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September 24, 2007


Eight Alumni to Receive Townsend Harris Medals for Outstanding Postgraduate Achievement

NEW YORK, September 24, 2007 – The Alumni Association of The City College of New York will present its 60th John H. Finley Award to Emmy Award-winning actress, writer and activist Ruby Dee. The presentation will be made at the Association’s 127th Annual Dinner, Thursday, October 18, at The New York Marriott Marquis.

The award, named for CCNY’s third President, is presented annually to New Yorkers who have given exemplary service to their city.  Ms. Dee, an iconic figure in the performing arts, has lent her powerful voice to various movements in the quest for human rights.

Previous Finley honorees include: former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; civil rights leader Roy Wilkins; playwrights Neil Simon and Terrence McNally; realtor and philanthropist Jack Rudin; actor Tony Randall; actor/activist Harry Belafonte; opera diva Beverly Sills, and artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

In addition, the CCNY Alumni Association will confer Townsend Harris Medals on eight distinguished alumni for outstanding post-graduate achievements:

  • Dr. Zeev Dagan, M.E. ’77, M.M.E. ’78, CCNY Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, who helped lead the College’s academic resurgence.
  • Roy Eaton, ’50, international concert pianist and winner of the first Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award.
  • Barry H. Garfinkel, ’50, an acclaimed lawyer who heads the international litigation and arbitration practice for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
  • Clyde E. Haberman, ’70, a former foreign correspondent whose “NYC” column in The New York Times reflects New York’s humanity and vitality.
  • Carol J. Weissman Kurth, B.S. Architecture ’80, B.ARCH. ’81, a dedicated architect who has encouraged and inspired talented young women to enter the architectural profession.
  • Matthys P. Levy, ’51, award-winning structural engineer, author of books on structures, earthquakes and global warming and Chairman Emeritus of Weidlinger Associates Consulting Engineers.
  • Dr. Harold L. Newmark, ’39, world-renowned researcher in the fields of pharmaceutical sciences, nutrition and cancer prevention.
  • Martin R. Pollner, ’57, a distinguished lawyer who served several U.S. Presidents, helped develop civil rights legislation and directed various agencies focused on terrorism and organized crime.

Jane Tillman Irving ’69, a leading TV and radio journalist who has excelled as a reporter, talk-show host and news writer for WCBS-AM radio, will present the Harris medals. The medals were established in 1933 and are named for CCNY’s founder. Ms. Irving was a Harris medalist last year.

The program also includes the presentation of 75 scholarships and cash awards to deserving students. In addition, CCNY President Dr. Gregory H. Williams will talk on the renaissance of The City College, which is marking its 160th anniversary this year. 

Tickets for the dinner, which cost $130 per person, are available through the Alumni Association office at (212) 234-3000. The New York Marriott Marquis is located at 45th Street and Broadway, Manhattan. A brief bio of 2007 John H. Finley Award recipient Ruby Dee follows:

Ruby Dee

A petite, intelligent actress of nuance and sensitivity, Ruby Dee’s award-winning career has been nothing short of phenomenal.  Ms. Dee grew up in Harlem, where she began her career as a member of the American Negro Theatre.

Her talent was evident from the beginning. She garnered some of the best roles for black women in the 1950s and 1960s and was the first African-American woman to play lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival. 

She won an Obie Award for her portrayal of “Lena” in Athol Fugard’s Boseman and Lena; a Drama Desk Award for her role in Alice Childress’ Wedding Band and an Ace Award for her performance in Eugene O'Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  In 1990, Ms. Dee won an Emmy Award for her performance in the TV production, Decoration Day.

She has appeared in over 50 movies and holds the distinction of having played Jackie Robinson’s wife in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) and, 40 years later, his mother in The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.  Her other film credits include: A Raisin In The Sun (1961), Uptight (1968), Buck And The Preacher (1972), Roots (1978) and Do The Right Thing (1989).

For most of her career, Ms. Dee worked closely with her late husband, Ossie Davis, a distinguished actor in his own right.  Along with Mr. Davis, Ms. Dee was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, received the National Medal of Arts Award and the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Dee’s books include Life Lit by Some Large Vision and With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, co-authored with Mr. Davis.

About The City College of New York

For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 14,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.