Thomas Alva Edison Professorship Established

Press Release
Office of Public Information, Columbia University

A professorship named for Thomas Alva Edition and devoted to energy research has been established at Columbia University with a gift of $1 million from Con Edison.

It is the first professional chair in the United State named for the inventor. The gift will be made over five years in annual amounts of $200,000.

The announcement was made in New York City by Con Edision at a luncheon celebrating the centennial of electric service in America held in the Great Hall of the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 65 Liberty Street. One hundred years ago, Edison himself turned on the first electric lights powered by the country's first commercially successful generating station, the Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan.

The $1 million gift is one of the first made to The Campaign for Columbia, the University's $400 million, five-year fund-raising effort, which began November 8. The contribution will help meet the drive's largest goal, $136 million for faculty support.

Michael I. Sovern, president of Columbia, said: "We are deeply grateful to Con Edison for its wisdom and foresight in commemorating this very special year with an educational grant of such importance to Columbia, New York, and to our nation. The teaching and research made possible by the Thomas Alva Edision professorship will, I am confident, profoundly affect the course of energy reserach and development in America. This chair is an important investment in the future; we at Columbia are determined that, one hundred years from now, we will be able to say --- as Edison said one hundred years ago, when he brought incandescence to New York -- we have accomplished all that we promised".

Arthur Hauspurg, chief executive officer and chairman of Con Edison, said: "In this centennial year we wanted to do something of lasting significance to honor the memory of Thomas Edison. Insuring adequate energy supplies for the future will require close ties between industry and the academic world. Columbia University is well known for its teaching and research in engineering, business, law, architecture and other academic disciplines which have contributed to the growth of Con Edison since its inception and to the growth of the City of New York for 228 years."

The new Edison professorship will be held by scholars who will teach both graduates and undergraduates and who will conduct research in energy-related fields. The chair will not be attached to a single school or department at Columbia, but will be held by professors from different disciplines whose interests focus on engery issues.

New appointments to it will be made by the Columbia Trustees every few years, in rotation, drawing from candidates from such diverse fields as the pure sciences, engineering, economics, law, and communications.

The Edison professor will deliver an annual publid lecture on an energy-related topic, to be known as "The Consolidated Edison Company Lecture".

Con Edison has long supported higher education and in the past has made gifts to Columbia for laboratories, medical education, student aid, and other purposes.

Two APAM professors, Prof. Herbert Goldstein and Prof. Gerald Navratil, have been awarded the Thomas Alva Edison Professorship.

Related Article
New York Times: Edison Professorship Set Up

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 200, MC 4701 New York, NY 10027 / Phone: 212-854-4457 / Fax: 212-854-8257 / Email:

©2012 Columbia University