Reunion

May 24 – June 4, 2021

Please see the below event descriptions to access recordings of our 2021 event programming!

The Columbia University School of General Studies is bringing Reunion Weekend 2021 to you! Although we can’t be together on campus this year, we invite you to join us for several engaging and exciting virtual opportunities. Enjoy conversations, updates, and performances that are open to alumni, students, and friends of the School.

Thank you for staying connected to GS. As always, we are thinking of you and your loved ones. For more information about Reunion, please contact the GS Office of Development and Alumni Relations at gsalumni@columbia.edu or 212-853-2447.

Schedule of Events

Welcome Gathering with the Dean

Monday, May 24
6 - 7 p.m. EDT

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Join Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch '90 as she welcomes alumni and friends to Reunion 2021. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with peers from their class years in breakout rooms, hear updates from the School, and meet current student leaders who will discuss their GS experience.

A Celebration of the Performing Arts at Columbia

Monday, May 24
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. EDT

Join us for our annual Reunion performance event as we celebrate Columbia GS being home to some of the world's greatest performing artists. Viewers will enjoy performances by the Columbia Ballet Collaborative and Columbia Repertory Ballet, followed by a conversation with Keith Roberts '17GS, '20BUS, Director of Repertoire at American Ballet Theatre and Sasha Gorrell '10GS, former member of Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Columbia artists will reflect on what it means to transition from the stage to the classroom, and how they have weathered the last year without live audiences.

About Keith Roberts '17GS, '20BUS
Keith Roberts is currently Director of Repertoire at American Ballet Theatre. He earned his MBA at Columbia Business School and his BA in economics-philosophy from Columbia's School of General Studies. Prior to his work as Director, Mr. Roberts worked as a répétiteur for Twyla Tharp Dance, setting Tharp’s work on her behalf across the US and internationally. In 2000, he joined the Broadway cast of Fosse and originated his role in Tharp’s Movin’ Out, receiving both Tony and Astaire Award nominations. Previously, Mr. Roberts was a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

About Sasha Gorrell '10GS
Dr. Sasha Gorrell danced with Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre for a combined 18 years. Following retirement from dance, Gorrell received a BA in psychology from Columbia University School of General Studies and an MA from New York University. She earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University at Albany in 2018, after which she joined the UCSF team as a T32 postdoctoral scholar within the NIMH-funded Clifford Attkisson Clinical Services Research Training Program. As an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Gorrell’s clinical focus is in the treatment of adolescents with restrictive eating disorders, and specifically in supporting their recovery in family-based treatment. 

On the Frontlines: Nursing Leadership in Pandemics

Tuesday, May 25
2 - 3 p.m. EDT

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Nurses are on the frontlines of pandemic responses worldwide, but their stories, their knowledge, and their public trust are often overlooked and underutilized in high-level policy and decision-making. A working group of Columbia faculty from public health, humanities, public policy, nursing, and oral history came together three years ago to address this issue by doing in-depth oral histories of frontline nurses from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and continued their work by including the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak in New York City. At this event, you'll hear the stories of frontline nurses and midwives and learn what they can teach us about pandemic response.

Speakers Include

  • Jennifer Dohrn, DNP, MS ('05NRS, '85NRS), Assistant Dean of the Office of Global Initiatives at the Columbia School of Nursing
  • Wilmot James, Senior Research Scholar at Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) 
  • Mary Marshall Clark, Director, Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR)
  • Victoria Rosner '90CC, '99GSAS, Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia GS and Adjunct Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Master Class in Dance with Alicia Graf Mack ‘03GS of The Juilliard School

Tuesday, May 25
6 - 7 p.m. EDT 

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Move gracefully and joyfully alongside Alicia Graf Mack '03GS, Dean and Director of the Dance Division at The Juilliard School, in this virtual dance class designed for all ages. Guests will enjoy a Q&A with Alicia at the end of the session.

