The Engineering News

Columbia Honors Sheldon Isakoff ’45


Sheldon E. Isakoff ’45, a loyal supporter and volunteer for SEAS, received the University’s highest award for alumni, the Alumni Medal for Conspicuous Service, at its annual Commencement Day luncheon in May. Dr. Isakoff, who received the School’s Egleston Medal in 1994 for distinguished engineering achievement, was cited by the Alumni Federation for his decades of service to the School.

“There is hardly an area at our School of Engineering and Applied Science which has not benefited from your exceptional dedication, insight, professional achievements, and generosity,” the citation states.

Dr. Isakoff, former director of engineering reseach for E.I. duPont deNemours, has given much to Columbia Engineering. As a member of the Engineering Council since 1980 and, prior to that, as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, he has advised deans of the School. In addition, he has served on committees of the Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association and recently was appointed to its Pupin Medal Award Committee.

In his 39-year tenure at duPont, Dr. Isakoff promoted SEAS by recruiting students to work there, by facilitating the membership of that company in the Columbia Engineering Affiliates program, and by working to strengthen the bonds between the com-pany and the School. As a graduate of the Chemical Engineering Department, he is viewed as its senior mentor. He chaired a reunion committee for chemical engineering alumni and is now working to organize an internship program for undergraduates by setting up and maintaining a strong relationship with the department’s 1500 alumni. To that end, he is editor of the department’s annual newsletter.

But Dr. Isakoff’s contributions to SEAS are not confined to his time and energy. His financial commitment to the School is as laudatory as his time commitment. He has maintained his membership in Thomas Egleston Associates for many years. He has been involved in his class’s reunion giving by calling classmates and setting an example in his level of giving. As a result, his class received the Roe Reunion Giving Award.

Recently, he has pledged $50,000 over a five- year period to establish the Sheldon E. Isakoff Scholarship Fund in Chemical Engineering. “Shelly represents the best qualities of SEAS alumni,” said Dean Zvi Galil. “He has given unselfishly of his time and financial resources to benefit the students of today, who I hope will follow his dedicated example. It is only by being able to attract the best students, through need-blind admissions, that we can maintain our leadership in engineering education. I am grateful to him for helping to make that possible.”

While many recipients of the Alumni Federation medal hold more than one Columbia degree, one would be hard pressed to find anyone with more than Shelly. He holds four: a B.S. from SEAS and a B.A. from Columbia College in 1945,an M.S. from SEAS in 1947, and the Ph.D. from Graduate School of Arts and Sciences granted in 1952. In addition, his family has several Columbia connections, since his brother Lawrence is a graduate of SEAS ’50 and ’51, while his son Peter is a graduate of the College, ’73, and Law School, ’78.

The Alumni Federation citation sums up the feelings of Dean Galil, the School, and the Chemical Engineering Department: “It is an honor to hail the dignity, intelligence, energy, and imagination you have enthusiastically devoted to Columbia.”

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