Alumni Award Recipients

Many GS alumni have received GS and/or University awards or honors in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions. 

Alumni are encouraged to suggest fellow alumni for consideration by the GS Awards Committee, which works to identify and nominate GS alumni for awards and honors. 

Paul Yates and Chris Riano shake hands as Paul receives the Owl Award

GS Owl Award

Originally created by Barbara Levy '48 and Marshall Page '35, the Owl Award is given out in recognition of outstanding service to the School of General Studies. It is awarded annually by the School to a GS graduate, faculty member, or benefactor for exemplary service to GS, reflected by a sustained commitment to creating and building community, supporting and enriching School programs, and enhancing student life. 

Candidates are considered by the General Studies Alumni Association (GSAA) Awards committee and the Dean of the School of General Studies. The award is presented at the annual GS Reunion Dinner held during Reunion Weekend.

Columbia Alumni Medal

The Alumni Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) for distinguished service to the University. Candidates must be alumni of the University. The caliber of the candidate's service should be such that its effects are substantial and enduring. Such service may be to the University, its Schools, its various alumni organizations or the regional Columbia Clubs, and has usually been sustained for a period of at least ten years. The Medal is not awarded merely for longevity of service, however, nor for financial support or for work done as an employee of the University.

University Honorary Degrees

Each year at Commencement the University bestows honorary degrees on several esteemed individuals who exemplify the ideals of the University through their significant scholarly, artistic or societal achievements or contributions. This is the highest honor that the University can bestow on an individual and the Trustees endeavor to ensure recognition for achievements across all of the various areas of study and fields of academia.

Honorary degrees are awarded in the following categories:

  • The Arts
  • The Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The Natural, Applied and Pure Sciences
  • Public Life and Government
  • Professor Emeritus/Emerita

Honorees do not need to be graduates of Columbia University.

University Medal for Excellence

The University Medal for Excellence is awarded at Commencement, to an alumnus or alumna under 45 years of age whose record in scholarship, public service, and/or professional life is outstanding. Graduates from all divisions of the University, including Barnard College and Teachers College, are eligible for the Medal.