Ira Millstein Honored by Columbia Engineering School
Ira M. Millstein, senior associate dean for corporate governance, was awarded the inaugural Samuel Johnson Medal for Distinguished Achievement by the Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association. Millstein is a 1947 graduate of the school.
The award recognizes an individual “who has significantly advanced his or her chosen field of endeavor, demonstrated exceptional leadership in that field or has contributed in an enduring way to the public good.”
Millstein, who is the namesake of Yale SOM’s Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance, was cited for his contributions to the fields of corporate governance, antitrust law, and government regulation, as well as his civic commitments, including his work as a key adviser to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Central Park Conservancy, and as chairman of the New York State Commission on Public Authority Reform.
In his acceptance speech at the awards dinner held on November 12, Millstein joked, “My major gift to the reputation of the Columbia School of Engineering was not to become an engineer. In addition, had I become an engineer, I surely would not have been honored with any kind of medal.”
Although Millstein quickly discovered that he was not destined for a career in engineering, he said his engineering training taught him a process for how to think about and solve problems to make a system work better. Millstein, who is also a graduate of Columbia Law School, recounted how the engineering process helped form the foundation of his law career, his early work in corporate governance and analyzing the corporate system, and how it still informs this work today.
“Would I recommend an engineering training to anyone interested in the efficiency of our modern enterprises? Most assuredly,” said Millstein. “They will always need fixing, not just in production and distribution as markets globalize, but more importantly in their leadership and the system by which their managers are selected, incentivized and monitored. There will be no single magic bullets, just constant “fixing” of each and every component of their corporate governance.”