Meyer Schapiro CC '24 LittD (hon. caus.) '75, was the most influential American-trained art historian of the twentieth century. He was also the personification of Art History at Columbia for much of the 20th century. He attended Columbia on Regents and Pulitzer scholarships, and graduated at age 20 with honors in both Art History and Philosophy. He began teaching at Columbia in 1928 while writing a doctoratal dissertation on the sculptural decoration at Moissac. The first part of the dissertation was published in the Art Bulletin in 1931. Schapiro remained a faculty member until 1973, becoming a University Professor. Among Schapiro's accomplishments were the inclusion of art history in the Core Curriculum even before the formal establishment of an Art Hum course; an early essay of his appeared on the Contemporary Civilization syllabus during the 1930s.
In 1975, he was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal, and in 1978, the chair of Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, currently held by David Rosand, was established in his honor. In 1995, his brother Morris Schapiro donated a million dollars to endow another chair, the Meyer Schapiro Professorship of Modern Art and Theory, in Meyer's memory.