Sixty Years at Columbia University

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Columbia University began the second half of the 20th century in decline, bottoming out with the student riots of 1968. But by the close of the century, the institution had regained its stature as one of the greatest universities in the world. According to the New York Times, "If any one person is responsible for Columbia's recovery, it is surely Michael Sovern." In his memoir, An Improbable Life: My Sixty Years at Columbia and Other Adventures, Sovern, who served as the university's president from 1980 to 1993, addresses key issues in academia, such as affordability, affirmative action, teaching and research, tenure, and government funding. Sovern also reports on his many off-campus adventures, including helping the victims of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, stepping into the chairmanship of Sotheby's, responding to a strike by New York City's firemen, and chairing the Commission on Integrity in Government.


Michael Sovern

Comments [3]

Lenni Sanders from Texas

As the first ex Mrs. Michael Sovern, I eagerly bought his memoirs,
"An Improbable Life." Promised by my three children that it would not include personal information, I was startled and upset to see a great deal of my early relationship with Mike detailed on several pages. And my first name, Lenore, was misspelled throughout the book. Mike has apologized for not consulting me and I do admit I enjoyed the book. I have never questioned his brilliance and ability to put pen to paper. In addition to my musical background, I, too, am a writer currently working on my own life story which most people find as fascinating as is Mike Sovern's. If he is included in some chapters, I most probably will let him know before it is published. Lenni Sanders, Sugar Land, Texas

Mar. 17 2014 09:41 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Mr. Sovern didn't mention that the Audubon Ballroom now houses the The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Does Columbia Univ. have any role in the Center?

Mar. 11 2014 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The SATs didn't eliminate the essay--they just made it optional.

Mar. 11 2014 12:17 PM

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