50 Years of Expanding Access to Higher Education

Editor's note:

This story originally appeared on the Roger Lehecka Double Discovery Center website.

September 14, 2015

The Double Discovery Center held its 50th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, September 10 at Columbia University’s Low Library. The celebration, attended by 250 people, honored Joel Klein (CC’67), CEO of Amplify and executive vice president of News Corp, and Roger Lehecka (CC’67, GSAS’74), co-founder of Project Double Discovery.  

Honorees Joel I. Klein and Roger Lehecka are childhood friends.The evening consisted of a cocktail reception dinner and silent auction. Honorees Klein and Lehecka received the James P. Shenton Award for Excellence. Professor Shenton (CC ’49, GSAS’54) helped to guide the creation of Project Double Discovery, later renamed the Double Discovery Center.  The evening also paid tribute to the late Arnold A. Saltzman (CC’36), whose support was fundamental to the successful creation of Project Double Discovery.

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer (GS’97) presented DDC Executive Director Joseph A. Ayala (CC’94) with a Proclamation naming September 10, 2015 “Columbia Double Discovery Center Appreciation Day.”

Double Discovery Center Honorees Joel I. Klein and Roger Lehecka are childhood friends.
Double Discovery Center Honorees Joel I. Klein and Roger Lehecka are childhood friends.

A short documentary on DDC history featuring alumni was also screened.

The event was attended by James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College; George Rupp, former president of the University; Columbia professors and administrators; Columbia College and DDC alumni; current students; former and current DDC staff; two former DDC directors; and DDC supporters.

In its 50-year history, the Double Discovery Center has expanded access to higher education to over 15,000 low-income and first-generation college bound youth who attend underserved schools.  Center graduates have gone on to become attorneys, businessmen, educators and doctors. DDC provides mentorship, academic support, college advising and cultural enrichment to Center students.

Proceeds raised from the gala will support the center’s Science Discovery program and the College Persistence Initiative.