Totenberg is National Public Radio’s award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR’s critically acclaimed newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. Totenberg has covered the Supreme Court for nearly 40 years. Most recently, she covered rulings on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage.
In 1991, her groundbreaking report about University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment by Judge Clarence Thomas led the Senate Judiciary Committee to re-open Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings to consider Hill’s charges. NPR received the Peabody Award for its coverage, which Totenberg anchored. The coverage earned her additional awards, including the Long Island University George Polk Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and the Joan S. Barone Award.
In 1988, Totenberg won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her coverage of Supreme Court nominations. The jurors of the award stated, “Ms. Totenberg broke the story of Judge (Douglas) Ginsburg’s use of marijuana, raising issues of changing social values and credibility with careful perspective under deadline pressure.”
Totenberg has won every major journalism award in broadcasting, and is the only radio journalist to win the National Press Foundation award for Broadcaster of the Year.
History of the Schiffman lecture series
In November 2000, John Schiffman announced a $1.5 million donation to Columbia College to establish the Althea W. and John A. Schiffman Endowed Chair in Ethics, Religious Studies and Philosophy. It is the first-ever endowed chair at the college and, at the time, was the largest single gift in the history of the college. A significant portion of the gift was used to establish a lecture series focusing on ethics in society. The lectures are aimed at engaging students, faculty, staff and the Columbia community about ethical issues in contemporary society.