Last year, more than 2,000 master’s students graduated from Columbia’s School of Professional Studies. Two of those graduates who walked in May, James and Anthony Luckie, happened to be father and son. James, who lives in Setauket, New York, and Anthony, who is now in Forest Hills, New York, both received their M.S. from the Construction Administration program.
In a recent interview, father and son discussed why they decided to join the program, what they hope to accomplish with their degrees, and how they welcomed a new addition to their family a week after commencement.
What was it like to graduate together?
Anthony: I told my dad that morning that while it’s an incredible achievement for both of us to graduate from an Ivy League school, for me, that day was a culmination of a father raising his son. Standing there with him onstage, both our arms draped over Professor and Program Director John Parkinson, who taught the first class we took at Columbia, I made sure I took time to feel grateful.
James: How many people can say, “My son was my classmate,” or “My father was my classmate” (although I used to always joke that I was his older brother)? We already had a very strong bond, but going through this program and attaining our master’s together made it even stronger.
What inspired you to get a master’s at Columbia SPS in the Construction Administration program?
Anthony: I had zero interest in getting a master’s. I had my law degree, and after I passed the bar, I thought I’d never go to school again. But my dad kept bringing it up. I didn’t think I’d even get in. But I gave it a shot. The opportunity to have my name placed on the same alumni list as some of the most important figures in American history seemed like a great opportunity. Getting in was a really big thrill for my life.
James: With the start of the pandemic, I knew the labor markets were going to be in a transitional phase. I also knew that at 59 years old, my experience and skills needed to be upgraded to adequately prepare me for the future. I felt the best way to do this was to attain a master’s in Construction Management. Also, my son’s legal practice focused on construction litigation, so it seemed like it was a program that would benefit both of us.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
Anthony: I have a lot of goals for my degree. Currently I’m an attorney at Lewis Brisbois, and I mostly handle construction-accident lawsuits, but I’d like to do a lot more. With this degree, I now know I can litigate contractual disputes, mechanic’s liens, and property-damage cases. I mean, how many lawyers actually know how to use the software that companies use to make scheduling? How many know how to read a blueprint? The answer is not many. But now I do.
James: I’m looking forward to possibly teaching within the program and pursuing electrical sustainability consulting opportunities.
What were your thoughts about the program?
Anthony: The program was awesome. I’ve made so many lifelong connections, from students to faculty to administration. They’re incredible people, all of them.
One of the coolest things for me, someone who’s been in or around New York City pretty much his whole life, is that I have classmates and friends who are not just from other parts of America, but they’re from Chile, Pakistan, Jerusalem, and so many other places. To get the unique perspective of people that aren’t from where you’re from, I think, only makes someone better.
Any last thoughts?
Anthony: My life is a blessing. My own son was born one week after graduation. I don’t take for granted how lucky I am to have my dad. I can only hope that my son knows how loved he is as I know I am loved by my parents.
James: The best part of the day was standing arm in arm with Professor Parkinson and knowing both my son and I persevered together to get our degrees and to become part of the Columbia Alumni community.
About the Program
Columbia’s Master of Science in Construction Administration program prepares graduates for a variety of careers at the forefront of construction and project leadership. Graduates develop rewarding careers with some of the world's most respected architecture, engineering, and construction firms entrusted with delivering some of the most impactful projects of our time.
The final application deadline for the Spring 2024 M.S. in Construction Administration program is November 1, 2023. The suggested deadline for applicants with international documents is October 2, 2023. Learn more here.