Columbians Ahead of Their Time
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Mortimer J. Adler Mortimer J. Adler
Philosopher and Educator
"Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men." View
Madeleine Korbel Albright Madeleine Korbel Albright
"While democracy in the long run is the most stable form of government, in the short run, it is among the most fragile." View
Bhimrao Ambedkar Bhimrao Ambedkar
Founding Father, Modern India
"An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering." View
Laurie Anderson Laurie Anderson
"When love is gone, there's always justice." View
Virginia Apgar Virginia Apgar
"Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me." View
Roone Arledge Roone Arledge
"Now we're going to take the viewer to the game!" View
Edwin Howard Armstrong Edwin Howard Armstrong
"The continuous good fortune which has followed me, providing second chances at inventions when the first chance was missed and tossed away, has been all that a man could hope for and more than he has any right to expect." View
Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov
Author and Scientist
"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." View
Emanuel Ax Emanuel Ax
"I really hope we can go back to the feeling that applause should be an emotional response to the music, rather than a regulated social duty." View
Frederick A. P. Barnard Frederick A. P. Barnard
"It is earnestly to be hoped that no single and earnest seeker after knowledge, of whatever age, sex, or previous condition, shall be denied the privilege of coming here." View
Salo Wittmayer Baron Salo Wittmayer Baron
"Only in a university can be found the range and diversity of disciplines and intellectual strengths that are necessary components of contemporary Judaica–history, political science, economics, sociology, philology, languages, and literatures." View
Jacqueline Barton
"What many people don't realize is how dynamic the structure of DNA is. The base pairs are always moving and vibrating, electrons are migrating, holes are opening up and closing through the center of the DNA." View
Jacques Barzun Jacques Barzun
"The test and the use of man's education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind." View
Charles Austin Beard Charles Austin Beard
"Let us examine the assumptions." View
Baruj Benacerraf Baruj Benacerraf
"Through work does one reach the stars!" View
Ruth Fulton Benedict Ruth Fulton Benedict
"I gambled on having the strength to live two lives, one for myself and one for the world." View
Adolph Augustus Berle, Jr.
Economic Theorist
"The 'free market' … has been completely displaced as the infallible god, has been substantially displaced as universal economic master, and increasingly ceases to be, or to be thought of as, the only acceptable way of economic life." View
Theos Casimir Bernard Theos Casimir Bernard
Explorer and Scholar of Religion
"It should be thought very strange if one's hands and feet refused to behave, or behaved in a manner which showed that their owner had no control over them. Yet that is how too often human beings allow their most delicate instrument, the mind, to behave." View
Hazel Bishop
"Women should use make-up to accentuate their most attractive feature. After the age of 25 or thereabouts, personality becomes an increasingly more attractive feature." View
Franz Boas Franz Boas
"If we were to select the most intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable third of mankind, all races would be present." View
Randolph Bourne Randolph Bourne
Social Critic
"War is the health of the State." View
Warren Edward Buffett Warren Edward Buffett
"It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." View
John W. Burgess
"We value [history] not by its brilliance, but by its productiveness." View
Arthur Burns
"Professional economists should stick to their knitting...economic counseling and political advocacy could get in one another's way." View
Nicholas Murray Butler Nicholas Murray Butler
"Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress." View
James Francis Cagney Jr. James Francis Cagney Jr.
"Absorption in things other than self is the secret of a happy life." View
Mary Calderone
Sex Educator
"We're still a sexophobic society, afraid of the wrong things for the wrong reason." View
José Raul Capablanca José Raul Capablanca
Chess Champion
"A good player is always lucky." View
Benjamin Cardozo Benjamin Cardozo
"The judicial process is one of compromise between paradoxes, between certainty and uncertainty, between the literalism that is exaltation of the written word and the nihilism that is destructive of regularity and order." View
Bennett Alfred Cerf Bennett Alfred Cerf
"There have been too many [books] in which some young man is looking forward, backward or sideways in anger. Or in which some Southern youth is being chased through the magnolia bushes by his aunt. She catches him on page 28 with horrid results." View
Charles Frederick Chandler Charles Frederick Chandler
"He has placed the entire world in his debt, and brought added dignity and prestige to the profession of which he is such a conspicuous ornament."
