Karen Katen (left) and Judith Shapiro

Judith Shapiro and Alan (Ace) Greenberg

Sumner Redstone and Judith Shapiro

It Takes Magic To Put
Barnard Over The Top

Story By Nina Boxer
By Tim Boxer

NNA QUINDLEN Class of ’74 was excited to be back at her alma mater for Barnard College’s 13th annual awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. “They made me what I am today,” said Quindlen, a former New York Times columnist who now writes for Newsweek.

She credits her success as an opinion columnist to her teachers at Barnard who, she said, taught her that “reasoned and well-informed opinions are not only welcome but necessary.”

Barnard, she said, taught her to be unafraid to meet the challenges of life, “I have a degree in unafraid,” she chuckled.

Another graduate, Gayle F. Robinson, was effusive in praise of the school. Now chair of the board of trustees, Robinson said Barnard, located at 3009 Broadway on the Columbia University campus, is the longest running show on Broadway.

“We were on Broadway long before Cats. And it’s harder and harder to get seats. For every one seat available there are eight applicants. We can choose the best and the brightest,” said Robinson, who today is executive director of Global Cash Management and Trade Finance Sales in North America for Citibank.

President Judith Shapiro, who affirmed that Barnard is the most sought after women’s college in the country, presented the Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger Award to Karen Katen, president of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals U.S.

Shapiro praised Katen: “You are Pfizer’s pep pill.”

That reminded us about the story that went around when Pfizer’s miracle drug impacted on a weary population. John and Harry came to their respective homes after a hard day’s work. One wife said, “John, buy Viagra.” The other said, “Hurry Harry, buy Pfizer.”

Shapiro presented Sumner Redstone with the Frederick A.P. Barnard Award, named for the person who helped found the institution, which opened in 1889.

“I’ve always believed,” Redstone said, “that education is not a privilege but a necessity. School taught me to live creatively. Nothing counts but excellence and achievement.”

Redstone is a living example of such credo, having succeeded as chairman and CEO of Viacom, which includes Paramount Pictures and Paramount Television, Blockbuster, MTV, Showtime, Simon & Schuster among other properties.

Dinner chairman John L. Furth, vice chairman of Klingenstein, Fields & Co., investment management, announced that the evening raised $1,050,000 for scholarship support, slightly short of last year’s total.

“Alan Greenberg is an amateur magician,” Quindlen said. “At dinner I am going to ask him to show me how to turn a quarter into a dollar, which should help our endowment fund.”

“Ace” Greenberg, head of Bear Stearns, may be a magician, but in the end it was Redstone who summoned his own magical qualities to conjure up coinage that put the grand total over the top and made this event a record breaker.

Sumner turned to the college president and said, “This can’t be the second best dinner. I’m pledging an additional $60,000.”

The final sum of $1,112,150 raised from the 549 guests still did not satisfy Furth. After all, he is treasurer of the Barnard board of trustees. “I want to remind you,” he said, “that records can be broken, even this one.”  

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