No ball game had been won. No championship was secured in a faraway stadium.
And yet more than 30 students, faculty and staff, donned in Columbia College purple, gathered at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport on a Friday afternoon to welcome home a 59-year old man who returned not with athletics laurels but with a big-time academic one: U.S. Professor of the Year.
John Zubizarreta stopped in his tracks, smiled, took a few more tentative steps and smiled again when he saw the Columbia College contingent that cheered his return from Washington, D.C., where he had been feted at a luncheon and reception for being named U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
"Thank you," said Zubizarreta, who has taught English at Columbia College for 22 years and directed its honors program for 19. "I'm very proud to have represented Columbia College. I made it clear that the only reason these things happen is because of the great environment."
The students, many of whom had been or are being taught by Zubizarreta, beamed. Among those in the cheering group was Diana Lynde, a 21-year old Columbia College senior who had won a national student award in October.