Columbia Business School’s Centennial Dinner was a historic evening in more ways than one. The event, which was the 40th installment of the School’s Annual Dinner tradition and commemorated the School’s 100th anniversary, welcomed a record-breaking 1,200 attendees to the Waldorf Astoria on May 2, and raised a total of $7 million — the second-highest amount the event has ever raised — thanks to 217 gifts from across the community and a surprise matching gift by Jerry Speyer ’64, chairman of Tishman Speyer and a member of the School’s Board of Overseers.
As the Centennial Dinner got underway, dinner co-chairs Mark F. Dzialga ’90, managing director of General Atlantic, and Ming Chu Hsu ’92, principal at Alex & Wright Inc., announced that the event had raised a remarkable $3.5 million, including gifts from a record-setting 95 new donors — the most ever to this annual event. Then, during the second half of the program, Mr. Speyer pledged to match the evening’s $3.5 million in honor of Centennial Award honoree Henry R. Kravis ’69, further cementing the Centennial Dinner as a memorable event in the School’s history.
“What a truly momentous occasion,” Dean Glenn Hubbard says of the event. “Thank you to Jerry for his extraordinary contribution, which will help support financial aid, faculty research, and entrepreneurial outreach at the School, and to Mark and Ming for their exceptional leadership of the event. Of course, this tremendous success is truly a result of the generosity of everyone who came to the dinner. For your ongoing dedication to the School, you have my sincerest thanks.”
The Centennial Dinner honored Mr. Kravis, co-founder, co-chairman, and co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., with the Centennial Award to acknowledge his legacy of support for, and outstanding contributions to, the School and to society at large. “[Henry] has proven himself to be an extraordinary pillar of our community,” Dean Hubbard said. “I — and we — owe him an incredible debt of gratitude for his visionary leadership of the School’s Board of Overseers.”
Bruce Greenwald, the Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management and co-director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 25-year history of inspiring and enlightening Business School students. In fact, during the dinner, Dean Hubbard announced that a group of alumni and Greenwald’s friends had pledged to create a professorship and accompanying research fund at Columbia Business School in Greenwald’s name. The Greenwald Professorship will be permanently endowed.
The dinner also honored Shazi Visram ’04, founder and CEO of Happy Family Brands, with the Distinguished Early Achievement Award for her pioneering innovation in the food industry. Her company “provide[s] nutrition to children, comfort to parents, and a new model for doing business in the food industry,” Dean Hubbard said.
“To me, Columbia is literally a magical place. It is the Hogwarts of business schools. It is a place where the alchemy of turning big ideas into reality is a common occurrence,” Visram said upon accepting her award. “The School is truly becoming a hotbed for responsible business and creative problem solvers that are helping take on some of the hardest challenges we face as a world, and I’m so proud to be counted among them.”
More than 160 students attended the Centennial Dinner, including full-time, EMBA, and EMBA-Global students. Also in attendance were more than 60 alumni club leaders, who flew in from all over the world.
Seven of the School’s centers and programs joined the Board of Overseers and 11 benefactor sponsors — those giving $100,000 — to provide significant support of the event.
“Our Centennial has afforded an opportunity for reflection on the many reasons that we, as a community, have to be proud,” Dean Hubbard said. “As the premier bridge between theory and practice, Columbia Business School is well positioned to be the best business school in the world for many years to come.”