CLS Announces Recipients of the 2005 Medal for Excellence


The awardees were honored at
the Law School's 56th Annual Winter Luncheon

New York, NY, January 2005 - Michael Ratner '69, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Louis Lowenstein '53, Simon Rifkind Professor Emeritus of Finance and Law, Columbia Law School, received the Columbia Law School Association's Medal for Excellence on Friday, January 21, 2005 at the 56th Annual Winter Luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The Hon. Wilfred Feinberg '43, U.S. Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, also received special recognition by Columbia Law School's Dean, David Schizer, during his opening remarks.

Michael Ratner '69 is a widely respected lawyer who has fought for human rights both at home and abroad for more than three decades. Ratner started his career by working at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund followed by a clerkship with The Hon. Constance Baker Motley '46 in the Southern District of New York. In 1971, two years after graduating from Columbia Law School, Ratner joined CCR, where he has spent most of his career. In the late 1970s, Ratner began working on international cases such as representing Vieques fisherman who were resisting the U.S. Navy's use of their land for bombing practice. More recently Ratner served as co-counsel in Rasul v. Bush, the historic case of Guantánamo detainees recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ratner has also served as Special Counsel to Haitian President Aristide for the prosecution of human rights crimes, as president of the National Lawyers Guild and as radio co-host for the civil rights show, "Law and Disorder." Additionally, Ratner has penned several books and articles, has taught at Yale Law School and currently teaches international human rights litigation at his alma mater, Columbia Law School. Bruce Ratner '70, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, introduced his brother Michael and proudly presented him the Medal for Excellence.

The co-recipient for this year's Medal for Excellence was Professor Louis Lowenstein '53, who has made public service an integral part of his legal career. In particular, Prof. Lowenstein has been devoted to helping the homeless and served as Chairman of the Coalition for the Homeless from 1998 until November 2004. He has also led seminars and programs, at both the Law School and University, on helping the homeless. Additionally, he and his wife Helen have actively promoted the construction of affordable housing in Larchmont. At the Law School, Prof. Lowenstein has counseled generations of students as chairman of the board of directors of the Columbia Law Review and has pioneered and generously supported Public Services Fellowships, which enable recent graduates to pursue careers in public interest.

Prior to joining Columbia, Lowenstein worked as a corporate lawyer for more than two decades, including as founding partner of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. He later lent his expertise to public service, and served on the O'Malley Panel on Audit Effectiveness, which dealt with auditor independence and related issues growing out of concern over the rise in various financial reporting abuses. In 2004 he served on the Public Authority Governance Advisory Committee appointed by Governor George E. Pataki '71. Prof. Lowenstein has also authored, co-edited, and / or contributed to several books, articles and op-ed pieces. Prof. Lowenstein is a graduate of the Columbia Business and Law Schools. Ellen Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School presented Prof. Lowenstein with the award.

David Schizer, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, provided opening remarks and bestowed special recognition upon The Hon. Wilfred Feinberg '43, U.S. Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Feinberg, who is a past recipient of the Medal for Excellence, was recently awarded the 22nd Annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award for his significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole.

The Medal for Excellence is awarded to alumni or faculty members whose professional accomplishments reflect the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility that the Columbia Law School nurtures. Previous winners include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg '59, Professor Louis Henkin, Federal District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein '48, former U.S. District Attorney Mary Jo White '74, and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger '71.

# # #