About Alicia Graf Mack '03GS
Alicia Graf Mack began her inaugural season as Director of Dance at The Juilliard School in the fall of 2018 after enjoying a distinguished career as a leading dancer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, before which she was a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem under the tutelage of Arthur Mitchell, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Ms. Graf Mack has danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, and Alicia Keys. As a dance educator, Ms. Graf Mack was an assistant professor of dance at Webster University in St. Louis, and on faculty at Washington University and University of Houston. She is co-founder of D(n)A Arts Collective, an initiative created to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives, and the proud mother of two beautiful children, Jordan and Laila Mack. Ms. Graf Mack graduated magna cum laude with honors in history from Columbia’s School of General Studies and holds an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2008, she received the Columbia University Medal for Excellence, which is awarded to an alumna or alumnus at Commencement for their outstanding record in scholarship, public service, and/or professional life. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Visitors for the School of General Studies.

Voices from Uganda: Delivering High-Value Healthcare in a Low-Resource Setting

Thursday, May 27
12 - 1 p.m. EDT 

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Postbac Premed Program alumnus Dr. Ken Schaefle '09GS curates a selection of recent video interviews with the Ugandan healthcare providers he works with through a unique partnership between Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a remote government hospital in Kisoro, Uganda. Through the voices of village health workers and the local hospital director, Dr. Schaefle will present a narrative of the challenges of, and hope for, providing high-value healthcare in a low-resource setting.

About Dr. Ken Schaefle '09GS
Dr. Schaefle is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and spends three months a year in Uganda working with local healthcare providers. He is the editor of Reasoning Without Resources, a 1500-page global health textbook published this spring by CFHI press. Before attending Columbia University, Ken spent over a decade living in Amsterdam where he worked with a theater company. After deciding he needed a change, a vacation to South America led him to a chance meeting with a fellow traveler who had just graduated from a postbac premed program. At 35 years old and already considering making a switch into medicine, Ken decided to apply to Columbia. After completing his courses, he became a research assistant at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and worked on a large database of transplant surgeries. From there, he attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine and graduated in 2014, after which he completed his internal medicine residency at Lenox Hill, where he served as Chief Resident of their HIV track. In 2017, Ken returned to Einstein Montefiore as a Global Health Fellow, and in 2019 became an Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Inside the Newsroom with Craig Wilson '95GS, Senior Broadcast Producer, CBS News

Tuesday, June 1
12 - 1 p.m. EDT

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Three-time Emmy Award winner Craig Wilson '95GS, Senior Broadcast Producer for CBS News, will host an engaging conversation alongside Suvro Banerji '12JRN. The two producers will reflect on a year of covering unprecedented world events. 

About Craig Wilson '95GS
As a producer and writer, Craig has contributed to nearly every broadcast at CBS News in his nearly three-decade-long career at the network. Since February of 2020, he has produced the CBS Weekend News. When the pandemic struck, he took the broadcast "on the road"—producing it with the anchors, producers, and facilities at 12 CBS stations and affiliates across the country. A different one each week—for three months. Craig has earned three Emmy Awards, and is also the winner of two Writer’s Guild of America Awards for best news writing—the first in 2004 for CBS News "Up To The Minute" coverage of the US-led invasion of Iraq; the second for a 2016 CBS News 48 Hours Special Report on the death of Mohammed Ali. He’s also a Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Winner. Craig’s journalism career proudly began as a paper boy for his home-town Medicine Hat News in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

About Suvro Banerji '12JRN
Suvro Banerji works as a field producer for CBS News, covering stories for CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News. He’s been part of the network’s coverage of several breaking news stories including the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the Las Vegas massacre, the Parkland high school and Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael, the Manchester bombing, Black Lives Matter protests, and the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations—with a focus on underserved communities across America.  He is also one of the network’s lead producers on the Southern US border, covering immigration from both sides for the last four years. A first-generation Indian-American who is fluent in Hindi and Bengali, Suvro is a proud graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied broadcast news.

