Benjamin Graham (1894-1976)
Columbia College 1914, Faculty 1928-55
Benjamin Graham was salutatorian of the class of 1914 and, weeks before graduation, was offered teaching positions in three different faculties: Greek and Latin philosophy, English, and mathematics. He was all of 20 years old. Needing to support his siblings and widowed mother, he went to work on Wall Street. In 1934, he wrote Security Analysis, the first book ever to put the study of investments on a systematically logical footing. In 1949, he published The Intelligent Investor, which Warren Buffett has called "the best book about investing ever written." That text, in which Graham discusses the intellectual framework and emotional discipline required for investing success, has sold over 1 million copies and has helped hundreds of thousands of regular people reach their financial goals with safety and reliability. Graham is universally acknowledged as the father of modern security analysis (if his rigorous methods had been consistently followed, the 1990s would not be remembered as a financial disaster). Among Graham's students at the Business School was a young man from Omaha, Warren Buffett, who has said that he was struck by the force of Graham's teachings "like Paul on the road to Damascus." Graham also wrote extensively about monetary policy, earning praise from John Maynard Keynes; held several U.S. patents, including one on an improved slide rule that anticipated many elements of the pocket calculator; wrote an original Broadway play, True to the Marines, that may have inspired the classic movie Born Yesterday; and translated a Uruguayan novel, Mario Benedetti's The Truce, into English. One of Graham's favorite hobbies was translating Homer into Latin and Virgil into Greek; you can take the boy out of Columbia, but you can't take Columbia out of the boy.
Submitted by Jason Zweig, Columbia College 1981, who is solely responsible for the content.