Columbia Athletics will endow a new award in honor of Barnard Dean of Studies Karen Blank beginning in Spring 2013, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education and Patricia E. Grieve, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor in the Humanities/Faculty Athletics Representative announced today. The award will be given out at Columbia Athletics' annual Varsity C Celebration each spring 

 "Karen Blank was an absolutely invaluable part of the Columbia and Barnard campus communities for nearly 30 years," Dr. Murphy said.  "As faculty athletics representative for Columbia's athletics program Karen's passion for equity and diversity was exemplary.  We are thrilled to be able to endow an award that will exemplify the enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment to academic and athletic excellence that Karen has demonstrated during her tenure. We thank our fabulous donors for their contributions in making this award possible."

Blank began her career with Columbia and Barnard 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. 

In 1993, Blank was named Barnard's 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.

"There is no stronger advocate for students and no one more deserving of this honor than Dean Blank," said Barnard President Debora L. Spar. "This award is a fitting tribute to a woman who inspired generations of young people to reach greater heights.  In addition to her years at Columbia, Karen has been a beloved member of the Barnard community for nearly 20 years and the students she advised were buoyed by her devoted support and encouragement. The Barnard community takes enormous pride in Dean Blank's work and legacy."

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.

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. A grant from the Blank Award Endowment shall be allocated each year to the winning student-athlete's varsity team.

"Karen Blank has been a treasured colleague throughout the course of her career at Columbia University and Barnard College. Her dedication to our students, and our student-athletes and her fellow faculty members is second to none," Professor Grieve said. "We are proud to recognize Karen for her incredible contribution to the academic and personal development of countless Columbia and Barnard women over the years."

The first Columbia Athletics Karen Blank Award shall be presented at the 92nd Annual Varsity C Celebration on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in Levien Gymnasium.