Professional Athletes in the Ivy League

Wednesday, June 2
8 - 9 p.m. EDT

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As a home for nontraditional students, Columbia's School of General Studies stands out as the college of choice for world-class athletes seeking an Ivy League education. This exciting panel will feature several athletes in conversation, including figure skater Sasha Cohen '16GS, a two-time Olympian, three-time World Medalist, Grand Prix Final champion, and 2006 U.S. Champion. Panelists will reflect on what a Columbia education meant to them, and how it shaped their current path. 

About Sasha Cohen '16GS
Sasha Cohen works in investment management as a disruptive change analyst at Morgan Stanley, and is a podcast host for the United States Olympic Committee. In addition to her numerous awards and and medals, she was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2016. Following her competitive career, Sasha worked as an “Inside Edition” correspondent at the Academy Awards, an Olympic Analyst for Good Morning America and Yahoo Sports, and a speaker at Columbia University’s TEDx conference. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Visitors for the School of General Studies.

Matt Duran '20GS
Matt is a former Third Baseman for the New York Yankees. He was drafted in the 4th round in the 2011 First Year Player Draft and played at various NYY Minor League Affiliates from 2011 to 2016. Upon his retirement from professional baseball, Matt went on to study mathematics and economics at Columbia’s School of General Studies, graduating in 2019. Matt rejoined the New York Yankees in the first half of 2020 in Baseball Operations, and following the conclusion of that internship decided to shift his career path to one in computer science. Matt is now pursuing his master’s degree in computer science at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with an expected graduation date of May 2022.

Lauren McFall Gardner '08GS
Lauren McFall Gardner was the team captain of the bronze medal-winning US Synchronized Swimming team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Prior to that she was a 16-year member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids where she won numerous Junior and Senior National Championships. Following the Olympics, Lauren had a decade-long career on Wall Street, focused on electronic trading and data solutions for financial markets in both Fixed Income and Foreign Exchange. Currently, Lauren is a sales executive with Lander Analytics, a NY-based consulting firm. Lauren holds a BA in political science, with a concentration in international relations, from Columbia’s School of General Studies. She lives in Sacramento, California with her husband (Olympian and gold medalist for Men’s Indoor Volleyball, Gabe Gardner) and their four children.

Timothy Goebel '10GS
As a competitive figure skater, Timothy Goebel was the first athlete to land three quadruple jumps in competition. He was a US National Champion in 2001, a World Silver Medalist in 2002 and 2003, and earned an Olympic Bronze Medal in 2002. He is 2010 graduate of Columbia’s School of General Studies and he earned his MBA from NYU’s Stern Business School. Since leaving competitive skating, Timothy has worked at Neilsen and Wavemaker Global, and he currently works at Google where is a Strategic Partnerships Development Manager. Timothy sits on the Advisory Board of Figure Skating in Harlem. 

Celebrating Dual Degree Programs at GS: Spotlight on International Higher Education

Thursday, June 3
1 - 2 p.m. EDT

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Join Lisa Rosen-Metsch '90GS, Dean of the Columbia University School of General Studies, and Stéphanie Balme, Dean of the Sciences Po Undergraduate College, as they reflect on the origins of the groundbreaking Dual BA Program between these two institutions. Hear about highlights from the Program’s first ten years, what the future holds for both institutions, and current campus developments from both Columbia and Sciences Po. Guests will also hear current students discuss their experiences in the Program, and what it means to undertake a nontraditional international undergraduate education.

