Class of 2003
of Columbia Graduates Names Great Teacher
Foundation Grant to Biomedical Engineering
Side of Volunteerism
Cybernetically Gifted and Water-Resistant
In Class Day garb, from the left, Distinguished
Faculty Teaching Award winners Kenneth L. Shephard, Eric V. Siegel,
Dean Zvi Galil, Alumni Association President Donald E. Ross '53
Class Day speaker David E. Shaw, and Distinguished Faculty Teaching
Award Winner Atle Gjelsvik.
As the rains fell, SEAS students joined with almost 9,000 of their
graduating brethren to be presented to University President George
Rupp for the awarding of their degrees. In keeping with the times
and the day, Dean Zvi Galil presented the class as "cybernetically
gifted, Y2K compliant, and water-resistant," whereupon Dr.
Rupp conferred the degrees upon the School's Class of 1999.
The class made its presence known so vociferously that their 300
voices more than equaled the shouts of the 1200-member College graduating
class. The din would have been even louder had not the exuberance
of the class been foiled by Security guards, who confiscated what
can only be described as noisemakers more associated with Chinese
New Year's celebrations than University Commencements.
The high spirits of the graduates on Commencement Day followed
a Class Day celebration the previous afternoon where candidates
heard remarks by David E. Shaw, the chairman and CEO of D.E. Shaw
& Co., Inc., a global securities and investment firm, and chairman
of Juno Online Services, Inc., a leading provider of Internet-related
services. At ceremonies held on the South Lawn, on a cloud-filled
day that showered rain on the assembled class, faculty, family and
friends, Dr. Shaw gave the soggy group good reason to be there.
Among his comments: "The greatest failure is a failure of the
imagination"; and "Engineering has never been more central
to society than now. Capitalize on it, accept the role and enjoy
The Class Day celebration was also the occasion for the Columbia
Engineering School Alumni Association to honor teachers who have
been selected by undergraduate students for their teaching ability.
This year's awardees were Atle Gjelsvik, Professor of Civil Engineering
and Engineering Mechanics; Kenneth L. Shepard, Assistant Professor
of Electrical Engineering; and Eric V. Siegel, Assistant Professor
of Computer Science.
Hassan Sinno, class president, presented a Japanese maple to the
School "so our class will be remembered as one that showed
love and commitment to its School." In accepting the gift,
Dean Galil said: "Its roots will be nourished by Columbia,
as were the students who have given it."