutherland Rich ’29
1994 *Professor Maurice Rosenberg ’47
1995 Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59*
1996 *Hon. Kathryn Austin McDonald ’63
1996 *Professor Arthur W. Murphy ’48
1997 *Hon. Marie L. Garibaldi ’59
1997 *Professor Michael I. Sovern ’55
1998 *Sidney J. Sheinberg ’58
1998 Mary Jo White ’74
1999 *Professor Jack Greenberg ’48 O
1999 *Professor Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. ’54
2000 *Professor John M. Kernochan ’48
2000 Hon. Felice K. Shea ’50
2001 *Hon. Dickinson R. Debevoise ’51
2001 *Harvey R. Miller ’59
2001 Ken Tsunematsu ’63
2002 President Lee C. Bollinger Jr. ’71
2003 Susan B. Lindenauer ’64
2003 Judith R. Thoyer ’65
2003 *Judith P. Vladeck ’47
2004 *Professor E. Allan Farnsworth ’52
2004 *Stanley L. Temko ’43
2005 *Professor Louis Lowenstein ’53
2005 *Michael D. Ratner ’69
2006 Wei Sun Christianson ’89
2006 Professor R. Randle Edwards
2007 Michael E. Patterson ’67
2007 Esta Eiger Stecher ’82
2008 *H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest ’58
2009 Steven Epstein ’68
2009 *Jerome L. Greene ’28
2010 Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr. ’76
2010 Professor Henry Paul Monaghan
2011 Max W. Berger ’71
2011 Stephen H. Case ’68
2012 Hon. Jeh Charles Johnson ’82
2012 Richard Paul Richman ’72 J.D., ’73 M.B.A.
2013 Morton L. Janklow ’53
2013 Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. ’83
2014 Ira M. Millstein ’49
2014 Edgar G. Rios ’77
2015 *Hon. Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ’53
2015 Roberta A. Kaplan ’91
2016 Hon. Antony J. Blinken '88
2016 Alison S. Ressler '83
2017 Hon. Anita Blumstein Brody ’58
2017 *David J. Stern ’66
2018 Stephen Friedman ’62 
2018 Hon. Gerard E. Lynch ’75
2019 Jonathan D. Schiller ’73
2019 Nina L. Shaw ’79
2020 Jim Millstein '82
2020 Franklin A. Thomas ’63