About Stéphanie Balme
Stéphanie Balme has been the program director of Sciences Po’s research group “Law, Justice and Society in China” since 2006, and is the scientific advisor for the “China and East Asia” concentration at PSIA/Sciences Po. She was also a Fall 2014 Visiting Professor at the Columbia University School of Law, and has been both a Visiting Professor and Research Associate at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 2003–2006, and at Tsinghua University Faculty of Law from 2006-2012. Balme obtained her PhD with high honors from Sciences Po Paris in December 2000 and completed her post-doc position at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2001. She obtained her qualification as PhD Supervisor and full professor under the academic French system from Sciences Po School of Law in 2016, and is one of the leading experts on Sino-French relations. She is among the founding members and now serves as vice president of the European China Law Studies Association (ECLS) based in Hamburg (Germany) as well as a board member of the GIS/CNRS Asia Pacific Group (Paris), and has been a consultant for international organizations and think tanks such as UNDP, the European Union, and World Bank. She has taught in France, Belgium, Mainland China, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada (UQAM and UBC), and New Delhi (Ashoka University), and has been published in French, English, and Chinese.

Veterans Reception: The Role of Military Veterans in Academia and Society

Thursday, June 3
6 - 7 p.m. EDT

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Gather with alumni who have served their country in the armed forces, and join us for a conversation with Professor Keren Yarhi-Milo '03GS, Director of Columbia's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and Jason Dempsey '03GSAS, '06GSAS, '08GSAS, Executive Director of the Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration (CVTI). This event is hosted by the School of General Studies, CVTI, and the Saltzman Institute. 

About Jason Dempsey '03GSAS, '06GSAS, '08GSAS
One of the nation's leading experts on military demographics and civilian-military relations, Dempsey has served as the Senior Advisor to CVTI since 2017, and as its Interim Executive Director since 2020. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and holds a PhD in political science from Columbia University. During his military service, he deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq.

Between his tours to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2012, Dempsey spent two years in the White House, where he initially served as the First Lady’s White House Fellow and helped take the broad concept of military family support and turn it into Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to support our service members and their families. Among other initiatives, he also created and led an interagency data group to increase information sharing and analysis among government agencies seeking to improve transition services and to increase post-service employment opportunities for America’s veterans.

These experiences bringing together diverse individuals and organizations in support of veterans and service members—particularly in their transition to civilian society—positioned Dempsey to provide expert guidance to CVTI as it worked to aggressively establish and expand programming after its initial launch. Today, the Center hosts three free online MOOCs available to veterans nationwide, designed to facilitate the successful transition of active duty service members and veterans to postsecondary education, to provide guidance to help veterans succeed in the civilian workforce, and to teach strategies for academic success in navigating the transition from military service to the college classroom. 

About Keren Yarhi-Milo '03GS
Keren Yarhi-Milo is the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies in the Political Science Department and the School of International and Public Affairs. She is also the Director of the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Her research and teaching focus on international relations and foreign policy, with a particular specialization in international security, including foreign policy decision-making, interstate communication and crisis bargaining, psychology, intelligence, and US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Professor Yarhi-Milo’s first book, Knowing The Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence Organizations, and Assessments of Intentions in International Relations, received the 2016 Furnnis Award for best book in the field of international security and is co-winner of the 2016 DPLST Book Prize, Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association. Her second book, Who Fights for Reputation? The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict, also received two awards: the 2019 Best Book Award on Foreign Policy from the American Political Science Association and the 2020 Biennial Best Book on Foreign Policy from the International Studies Association.

Before joining the faculty at Columbia University, she was an associate professor (with tenure) of politics and international affairs at Princeton University’s Politics Department and the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. She was previously a post-doc fellow at the Harvard University Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a pre-doc fellow at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. Yarhi-Milo has worked at the Mission of Israel to the United Nations, as well as served in the Israeli Defense Forces, Intelligence Branch. Her dissertation received the Kenneth Waltz Award for the best dissertation in the field of International Security and Arms Control in 2010. She also has received awards for the study of political science from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Arthur Ross Foundation, and the Abram Morris Foundation. Yarhi-Milo holds a PhD and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and graduated summa cum laude from Columbia's School of General Studies with a BA in political science.