Ten Years of Extraordinary Leadership
Columbia Law School Celebrates the Deanship of David M. Schizer
New York, May 8, 2014—David M. Schizer elevated Columbia Law School to new heights during his 10-year service as dean: expanding the curriculum, broadening career opportunities for graduates in both the private and public sectors, exceeding previous fundraising records, and increasing the size of the faculty by an unprecedented 19 percent.
|Guests at the dinner were given a book of Welcome and Graduation addresses Dean Schizer has delivered over|
his 10-year tenure.
Dean Schizer reached these remarkable milestones despite serving through the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the resulting downturn in legal hiring and law school enrollment. He recently was interviewed by Forbes about legal education over the past decade.
Columbia Law School alumni, faculty, and guests recognized Dean Schizer's accomplishments at a May 1 gala dinner in his honor at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“It’s rare enough to lead a law school for 10 years with the wind at your back, but it’s truly remarkable to do so facing a series of unanticipated headwinds,” said Columbia Law School Professor Thomas W. Merrill, the Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law who served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.
Attendees heard remarks from a cross-section of the Law School community: H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest ’58, president of the Lenfest Foundation and one of the school’s most prominent and supportive alumni; Justice Rolando T. Acosta ’82, of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department; Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin ’99; Associate Professor and Milton Handler Fellow Robert J. Jackson Jr.; and Jonathan D. Schiller ’73, co-chair of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees and managing partner of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
|Attendees dined in the world-famous Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum|
of Natural History. During the ceremony, Professor Merrill presented Dean Schizer with an engraved silver Tiffany platter on behalf of the Columbia Law School faculty.
Each of the speakers highlighted some of Dean Schizer’s most outstanding achievements since 2004 when he became the youngest dean in Columbia Law School history at the age of 35.
|Professor Thomas W. Merrill served as the evening's master of ceremonies.|
Setting these new standards of excellence under trying financial circumstances is “a tremendous testament to Dean Schizer’s stewardship,” said Merrill. “The Law School has not only survived; it has flourished. In fact, it is stronger than it was when David started and indeed stronger than it’s ever been in its illustrious history.”
Lenfest and Acosta spoke on behalf of the alumni community.
H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest '58 praised Dean Schizer's innovative model for faculty recruitment.
Over the years, many of Columbia Law School’s deans have sought the advice of Lenfest, who has given more than $36 million to the Law School, including $15 million for the Lenfest Hall student residences. But Lenfest said Dean Schizer “already knew what needed to be done” when he took over the Law School and that he proceeded to do it with characteristic modesty. In particular, Lenfest mentioned the dean’s development of an innovative model for faculty recruitment that provides housing assistance, a model later taken up by other institutions.
|Justice Rolando T. Acosta '82 attended the gala|
with his daughter, Zila Acosta '15.
Acosta, whose daughter is finishing her second year at the Law School, acknowledged Dean Schizer’s record-breaking contributions but added that the dean’s “immeasurable” leadership qualities will be his longest-lasting legacy. As an example, Acosta pointed to Dean Schizer’s early adoption of a gender-based misconduct policy, well ahead of other law schools and universities.
“I know the courage it took to swim upstream on this very difficult issue, and I thank you,” Acosta said.
The judge added that the dean’s leadership “can be seen in his willingness to engage with alumni while at the same time creating an environment that preserves the loyalty of current students.”
|Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr. spoke about Dean Schizer's efforts to develop the|
scholarship of junior faculty.
When introducing Jackson, Merrill noted Dean Schizer’s concerted effort to hire junior faculty who invigorate the Law School community with new ideas and energy. Jackson, who also serves as co-director of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, was recently voted tenure.
“By common consensus, Columbia Law School has the strongest cohort of junior faculty in the country,” Merrill said. “Junior faculty are nothing less than the foundation on which the future of our Law School is built.”
Jackson said the number of faculty Dean Schizer has hired “doesn’t tell the full story.”
