Eric Holder

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Eric Holder CC '73 Law '76 is the current Attorney General of the United States, serving under Barack Obama. Holder is the first African-American AG, and succeeds another CC alum, Michael Mukasey.

Unusually for a famous alum, Holder has remained close to his alma mater since graduation, serving as a Columbia trustee from March 2007 to February 2009 and earning a John Jay Award. He gave the Columbia College Class Day speech in May 2009 and the Law School graduation speech the following year.

After growing up in Queens, Holder attended Stuyvesant High School and arrived at Columbia in 1969, surviving a succession of burnout roommates before being in the unusual position of having Carman 301A all to himself toward the end of his freshman year. He later became friends with eventual New York State Governor David Paterson.

That same first year, Holder was on the basketball team, playing in 10 games, scoring 3 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. He also played lightweight football and helped with the effort to take over the ROTC lounge and convert it into the Malcolm X Lounge, occupying Dean Henry Coleman's office in protest over the issue. Although he was radical enough at the time to refuse to sit for junior exams, he says that by senior year he "ran out of issues". He chose to major in American history and spent weekends taking underprivileged neighborhood children to cosmopolitan New York attractions. When he decided to apply to law school, he asked Dean Coleman, whose office he had occupied, for a recommendation. The dean agreed.

While in law school, Holder spent his first summer working for the NAACP and his second working with a US Attorney's office. He subsequently joined the new public defenders unit of the Department of Justice, after earning his Juris Doctor degree.

Holder served as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton, and later served on Obama's vice presidential search committee before being named Attorney General.

He is married to Sharon Malone, a 1988 graduate of the Medical School.



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Preceded by
Joel Klein
Columbia College Class Day Speaker 
Succeeded by
Benjamin Jealous