Two Distinguished Alumni Awarded the 2024 Medal for Excellence

From remaining to suitable: Columbia Law Faculty Dean Gillian Lester, Columbia College President Minouche Shafik, Rolando T. Acosta ’82, and Alia Tutor ’00.

More than 350 associates of the Columbia Law neighborhood collected on February 23 at Cipriani 42nd Avenue in New York as Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Regulation, presented the Medal for Excellence to two alumni who exemplify the attributes of character, intellect, and social and specialist duty that the Regulation School seeks to instill in its pupils: Rolando T. Acosta CC ’79, Law ’82 and Alia Tutor ’00.

“Awarding the Medal for Excellence is a singular annual ritual in the existence of the Regulation College,” mentioned Dean Lester in her introduction. “It’s an possibility for us to occur together and reaffirm our highest ideals of what our graduates need to attempt for and to rejoice individuals who most effective embody these values.”

Acosta served for a quarter century as an ground breaking and neighborhood-minded New York trial and appellate decide, presiding above hundreds of bench and jury trials and 1000’s of appeals in civil and legal situations. Most notably, he served on the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Initially Department for 15 a long time, which includes six years as presiding justice. He retired from the bench in March 2023 and is now a companion at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. He is also a trustee emeritus of Columbia College.

Tutor is president of the Alia Tutor Relatives Foundation. Her philanthropy is driven by initiatives wherever she can make a considerable effects, significantly in medication, bigger training, and the arts. In 2022, Tutor, by way of the basis, made a transformational $17.5 million gift to Columbia Legislation School—the greatest solitary commitment in the Legislation School’s history—for the reimagined Regulation School Library, which will bear her identify when it opens in 2025. 

The event started with welcoming remarks by G. Wade Leak ’89, president of the Columbia Regulation Faculty Affiliation, adopted by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik. “Since I grew to become president, I have been making my way all-around the college group, assembly folks, and learning about what tends to make Columbia unique,” President Shafik stated. “It will come as no shock to all of you that the Law College has come up as a huge issue of satisfaction. I won’t really say that all roadways guide to the Law College, but I would say that each personally and institutionally, in so many of these conversations, the delight in Columbia Law School is apparent.”

Acknowledging her plans to move down as dean in 2024, Dean Lester also mirrored appreciatively on the quite a few contributions to society and the authorized career built by the Regulation School’s alumni, college, and college students. “We Columbians are called upon to lead, to establish, to resolve the toughest complications, to give back again, to encourage many others to action,” she reported. “And as I glimpse out into this room, I see individuals characteristics in every single corner. And I am filled with pride.”

A Properly-Lived Life

Rolando T. Acosta ’82 accepts the Medal for Excellence.

Presenting the Medal for Excellence to Acosta, Dean Lester stated he had “distinguished himself as a jurist, general public servant, neighborhood leader, and Columbia University citizen” during a occupation spanning more than four decades. 

Dean Lester cited his quite a few achievements, like his election as the 1st Dominican American to provide on the New York State Supreme Court docket in New York County and his part in creating the Harlem Community Justice Center, which addresses the root causes of criminal offense and offers holistic assist to at-chance youth. “We fork out tribute to Rolando not only to honor his impressive achievements but also the values he embodies—integrity, compassion, and an unwavering motivation to justice,” she mentioned.

Accepting the award, Acosta paid out homage to his immigrant parents who, irrespective of dwelling in poverty and its “resulting despair,” thought that “a existence nicely-lived automatically involves the benefit of instruction, excellence, and support to other folks,” he explained, including that obtaining the Medal for Excellence not only honors him but also “my parents’ sacrifice and vision of a much better upcoming for their six kids in a spot where by justice is not swayed by the caprice of people in electricity, and the rule of regulation is not just an summary or empty idea but a dwelling theory that buildings our life and undergirds our democracy.”

Acosta also spoke movingly about the affect of his alma mater on his daily life. “Columbia Regulation University gave me the tools to make a distinction not only in bolstering the socioeconomic and political aspirations of my escalating Latino community, but in my broader and loftier plans to do justice in our great modern society beneath the rule of regulation,” he reported. “So Columbia gave this means to what I typically read: that the aim of law university is not only to safeguard legal rights, stop abuses, and prevent wrongdoing but also to generate the conditions in which the talents and energies of a assorted citizenry can thrive.”

A Visionary Philanthropist

Alia Tutor ’00 accepts the Medal for Excellence.

“As president of the Alia Tutor Household Foundation, Alia embodies the spirit of altruism and services, with a keen feeling of goal and a deep being familiar with of the electric power of collective motion,” stated Dean Lester prior to presenting the Medal for Excellence to Tutor. 

Dean Lester shared how Tutor’s deep and abiding own affection for Columbia Regulation impressed her to build the Sidney J. Feltenstein 1926 Scholarship Fund, named for her grandfather, as nicely as her management reward to help the library renovation. “Recognizing the important function that the library performed in her have academic journey, she observed an opportunity to pay out it forward and make sure that others would have access to our entire world-course methods and facilities, and we understood her management would inspire some others to take part,” Dean Lester claimed. “Working with Alia has been a joy. She is good. She is funny. She is empathic, and she’s really clever.”

The Dean also lauded Tutor for her volunteer guidance in her household metropolis, Los Angeles, exactly where she life with her partner and kids. She cited Tutor’s service on the board of administrators for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the CHLA Basis Board of Trustees, as effectively as on the USC president’s council and as an inaugural member of the Keck Medication of USC Board of Councilors. 

Accepting the Medal for Excellence, Tutor explained why the library renovation challenge is so meaningful. “As a young regulation student, I felt most invigorated in the library, surrounded by a long time of residing expertise, the warmth and collegiality of my classmates, and the openness to new concepts and other factors of check out,” she mentioned. “To me, that is what this landmark job is all about: delivering a modern-day and reimagined venue for new generations of legislation pupils to convene, to grow, to provoke, and to be influenced.”

In closing, Tutor expressed appreciation for her loved ones, notably her mother, Lisa, her aunt, Ellen, and her grandmother, Marie. “Through their power, their perseverance, their adore and kindness, they confirmed me what it really usually means to be a potent woman,” she explained, “and I will eternally be grateful.” 

Sherri Crump

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