The Anastasia Van Burkalow Award for Distinguished Service


The Anastasia Van Burkalow Award for Distinguished Service is the highest honor award given by the department for service to the Department of Geography and Environmental Science.

Dr. Anastasia Van Burkalow (1911-2004), a pioneer in the geosciences when the field was dominated by men, was the first woman to be appointed to the prestigious Kemp Fellowship in Geology at Columbia University. A daughter of a Methodist minister (as were both her grandfathers) and a musician, Van Burkalow graduated from Hunter College in 1931 with a B.A. degree in geology, received M.A. degree in 1933 and the Ph.D. in 1944 in geology from Columbia University. She was elected chair of the then Department of Geology and Geography at Hunter College in 1961 and served four consecutive four year terms. Under her leadership the department prospered and its reputation for excellence in undergraduate geoscience education grew. She was elected to the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame in 1973. In recognition of her years of service to the department, college and discipline, Hunter College-CUNY awarded her an honorary Doctor of Science in 1996.

In addition to her commitment to teacher preparation programs, during her tenure and well into the retirement, Van Burkalow produced an outstanding amount of scholarship. She published numerous articles and reviews, gave lectures and actively participated in professional organizations including the American Geographical Society and the Society of Woman Geographers-New York Group. Her research interests included geomorphology, physical geography, cartography, conservation, resources, and medical geology and geography. She produced one on the first analytical works on the New York City water supply system and a four-part Transcontinental Excursion Field Guide for the 1952 International Geographical Union’s annual meeting in the United States. She edited the Journal of Geological Education (1954-56), and the classics Megalopolis by Jean Gottman (1960-61) and Economic Geography by Jones and Darkenwald (1961-62).

Outside of academia her passion was church music. She played organ during masses in several churches in the city.

To mark her 50 years of service to Hunter College, the Anastasia Van Burkalow Distinguished Service Award was created in 1990. It continues to be awarded annually to a person or organization that espouses the values and goals she set for herself.



        1990     Anastasia Van Burkalow
  1991   The American Express Co.
  1992   National Geographic Society
  1993   Alan H. Strahler
  1994   Alice Hudson
Map Division, NYPL
  1995   Saul B. Cohen
  1996   Environmental Systems Research Institute
  1997   Jacobs Family
  1998   American Geographical Society
  1999   Society of Women Geographers New York Group
  2000   Commissioner Allan H. Dobrin
NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications
  2001   CARSI Laboratory, Hunter College - CUNY
Sean C. Ahearn, Director
  2002   Clyde P. Patton
  2003   US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory
  2004   Karl-Heinz Szekielda
  2005   Anthony F. Grande
  2006   Jeffrey P. Osleeb
  2007   Teodosia Manecan
  2008   Thomas B. Walter
  2010   Charles A. Heatwole
  2012   Samuel Kess
  2013   Ela Shapiro
  2014   Sara L. McLafferty
  2015   Jack Eichenbaum
  2019   Dana Reimer
  2022   Martha Taylee
  2023   Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab