Former Columbia Athletics Faculty Athletics Representative and Barnard College dean of studies, Karen Blank, passed away on December 31, 2013 from complications from cancer.

 "We are all deeply saddened by the loss of former Barnard College Dean of Studies Karen Blank," Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education said.  "Karen was an absolutely invaluable part of the Columbia University and Barnard College campus communities for nearly 30 years. A true Columbia Family, Karen and her husband Jim Milligan, the former Dean of Admissions at the Columbia Law School, touched so many facets of the Columbia University Community. The enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment to equity and diversity Karen demonstrated during her tenure as our Faculty Athletics Representative will be an inspiration to us all for years to come.”

Blank began her career with Columbia University and Barnard College as Columbia College's associate dean for student affairs in 1984.  Blank was responsible for a wide variety of advisory functions for the College's undergraduates, including academic advising and student discipline.  She also chaired the College Committee on Academic Standing. 

“Karen Blank was a treasured colleague throughout the course of her career at Columbia University and Barnard College. In endowing an athletics award in her honor in 2013, we were proud to recognize Karen for her incredible contribution to the academic, athletic, and personal development of countless Columbia and Barnard students over the years,” said Patricia E. Grieve, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor in the Humanities/Faculty Athletics Representative.  “Karen was greatly loved and will be greatly missed, but the athletics award in her honor will ensure that she will be remembered for generations to come.”

In 1993, Blank was named Barnard College dean of studies.  In that post Blank was responsible for the advising of all students on their academic programs; she also served as the advisor to Barnard's honor board and chaired the Faculty Committee on Programs and Academic Standing.

A strong campus advocate for the athletics program, Blank served as the University's Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) to the NCAA for more than 10 years.

“There are no words to adequately express how much Karen meant to her colleagues and the University,” said Ken Torrey, Associate Athletics Director for Physical Education and Chair of Physical Education.  “It was my privilege to have had Karen Blank as a colleague, mentor, and wonderful friend for over 30 years.  I witnessed the impact Karen had on the lives of so many friends and students during our shared tenure.  She was truly a treasure of our campus community.”

Columbia Athletics endowed a new award in honor of Barnard Dean of Studies Karen Blank beginning in Spring 2013.  The award will be given out at Columbia Athletics' annual Varsity C Celebration each spring.

The new award will be presented to the female student-athlete enrolled in Barnard College, who exemplifies the qualities of academic success, athletic achievement, strong sporting behavior and commitment to community.

The inaugural Karen Blank Award was presented to Katarina Kovacevic ’13BC, a senior on the women's tennis team. Kovacevic played a key role in the Lions' 2013 co-Ivy League Championship, the first in program history. The Forest Hills, N.Y. native played to an 8-4 record in dual matches this spring, including going 4-0 as the No. 5 in the Columbia lineup in 2013. 

For more information on contributing to the Karen Blank Award Endowment, contact Corey Aronstam, Executive Director of Athletics Development at 212-851-7458 or