—Perkin Medal citation, 1920 View
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm
"In the end antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing—antihumanism." View
Kenneth B. Clark & Mamie Phipps Clark Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark
Educational Psychologists
"This is probably one of the most dangerous things facing mankind today: A use and training of intelligence excluding moral sensitivity." View
DeWitt Clinton DeWitt Clinton
New York Builder
"The fundamental error of Europe has been to confine the light of knowledge to the wealthy and great, while the humble and depressed have been as sedulously excluded from its participation as the wretched criminal, immured in a dungeon, is from the light of Heaven." View
Barry Commoner Barry Commoner
"The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else." View
John Corigliano
"I find the best art coming out of HBO…No matter what it's doing, whether it's comic or horror, it knows it must reach an audience." View
André Frédéric Cournand André Frédéric Cournand
"We must educate people to develop a taste for ideas." View
Lawrence Arthur Cremin Lawrence Arthur Cremin
"When the Russians beat us into space, the public blamed the schools, not realizing that the only thing that had been proved was that their German scientists had gotten ahead of our German scientists." View
Annie Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany Annie Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany
Dentist and Author
"It took me a hundred years to figure out I can't change the world. I can only change Bessie."
Sarah Louise "Sadie" Delany Sarah Louise "Sadie" Delany
Teacher and Author
"Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet." View
John Dewey John Dewey
"The future of our civilization depends upon the widening spread and deepening hold of the scientific cast of mind." View
William Joseph Donovan William Joseph Donovan
"The Office of Strategic Services means what its name implies: every service of a strategic nature, tried or untried, that may be useful to our Army and Navy and Air Force." View
William Orville Douglas William Orville Douglas
"The critical point is that the Constitution places the right of silence beyond the reach of government." View
Irwin Edman Irwin Edman
Philosopher, Poet
"Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine." View
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight D. Eisenhower
U.S. President
"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." View
Niles Eldredge Niles Eldredge
"If you are passionately interested in something, it's not hard." View
Jay Martin Enoch Jay Martin Enoch
Vision Scientist
"In many ways, Columbia opened doors to my future." View
John Erskine John Erskine
Literary Scholar
"Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information." View
William Maurice Ewing William Maurice Ewing
Earth Scientist
"It's my view that we won't know where the most interesting places are until we've seen all of them." View
Clifton Fadiman Clifton Fadiman
Author, Editor
"For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed." View
Enrico Fermi
"It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge." View
Hamilton Fish Hamilton Fish
"If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace." View
James Marston Fitch James Marston Fitch
"The ultimate task of architecture is to act in favor of human beings." View
Virginia Kneeland Frantz Virginia Kneeland Frantz
Surgical Pathologist
"If you go into medicine with stardust in your eyes you will be quickly disillusioned. But, if you are crazy enough to be determined to do it...the rewards are enormous." View
Milton Friedman Milton Friedman
"History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition." View
Fred Friendly Fred W. Friendly
"Our job is not to make up anybody's mind but to make the agony of decision-making so intense you can only escape by thinking." View
Arthur Ira Garfunkel Arthur Ira Garfunkel
"It's taken me years to realize that the first or the second take is often the one. That's when you're authentically yourself—in spite of yourself." View
Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig
"There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all." View
Allen Ginsberg Allen Ginsberg
"Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does." View
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ruth Bader Ginsburg
"Civil liberties are an essential part of the overall human rights concern–the equality of all people and the ability to be free." View
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould
"If genius has any common denominator, I would propose breadth of interest and the ability to construct fruitful analogies between fields." View
Moses Hadas Moses Hadas
"The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination." View
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton
Founding Father
"The existence of slavery makes us fancy many things that are founded neither in reason or experience." View
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II Oscar Hammerstein II
Lyricist and Librettist
"He's a meticulously hard worker and yet he'll roam the grass of his farm for hours and sometimes for days before he can bring himself to put a word on paper."
—Rodgers on Hammerstein View
Edward Stephen Harkness Edward Stephen Harkness
"What has happened here surpasses anything I did or could dream of." View
Lorenz Hart Lorenz Hart
"The theater-going public is so many intellectual cuts above the popular music-buying public that it’s criminal to hand them a series of metrical insults and call it a score. Songs should advance the plot." View
Carolyn Heilbrun Carolyn Heilbrun
"Ideas move rapidly when their time comes." View
Joseph Heller Joseph Heller
"People go to fight wars because they don't understand the seriousness of what they're doing." View
Gilbert Arthur Highet Gilbert Arthur Highet
"A teacher must believe in the value and interest of his subject as a doctor believes in health." View
Richard Hofstadter Richard Hofstadter
"A university is not a service station. Neither is it a political society, nor a meeting place for political societies. With all its limitations and failures, and they are invariably many, it is the best and most benign side of our society insofar as that society aims to cherish the human mind." View
Herman Hollerith Herman Hollerith
"The object of my invention is to generally facilitate the compilation and increase the scope of . . . statistics." View
Charles Evans Hughes Charles Evans Hughes
"We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is."
Langston Hughes Langston Hughes
"Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly."
Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston
"No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you." View
Pixley ka Isaka Seme Pixley ka Isaka Seme
Political Activist
"The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilization is soon to be added to the world." View
John Jay John Jay
Founding Father
"The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy." View
Donald Clarence Judd Donald Clarence Judd
Artist and critic
"A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn't be concealed as part of a fairly different whole." View
Eric Kandel Eric Kandel
"One of the most remarkable aspects of an animal's behavior is the ability to modify that behavior by learning, an ability that reaches its highest form in human beings." View
Alfred Kazin
Critic and Writer
"I was a literary radical, indifferent to economics, suspicious of organization, planning, Marxist solemnity and intellectual system building ." View
Thomas Howard Kean Thomas Howard Kean
"Teaching is the only job I have ever had that can compare to being governor of a great state." View
Helen Kim Helen Kim
"Freedom is not just a word here, not just a concept taken for granted. Its meaning is in the air we breathe, in our thoughts, in our hearts." View
John Werner Kluge John Werner Kluge
Business Leader
"I think it's very important to have imagination and very important to dream, but I also think it is important to keep ideas to yourself until you are implementing them." View
Alfred Abraham Knopf Alfred Abraham Knopf
"I think that best-seller lists ought to be abolished by law. They're just another example of running with the crowd." View
V.K. Wellington Koo V. K. Wellington Koo
"The recent history of both Europe and Asia shows beyond a doubt the futility of trying to turn a tiger into a kitten by giving it a dish of cream." View
Tony Kushner Tony Kushner
"My day job is playwright. My citizen job is activist. That's every citizen's job. I succeed and fail at both my jobs, but I try to do them both." View
Louis Lawrence Little Louis Lawrence Little
"I did not come to Columbia to fail!" View
Henry Demarest Lloyd
"Liberty produces wealth, and wealth destroys liberty. " View
Federico García Lorca Federico García Lorca
"I have not worried to be born, I do not worry to die." View
Seth Low Seth Low
New York City Leader
"The great city can teach something that no university by itself can altogether impart: a vivid sense of the largeness of human brotherhood, a vivid sense of man's increasing obligation to man; a vivid sense of our absolute dependence on one another." View
Sid Luckman Sid Luckman
"You had to be there to realize how great Sid was."
—Jimmy Cannon, sportswriter. View
Otto Luening Otto Luening
"In American music today there's a terrific amount of differentiation, a variety of styles and approaches. And that's the American story: this enormous, broad thing." View
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Naval Historian
"War now not only occurs more rarely . . . [but is] an occasional excess, from which recovery is easy." View
Irwin D. Mandel Irwin D. Mandel
Oral Biologist
"Even in the oral cavity microcosm, we tolerate our neighbors but eschew uninvited strangers." View
Herman Mankiewicz
"In a movie… [t]he villain can lay anybody he wants, have as much fun as he wants cheating, stealing, getting rich, and whipping servants. But you have to shoot him in the end." View
Joseph Mankiewicz
"I've been in on the beginning, the rise, peak, collapse, and end of the talking picture." View
Brander Matthews
Drama Scholar
"The art of teaching requires the instructor to guide his student to work independently to discover principles for himself, and in time to acquire the power of principles to the manifold situations which may confront him." View
Anna Caroline Maxwell Anna Caroline Maxwell
"Can a higher service be rendered mankind than is in our power to give?" View
Terrence McNally
"When the lights go down and the curtain goes up, how can you not get a rush? I mean, you'd not be human." View
Margaret Mead Margaret Mead
"It's all one world. There are no islands anymore." View
James Howard Meredith James Howard Meredith
"Nothing could be more insulting to me than the concept of civil rights. It means perpetual second-class citizenship for me and my kind." View
Robert King Merton Robert King Merton
"My life of learning has been largely shaped by a long series of chance encounters and consequential choices." View
Thomas Merton Thomas Merton
"God utters me like a word containing a partial thought of himself." View
Charles Wright Mills Charles Wright Mills
"There are more men of knowledge in the service of power than men of power in the service of knowledge." View
John Purroy Mitchel
New York City Mayor
"No stauncher American, no abler and more disinterested public servant, and no finer natural soldier than [John] Purroy Mitchel was to be found in all our country." —Theodore Roosevelt View
Clement Clarke Moore
Biblical Scholar
"But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night." View
Thomas Hunt Morgan Thomas Hunt Morgan
"There is no doubt that man, as an animal, inherits characteristics, good and evil, as do animals and plants." View
Gouverneur Morris Gouverneur Morris
Founding Father
"This country must be united. If persuasion does not unite it, the sword will." View
Robert Moses Robert Moses
Shaper of New York City
"If the ends don't justify the means, what does?" View
Constance Baker Motley Constance Baker Motley
"When I went to law school, nobody heard of civil rights." View
Story Musgrave Story Musgrave
"Statistically it's a certainty there are hugely advanced civilizations, intelligences, life forms out there." View
Koji Nakanishi Koji Nakanishi
"I can explain the principle behind a good science experiment in 15 seconds; the same with magic." View
