Barack Obama

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Barack Obama".
Obama the Columbia undergrad, visiting Central Park

Barack Obama CC '83, is the 44th and current President of the United States. A former US Senator from Illinois, he is the first African-American and the first Columbia graduate to hold the nation's highest office.

Obama is the first attendee of Columbia College and the first graduate of any Columbia school[1], to occupy the Oval Office. Obama was also the first Columbia College alumnus to be nominated by a major modern party ticket, and the first CC alum to be a major party nominee since the Federalists nominated DeWitt Clinton in 1812.

He is the second Columbia alumnus to win a Nobel Peace Prize, after Nicholas Murray Butler in 1931. Theodore Roosevelt also won a Peace Prize, but is not formally an alumnus.

Obama maintains a somewhat distant relationship to Columbia today. While he has turned down invitations to official Columbia events and appeared to deemphasize his Columbia years in the course of his campaign, Obama has sent personal notes to alumni of his class and is a donor to the university.



Recent relationship with Columbia

Many Columbia students audaciously hoped he would win the Democratic primary and the national election. Obama, however, appeared to tend to forget or ignore his Columbia affiliation, preferring to mention that he attended Harvard Law School. He has repeatedly turned down requests to be the Class Day speaker in recent years, as well as general requests to appear from the College Democrats.

He did, however, note that Columbia was his alma mater while visiting during the ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum, and sent a letter to the attendees of the Class of 1983's 25th reunion gathering. Obama's 2009 tax filings revealed what may be stirrings of latent loyalty to the institution: Obama donated $1,000 to Columbia that fiscal year, giving nothing to Harvard.

Other Columbia coincidences

In his primary fight to become the Democratic nominee, Obama faced, among others, GS alum Mike Gravel. His Republican opponent was John McCain, a former Class Day speaker whose daughter, Meghan McCain, was CC'07. In the general election, he also faced tickets with Wayne Allen Root, also CC'83, the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, and independent vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez CC'87.

Following his victory, Obama nominated Eric Holder CC'73 for Attorney General and Julius Genachowski CC'85 chairman of the FCC. Judd Gregg CC'69 was later nominated as Commerce Secretary.

Revisionism and Obama's Columbia Years

As with the `birther' movement's obsession with the veracity of Obama's birth records, occasional hoaxes and misinformation are promulgated surrounding his time at Columbia or a fictitious ``thesis" written while a student[2]


  1. Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both attended Columbia Law School, but neither graduated, as you only needed to pass the bar after 2 years of school to practice law. One Roosevelt dropped out after passing the bar, the other after being elected to the NY State Assembly. Dwight Eisenhower never attended Columbia, but rather served as a somewhat absentee President of the University while biding his time to run for the Presidency.

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