The Simon H. Rifkind Center for the Humanities & the Arts was established in 1986 through a grant from the Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation, "in recognition of a revered son of City College, Class of 1922, a man of wit, learning, and humane wisdom, and dedicated to the perpetual renewal of the life of the mind."
The Honorable Simon H. Rifkind was born in Russia, emigrated to the U.S. at the age of nine, and was educated in New York City public schools, at City College (B.A.), and at Columbia University (J.D.). A distinguished Federal Judge and a senior partner of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, one of New York's major law firms, Rifkind was a renowned trial lawyer. He argued landmark cases on behalf of notable private citizens, including the defense of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis against paparazzi; offered counsel to political figures such as New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner and Governor Hugh L. Carey; and was selected by the U.S. Supreme Court to settle disputes by several Western states over water rights to the Colorado River. The breadth of his legal expertise was extraordinary; so, too, was his dedication to public service. An early champion of Holocaust survivors, Judge Rifkind served on numerous governmental panels and agencies, and on the boards of medical, religious, and philanthropic institutions–as well as on the New York City Board of Higher Education from 1954-1966. His many awards include the Medal of Freedom, presented to him by President Harry S. Truman.
The primary goal of the Center is to promote the College's cultural activities in the Humanities and Arts. It does so in a variety of ways, including support for faculty research, the organization and sponsorship of special events of various kinds, high school outreach programs, and the support of a number of publications associated with the College.