Sovern, Michael Ira, 1931–, American lawyer and educator, president of Columbia Univ. (1980–93), b. New York City. He graduated from the Columbia Univ. Law School in 1955 and after 1957 he was on its faculty. Dean of the law school from 1970 to 1979 and provost from 1979 to 1980, he was president of Columbia from 1980 until his resignation in 1993. He continued to teach law at Columbia and became president of the Japan Society.