In Remembrance of Alfred Lerner, Columbia University Trustee
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Alfred Lerner, as is the entire Columbia community. Al was so close to Columbia that we feel as though we have lost a member of our family. Although I have only come to know him recently, I enjoyed spending many hours listening to Al recount the fascinating story of his life.
Al’s commitment and love for Columbia spanned more than 50 years. He came to Columbia College in 1951 as an undergraduate student and graduated in 1955. He went on to serve the University in immeasurable ways. In the 80’s, he chaired the Columbia College Board of Visitors for five years. Tireless in his devotion to both the College and the University, he became a University Trustee in 1995.
In his capacity as Trustee, he served as Vice Chair of the Trustees, Vice Chair of the Executive Committee, and Chairman of the Health Sciences Committee. He was recognized and revered by all for his indefatigable spirit, sense of humor, and invaluable directness.
Al was extremely generous to our Columbia family. Seven years ago, he helped change Columbia on a grand scale. He contributed $25 million to establish a new student center that bears his name, Alfred Lerner Hall, which has greatly enriched student life on campus.
Al will be remembered for his analytical mind, unpretentious manner, and as someone to whom everyone listened. His knowledge of finance, healthcare, and education issues was a tremendous asset to Columbia, as was his keen understanding of technology and our pressing needs for space. His ability to comprehend complex, multi-faceted information and distill it into its essence was a gift to us all.
Al loved being a Trustee and played a very critical role for us. Although he had innumerable commitments, he would always arrange his schedule to be in New York for Trustee meetings and important Columbia events. His clear grasp of institutional strategies and needs will be sorely missed.
I have had the opportunity to get to know Al’s wife, Norma, and son, Randy, who is also a Columbia alumnus. On behalf of the University, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Norma, Randy, and Al’s daughter, Nancy and the rest of the family. I would like them all to know how much we share their loss and how much we appreciate Al’s half-century connection with his Alma Mater.