Lawyer and Philanthropist Charlotte Armstrong Passes Away

Mrs. Charlotte Armstrong, 27 April 2011.

Mrs. Charlotte Armstrong, 27 April 2011.

The National Institute of Social Sciences mourns the passing of longtime member and former trustee Charlotte Armstrong, who died on December 8, 2017, at Quarry Hill, Maine, where she lived. She was 90.

Mrs. Armstrong, who earned her bachelor's degree from Radcliffe and a master's from Columbia, went on to earn a law degree from Harvard in the first class to admit women to the Law School. She went on to a distinguished career in law, academia, and philanthropy. At the National Institute, she served for many years as a trustee and on the Executive Committee as a vice president. 

Read a complete obituary here.

Chernow, Shiller and Sovern Receive Gold Medals at November Gala

National Institute President Fred Larsen with Gold Medal Honorees Ron Chernow, Robert J. Shiller and Michael I. Sovern

National Institute President Fred Larsen with Gold Medal Honorees Ron Chernow, Robert J. Shiller and Michael I. Sovern

On Tuesday, November 14, the National Institute of Social Sciences hosted its annual Gold Medal Dinner at a private club in Manhattan. The event honored Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ron Chernow, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert J. Shiller, and Columbia University president emeritus Michael I. Sovern.

The dinner introduced the organization’s new president, Fred Larsen, who succeeded Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr. Mr. Olinger, who led the National Institute for 11 years, was awarded the National Institute’s silver medal in recognition of his many contributions to the organization. Although an injury prevented Mr. Olinger from attending the dinner, he listened to the presentation and thanked the guests via a phone link.

Professor Sovern, who has spent more than half a century at Columbia University as both a teacher and administrator, is credited with helping Columbia heal after the chaos caused by the 1968 student uprising. In his remarks, he noted that this was a difficult time for the liberal arts at American universities.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, himself a Nobel laureate in economics, introduced Professor Shiller, who teaches at Yale, as “one of my great heroes.” Professor Krugman noted “how beautiful, how elegant Bob's work has been over the years.”

In accepting his medal, Professor Shiller, who jointly received the 2013 Nobel Prize in economic sciences, emphasized the “unity of knowledge” and placed his own work into a wider context. “The human mind is trained to understand through narrative,” he said.

Mr. Chernow is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Washington: A Life:” and “Hamilton,” which inspired the hit Broadway musical, among other works. His most recent biography, “Grant,” which was released in October, has been recognized as one of the most important books of 2017.

Mr. Chernow noted that “we are in a moment in history when we’re at war with ourselves.” Discussing the controversy about Confederate war memorials, he noted that it was “regrettable that southern identity is wrapped up in these symbols” and that “it’s time to take them down.”

One of the country’s oldest honorary societies, the National Institute of Social Sciences presents Gold Medals to those who have distinguished themselves in a wide array of professional fields and have made significant contributions to humanity. It has hosted a Gold Medal dinner annually since 1913. A complete list of previous Gold Medal recipients is available at the National Institute’s website.

Board of Trustees Elects New Leadership

 

The Board of Trustees of the National Institute of Social Sciences is pleased to announce that Frederick R. Larsen, a managing director at Oppenheimer & Co., has been elected as its new president.

Richard Dyke Benjamin was elected as treasurer. Kent Barwick, Joan K. Davidson, Thomas F. Pike, Nicholas A. Robinson and William H. Told, Jr. were reelected as vice presidents, and Gracey Stoddard was reelected secretary.

“I am delighted to take the reins of this great organization with such experienced and enthusiastic fellow officers to guide and assist me,” says Mr Larsen. “The energy and promise I have seen among the members of this organization are exciting.”

Mr. Larsen succeeds Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr., who remains one of the organization’s trustees.

Mr. Larsen is managing director at Oppenheimer & Co., where he runs the transportation and logistics investment banking practice. He has over 27 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and capital raising across multiple sectors. He has an A.B. (cum laude) from Princeton University in politics and an M.B.A. from the Columbia Business School with Beta Gamma Sigma honors.

Mr. Benjamin is a managing director at Axiom Capital Management in New York. Previously, he was a director of Lazard Asset Management. Mr. Benjamin is a project consultant for AKA Strategy, a strategic advisor to not-for-profit organizations, and an advisor and board member for several philanthropic and religious organizations. He holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

About the National Institute of Social Sciences
Established in 1912, the National Institute of Social Sciences (socialsciencesinstitute.org) is an honorary society of Americans dedicated by service and philanthropy to the public good and joined together to recognize and celebrate those who have achieved at the highest level. In addition to presenting its Gold Medals each year, the National Institute makes grants to graduate students in the social sciences and has a vibrant chapter in Palm Beach, Florida.

