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April 4, 2017

SIPA Celebrates 70th Anniversary with Forum, Gala, More

Hundreds of alumni and students, faculty and friends gather for historic series of festivities

SIPA marked its 70th anniversary with a historic celebration that drew guests from around the world to Morningside Heights. Hundreds of alumni and friends joined faculty, staff, and students for a long weekend filled with exciting programming. Among the many highlights were the SIPA Forum, the Global Leadership Awards Gala, and the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, as well as alumni-centered activities including receptions, presentations, cultural tours, and more.

The weekend began on March 30 with the 20th annual Dinkins Forum, keynoted by Congressman John Lewis, the civil-rights icon who has represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow, and Professor David N. Dinkins, the former mayor, delivered welcoming remarks at the Forum. Following Representative Lewis’s keynote speech, a panel discussion featuring faculty and guests examined questions of economic and political citizenship.

The festivities continued the next day as SIPA’s Program in Economic Policy Management marked its 25th anniversary. The program included a series of panels featuring alumni, faculty, and leading experts in economic policy management; Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld of the International Monetary Fund spoke at lunch. A networking reception for PEPM alums preceded a welcoming reception at Low Library for alumni of all programs.

On Saturday, attendees gathered for the SIPA Forum, an all-day event that brought together expert scholars and global policymakers for robust discussions about today’s pressing challenges. Janow moderated a keynote panel on global challenges of the 21st century. Taking part were Antony Blinken, the former deputy secretary of state and national security adviser; Arvind Panagariya, vice chairman of the Indian planning agency NITI Aayog; Mari Pangestu, former trade minister of Indonesia; and Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, China’s consul general in New York.

Lunchtime sessions provided the chance for alumni to network or listen to presentations by current students on a variety of subjects, including student-led cyber initiatives, the experience of students of color at SIPA, and the evolution of the school’s capstone workshops. Graduates of the International Fellows Program also gathered for a special “SIPA Connections” lunch featuring guest speaker David Ottaway IF ’63, a renowned journalist, foreign correspondent, and Wilson Center Fellow.

On Saturday afternoon, distinguished experts and alumni took part in six different panel discussions—on climate change, economic development, foreign policy, social transformation, migration and refugees, and global economic stagnation.

The day culminated in the Global Leadership Awards Gala at Morningside Heights’ own Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Almost 700 guests were on hand as SIPA honored Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brazil’s Fundacao Lemann (Lemann Foundation) for their extraordinary contributions to the global public good. Brzezinski served as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and was the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at SIPA from 1960 to 1989. Fundacao Lemann is a Brazilian non-profit organization that focuses on improving education through innovation, management, and policy. As always, proceeds from the gala are used to fund student fellowships.

The Celebration Weekend concluded on April 2 with a choice of guided tours for alumni. Some opted for a walking tour of Historic Harlem while others visited the first Whitney Biennial since the Whitney Museum of American Art moved downtown. A whirlwind of activity spanning 70 hours had finally drawn to a close.

— Serina Bellamy MIA ’17 and Matt Terry MIA 17

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