NEW YORK - Senior Jesse Vella was presented with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Watch award as Columbia capped the 2011-12 Academic Year with the 91st Annual Varsity C Celebration, on Tuesday, May 1.

Donated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the watch is presented annually to the senior male student-athlete who has achieved the best cumulative academic record through the fall semester immediately preceding the date of the dinner, and who has been awarded the Varsity C for at least two seasons.

A four-year letterwinner in men's soccer, Vella has been making his mark at Columbia on and off the pitch. A stalwart on the Lions' back line, Vella played in every match for the Lions in the past two seasons and was a key contributor in Columbia's challenge for the league title in the 2011 season.

An Earth and Environmental Engineering major, he has been named to the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean's List six times. He is a member of the Columbia 4.0 club and has earned Academic All-Ivy League honors. In his final semester, Vella has achieved a 3.93 cumulative grade point average and will graduate with honors this May.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Watch, also known as the Varsity C Watch, has been presented for more than 50 years to Columbia's ranking male scholar-athlete. It was donated by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States from 1952 through 1960, and Supreme Commander in Chief of Allied forces in Europe during World War II, soon after he arrived on the Columbia campus in 1948 to being a four-year term as Columbia's president.

"The guy is rock solid! We are extremely proud of Jesse and our entire graduating class of players. They have been an absolute pleasure to work with as I look to building upon our relationships for a lifetime," said Columbia Men's Soccer Head Coach Kevin Anderson.