Ron Chernow, Robert J. Shiller and Michael I. Sovern to Receive Gold Honor Medals on November 14

Ron Chernow, Robert J. Shiller and Michael I. Sovern

Ron Chernow, Robert J. Shiller and Michael I. Sovern

The National Institute of Social Sciences will honor three distinguished Americans--author and biographer Ron Chernow, economist and Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller, and Columbia University president emeritus Michael I. Sovern--at the 103rd Gold Medal Dinner on Tuesday, November 14, in New York City.

Ron Chernow’s bestselling books include The House of Morgan, winner of the National Book Award; The Warburgs, which won the George S. Eccles Prize; The Death of the Banker; Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Washington: A Life, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography; and Alexander Hamilton, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and adapted into the award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton. Chernow is a past president of PEN, has received eight honorary doctoral degrees, and was awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal. His newest book, Grant, is scheduled to be published in October 2017.

Robert J. Shiller is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, and professor of finance and a fellow at the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. In 2013, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen. Since 1980, he has been a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1991, he co-founded the firm Case Shiller Weiss, which produced the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, now published by Standard & Poor’s. He has been vice president of the American Economic Association (2005), president of the Eastern Economic Association (2006-07), and president of the American Economic Association (2016).

Michael I. Sovern is president emeritus of Columbia University and Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He joined the  Columbia law faculty in 1957, served as chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty (1968-69); dean of the law school (1970-79); university provost (1979-80); and university president (1980-93). He has served as chairman of Sotheby's and president of the Shubert Foundation. Sovern has been a mediator between the New York Transit Authority and the Transport Workers Union, as well as between New York City and its firefighters and policemen. He has been a consultant to Time magazine and the Ford Foundation. 

The National Institute has presented the Gold Honor Medals annually since 1913 to distinguished Americans who have significantly contributed to the improvement of society. Previous honorees include four former U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court justices and other members of the judiciary, six former U.S. Secretaries of State, as well numerous luminaries in academia, law, government, education, philanthropy, the arts, medicine, science, and industry.

About the National Institute of Social Sciences
Established in 1912, the National Institute of Social Sciences is an honorary society of Americans dedicated by service and philanthropy to the public good and joined together to recognize and celebrate those who have achieved at the highest level. In addition to presenting the Gold Honor Medals each year, the National Institute makes grants to graduate students in the social sciences, and has a vibrant chapter in Palm Beach, Florida.

For information about the National Institute or the Gold Medal Dinner, please contact the National Institute's office at (212) 831-0560 or natins2@verizon.net.

Bruce Stillman Headlines National Institute's Annual Luncheon

Dr. Bruce Stillman at the Issues Discussion Luncheon (Credit: Michael Dames/National Institute of Social Sciences)

Dr. Bruce Stillman at the Issues Discussion Luncheon (Credit: Michael Dames/National Institute of Social Sciences)

The National Institute of Social Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest honorary societies, welcomed 70 guests to its annual Issues Discussion Luncheon on Monday, June 5. The luncheon, which was held in midtown Manhattan, is the major event in the National Institute’s spring calendar.

Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr., the National Institute’s president, welcomed the guests, noting that this event marked the 26th year that the National Institute has held an issues discussion luncheon in New York City.

The luncheon program began with brief remarks from Dr. Zachary Cooper and Mr. Hirokazu Shirado, a previous and the current recipient of a National Institute’s Seed Grant. Dr. Cooper, who earned his doctorate at Princeton and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, noted that the Seed Grant was "hugely important in completing my work." Mr. Shirado, who is completing his degree in Yale's Sociology Department, credited his Seed Grant with "keeping my studies going."

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The keynote speaker was Dr. Bruce Stillman, the president and chief executive officer of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who discussed the rise of gene-editing techniques and their implications for the modern world.

"We are in the middle of a scientific revolution," Dr. Stillman said.

Through artificial selection, "humans have been intervening in the way species look for a long, long time.” But the development of new gene-editing techniques, including CRISPR-Cas9, has raised new possibilities and questions. "Secondary effects are now the reason people are hesitant about gene editing," he said.

This explosion of new knowledge means that scientific literacy is more important than ever. Yet, Dr. Stillman worried that science faced new threats in today’s political environment. “Scientific education in some parts of the country is being suppressed,” he said.

About the National Institute of Social Sciences
Established in 1912, the National Institute of Social Sciences (www.socialsciencesinstitute.org) is an honorary society of Americans dedicated by service and philanthropy to the public good and to honoring those who have achieved at the highest level. Since its founding, the National Institute has presented its Gold Honor Medals to distinguished Americans, established a vibrant chapter in Palm Beach, Florida, and made grants to graduate students in the social sciences.

 

Kaplan Fund Makes Grant to National Institute

Joan K. Davidson (Credit: Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Joan K. Davidson (Credit: Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

The National Institute of Social Sciences is pleased to announce that it has received a generous grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund (www.jmkfund.org), a New York-based philanthropic foundation known for its innovative support of the environment, preservation, the arts, and civil liberties.

The grant, which will be used to provide general operating support for the National Institute, was recommended by Joan K. Davidson, who is a member of the National Institute’s Board of Trustees. From 1977 to 1993, Mrs. Davidson was president of the Kaplan Fund, which was established by her father in 1945. Now the Fund’s president emeritus and a trustee, she is a widely respected advocate and supporter of philanthropic causes in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

“Everyone at the National Institute of Social Sciences is enormously grateful to Joan and to the J.M. Kaplan Fund for this wonderful show of support,” said Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr., the National Institute’s president. “This grant will help the National Institute continue its important work of honoring and celebrating the achievements of extraordinary Americans.”

 

About The National Institute of Social Sciences

Established in 1912, the National Institute of Social Sciences (www.socialsciencesinstitute.org) is an honorary society of Americans dedicated by service and philanthropy to the public good and joined together to recognize and celebrate those who have achieved at the highest level. Since its founding, the National Institute has presented Gold Medals to distinguished honorees, established a vibrant chapter in Palm Beach, Florida, and made grants to graduate students in the social sciences.

 

Bruce Stillman to Discuss "Changing Human Genes" at National Institute of Social Sciences' Issues Discussion Luncheon on Monday, June 5th

Dr. Bruce Stillman, President and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Dr. Bruce Stillman, President and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Bruce Stillman, the president and chief executive officer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, will speak at the annual Issues Discussion Luncheon of the National Institute of Social Sciences on Monday, June 5th, in Manhattan.

Dr. Stillman, whose research focuses on how chromosomes are duplicated in cells, will discuss "Changing Human Genes: Choices for Humanity," focusing on CRISPR-Cas9, a new technique that allows geneticists to modify genes in human embryos. CRISPR holds the potential to alter the human genome with enormous consequences for the future of the human race.

A native of Australia, Dr. Stillman earned his a B.S. degree with honors at the University of Sydney and a Ph.D. from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. He moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in 1979 and joined the scientific staff in 1981. Dr. Stillman was director of the Laboratory's Cancer Center from 1992 to 2016. In 1994, he succeeded Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson as director of the Laboratory and became president in 2003. 

Dr. Stillman is a member of the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received five honorary doctorates. 

Tickets to the luncheon are $100. Seating is limited. Please contact the National Institute at (212) 831-0560 for information.

About The National Institute of Social Sciences
Established in 1912, the National Institute of Social Sciences (www.socialsciencesinstitute.org) is an honorary society of Americans dedicated by service and philanthropy to the public good and joined together to recognize and celebrate those who have achieved at the highest level. Since its founding, the National Institute has presented Gold Medals to distinguished honorees, established a vibrant chapter in Palm Beach, Florida, and made grants to graduate students in the social sciences

Barbara Tober to be Honored at "8 Over 80" Gala

Barbara Tober at the 2014 Giving Back Foundation Gala in New York.

Barbara Tober at the 2014 Giving Back Foundation Gala in New York.

The National Institute of Social Sciences congratulates trustee Barbara Tober and her husband, Donald, who will be honored for their philanthropy by the New Jewish Home at the fourth annual “Eight Over 80” benefit. The gala, which celebrates “the creativity and significance of the over-80 generation,” will be held on Tuesday, April 4, at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan.

Other honorees include designer Iris Apfel, actress, dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, television producer Norman Lear, chef Jacques Pépin, and businessman/philantropist Morris W. Offit.

For more information, or tickets, visit the Eight over Eighty website: http://8over80.org.