“This school is filled with dozens of young scholars who developed their careers right here at Columbia,” Jackson said. “Dean Schizer undertook the painstaking work of sitting down with each one of us, reading our work and helping us develop our voices.”
|Jonathan D. Schiller '73 presented Dean Schizer with a citation from the Columbia University Board of Trustees.|
Towards the end of the evening, Schiller invited Dean Schizer up to the stage and presented him with a citation from the Columbia University Board of Trustees. He noted the dean’s early professional success, including his clerkships for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59 and Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, as well as his reputation as a leading tax scholar.
“Even these impressive early accomplishments have been exceeded by what you have achieved in the past 10 years as dean of Columbia Law School,” said Schiller, an alumnus whose children are also Columbia Law School graduates.
End of an Era
|Dean Schizer and his wife, Meredith|
“Someone just told me that this evening is like a second bar mitzvah for me,” he joked, adding that the decade has gone by “in the blink of an eye.”
The dean offered some of his thoughts on why a Columbia Law School education is so important—to students, alumni, and the world.
“We believe that a wise and just legal system makes the world better, translating our highest ideals into the flesh and blood of working institutions,” he said. “Our Law School is indispensable to this effort. We advance the state of knowledge about law, and train new generations of stewards for the rule of law.”
Dean Schizer said he owes much to the 13 deans who preceded him at the helm of Columbia Law School, including his immediate predecessor David W. Leebron, who was in attendance. The dean also thanked his wife, Meredith, for her “advice, unfailing support, and tireless devotion” to their children.
|Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin '99 told guests about Dean Schizer's devotion to his family.|
Greenberg-Kobrin also recognized members of Dean Schizer’s family who were in attendance, including his mother Hazel, a 1959 alumna, Meredith, and the Schizers' two daughters.
“We all well understand the partnership you and David share,” Greenberg-Kobrin said to Meredith. “An undertaking of this duration requires a tremendous commitment on the part of the other partner. Thank you for all you have done for a very long period of time.”
On behalf of the faculty, Merrill presented Schizer with an engraved silver Tiffany platter in appreciation of his efforts over the past 10 years.
|The dean's mother, Hazel Schizer '59,|
was on hand for the celebration.
Dean Schizer’s term officially ends June 30 when Robert E. Scott, the Alfred McCormack Professor of Law, will become interim dean. Gillian Lester will become Columbia Law School’s 15th dean on Jan. 1, 2015.
The more than 400 guests in attendance at the dinner enjoyed rare after-hours access to the museum, which is headed by Ellen V. Futter ’74, a distinguished alumna whose daughters also attended the Law School. The evening started with a cocktail reception among prehistoric exhibits in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. One guest was so pleased to catch up with former classmates and professors that he failed to immediately appreciate his surroundings, exclaiming, “It took me 10 minutes to realize I was standing underneath a dinosaur!”
|During a cocktail reception, guests mingled with the prehistoric residents of|
the museum's Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda.
The formal program took place over dinner in the dramatic Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, underneath one of the museum’s most iconic displays: a 94-foot model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling, which seemed to bob in the waves of the reflective blue lights cast about the room.
|The iconic museum was transformed into a gorgeous gala space.|
Though the evening marked a celebration of Dean Schizer’s remarkable tenure, there was no feeling of farewell. Each of the speakers noted that the Law School and broader university will continue to benefit from his leadership and scholarship when he returns to full-time teaching as the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, in addition to his roles as co-director of the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy; The Charles Evans Gerber Transactional Studies Center; and the Center for Israeli Legal Studies.
“One of the advantages of being the youngest dean ever is that when your term is over you haven’t even reached the peak of your career yet,” Merrill joked.
Schiller echoed that sentiment.
“Our admiration is matched by our pleasure in knowing that your future promises continued decades of enrichment to this great university,” he said.
Dean Schizer said his feelings about the Law School can be summed up in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a member of the Columbia Law School Class of 1882 whose statue stands outside the museum’s entrance.
|Dean Schizer expressed his gratitude for the honor to serve as dean. When his term ends June 30, he will return to full-time teaching as the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and the|
Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics.
View more photos from the evening here.