Columbia Scholastic Press Association

CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.

Gold Keys

The History of the CSPA Gold Key

"In recognition of outstanding devotion to the cause of the school press, encouragement to the student editors in their several endeavors, service above and beyond the call of delegated duty, leadership in the field of education, and support of the high ideals from which the Association has drawn its strength and inspiration" are the words on the Certificate that accompanies the CSPA's Gold Key.

The Gold Key has its roots in history. The crown on its top is a symbol of King's College, formally established by Royal Charter on October 31, 1754, as the first such institution in the Province of New York and the fifth in the American Colonies. After the Revolutionary War, its name was changed to Columbia College. The Trustees authorized the change to the institution's present name of Columbia University in the City of New York in 1896.

Bearing a replica of the seal of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Key includes the date of the CSPA's founding, 1925. Inside the frame is a reproduction of the facade of Low Memorial Library, the central architectural feature of the University's Morningside Heights campus and a New York City landmark. The CSPA seal was executed by James Kip Finch, professor (and later Dean) of engineering at Columbia.

A total of 902 Gold Keys have been awarded since the CSPA's founding director, Joseph M. Murphy, started the tradition in 1929. Beginning in 1930, Gold Keys were presented during the concluding ceremonies of the Association's annual convention.

Different procedures were used to select those honored with the Gold Key during the CSPA's history. Most often prior to 1955, an advisory committee would consider nominees recommended by past Key recipients. Many faculty adviser nominees were considered due to an extensive record of CSPA honors earned by the student publications they advised. From 1955 until 1979, Joseph M. Murphy made the annual selections with some advice from officers of the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers Association (CSPAA). Selections in 1980 and 1981 were made by then-director Charles R. O'Malley. From 1982 until 1991, selections were made by a committee convened by director Edmund J. Sullivan, using nominees suggested by either past Key recipients or directors of state scholastic press associations. Beginning with the 1992 selections, Sullivan asked the CSPAA to create a permanent Committee on Honors and Awards, chaired by its immediate past president, to make the selections, accepting nominees from scholastic, collegiate and professional sources, including past recipients.