For actress Julia Stiles, CC ’05, Wednesday night marked the beginning of the end.
“It’s all downhill from here,” Stiles, 28, joked at the John Jay Awards, the annual event hosted by the Columbia College Alumni Association honoring five alumni for professional achievements.
As the youngest of five recipients, Stiles said this was a surreal experience. “I feel like I graduated,” she said.
The other winners this year were David Rosand, CC ’59 and Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, Brian Krisberg, CC ’81, chair of the Columbia College Alumni Association Board of Directors, Frank Lopez-Balboa, CC ’82, a managing director of Goldman Sachs, and Tracy Maitland, CC ’82, president and chief investment officer of Advent Capital Management.
The recipients gathered with hundreds of students, alumni, and administrators in a restored Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street for the dinner’s 32nd year.
The event benefits the John Jay National Scholarship Program. This year, the event raised over a million dollars, William Campbell, CC ’62, chair of the board of trustees, said.
But Columbia College Dean Michele Moody-Adams reminded patrons that there was still an uphill financial battle ahead, even though difficult times can encourage innovation. “It is in the times of substantial challenge that acts of courage and commitment can have the greatest consequences,” Moody-Adams said.
But for University President Lee Bollinger, the year has proven relatively quiet. While Bollinger has seen campus controversy in his time, he could tell it’s a calm semester “when the biggest story on campus is coyotes,” he said, referring to a public safety recent sighting.
Stiles, in her speech, discussed the challenges of balancing education and her acting career as an undergraduate. “I had already started working by the time I was applying to college,” she said. “But they [Columbia] also taught me that my career and my studies were not mutually exclusive.”
Despite Stiles’s fame, perhaps the largest applause was saved for Krisberg, who has remained a part of the Alumni Association for over 20 years. Krisberg, in his speech, bemoaned his first few days on campus. Forced to commute because of a lack of Columbia housing, Krisberg forgot his swimsuit at home and was instructed to take the mandatory swim test naked. And to add insult to injury, “I had chosen an all-male institution,” he said.
Krisberg said his twenty-plus years working with alumni has had a significant impact on his life. With a couple of exceptions, he said, “Tonight is the best night of my life.”