Michael I. Sovern (1931– )
Columbia College 1953, Law 1955, LLD (hon.) 1980
Faculty 1960–present, President Emeritus 1993–present
Columbia has had the good fortune of having been led by several remarkable presidents, particularly Barnard, Low, and Butler. In the sixty odd years since the end of World War II, Michael Sovern's service has been such that he ranks among the most outstanding academic leaders at this or any other university.
Serving as dean of the law school, provost, and president during nearly a quarter of a century from 1970 to 1993, Sovern offered in Churchill's words "blood, sweat, and toil," leaving no tears in the wake of his leadership. Indeed, if one individual can be cited as fostering the renaissance that Columbia has experienced in recent years, it is Michael Sovern.
Picking up the pieces after the dislocations of 1968, Michael Sovern led the effort to heal the University's wounds and restored our alma mater to greatness. His presidency was one of the turning points in Columbia's history. Under Sovern's determined leadership we charted our way out of the stormy seas of the late 60s and early 70s. Thanks to him we once again set our sails in an ever upward direction.
Sovern transformed Columbia and left her better for his having served. When the next history of Columbia is written, Michael Sovern will be recognized along side those Columbians who have contributed to the betterment not only of Columbia but of education in America in general.
Submitted by Rudy Carmenaty, Law 1990, who is solely responsible for the content.