Allan Nevins Allan Nevins
"Instead of dissecting impersonal forces . . . the historian should narrate the past in terms of living men and women seen as individuals, groups, or communities; and he should give due emphasis to personal motivation and initiative." View
Marjorie Hope Nicolson Marjorie Hope Nicolson
Literary Scholar
"Social scientists must believe that poetry, essays, and drama are as legitimate expressions of the spirit of man as the works of John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith–or even Karl Marx." View
Isamu Noguchi Isamu Noguchi
"I like to think of gardens as sculpturing of space." View
Georgia O'Keeffe Georgia O'Keeffe
"I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty." View
William Barclay Parsons William Barclay Parsons
Civil Engineer
"The underlying principles of the present state of world culture, or civilization as it is usually and erroneously called, rest on engineering." View
George Elmer Pataki George Elmer Pataki
"When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves." View
Walker Percy Walker Percy
"If I had the choice of knowing the truth or searching for the truth, I'd take the search." View
Frances Perkins
U.S. Secretary of Labor
"I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen." View
Joseph Pulitzer Joseph Pulitzer
"A newspaper should [do] more than…printing every day first-rate news and first-rate editorials. It should have hobbies, undertake reforms, lead crusades, and thereby establish a name for individuality and active public service." View
Michael Idvorsky Pupin Michael Idvorsky Pupin
Electrical Engineer
"The greatest scientists in the world have never discovered how to make grass into milk." View
Anna Quindlen
"If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all." View
Helen M. Ranney Helen M. Ranney
"We were the group that was there in medicine when medicine became a science." View
James Renwick
"A magnificent Gothic Revival church, designed by an engineer who studied the copybooks of [English] theorists and detailers… One of the city's greatest treasures." AIA Guide to New York View
Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr. Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr.
"Our findings have been for the most part preliminary, revealing new problems more often than solving old ones." View
Paul Robeson Paul Robeson
Singer, Actor, Activist
"The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery." View
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II Richard Rodgers
"I hand him a lyric and get out of his way."
—Hammerstein on Rodgers View
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt
U.S. President
"Liberty is the air that we Americans breathe. Our government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free. That civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against the abuse of freedom." View
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt
U.S. President
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." View
Meyer Schapiro Meyer Schapiro
Art Historian
"Art has its own conditions which distinguish it from other activities. It operates with its own special materials and according to general psychological laws." View
James Patrick Shenton James Patrick Shenton
"I came out of a generation that got touched by fire." View
Hu Shih Hu Shih
Philosopher, Educator
"Only when we realize that there is no eternal, unchanging truth or absolute truth can we arouse in ourselves a sense of intellectual responsibility." View
Benjamin Spock Benjamin Spock
"You know more than you think you do." View
Harlan Fiske Stone Harlan Fiske Stone
"There were precious few who understood and followed the commands and restraints of the Constitution, who supported the essence of limited government, who enhanced the concept of popular government under law, who furthered respect for the Bill of Rights as fully as Stone did."
— Henry J. Abraham View
Arthur Sulzberger Arthur Sulzberger
"We tell the public which way the cat is jumping. The public will take care of the cat." View
Lawrence A. Tabak Lawrence A. Tabak
Dental Researcher
"We need to challenge ourselves to find even more innovative and effective ways of doing biomedical research and converting that into cures." View
Telford Taylor Telford Taylor
"The laws of war are not a one-way street." View
Marie Tharp Marie Tharp
"It was very exciting in those days. We were explorers." View
Twyla Tharp Twyla Tharp
"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home." View
Lionel Trilling Lionel Trilling
"Youth is a time when we find the books we give up but do not get over." View
Rexford Guy Tugwell Rexford Guy Tugwell
"Fundamental changes of attitude, new disciplines, revised legal structures, unaccustomed limitations on activity, are all necessary if we are to plan. This amounts, in fact, to the abandonment, finally, of laissez-faire." View
Harold Clayton Urey Harold Clayton Urey
"I do not think we should intentionally lose the armaments race; to do this will be to lose our liberties and, with Patrick Henry, I value my liberties more than my life." View
Mark Van Doren Mark Van Doren
"Nothing in man is more serious than his sense of humor; it is the sign that he wants all the truth." View
Eudora Welty Eudora Welty
"I want so desperately for people to see something of themselves when they look at me." View
Milton Moran Weston II Milton Moran Weston II
"A banker-priest is really no more strange than an educator-priest or a social worker priest." View
Stephen Wise
"How can a rabbi be vital and independent and helpful if he be tethered and muzzled?" View
Herman Wouk Herman Wouk
"If [the artist] understands his responsibility and acts on it—taking the art seriously always, himself never quite—he can make a contribution equal to, if different from, that of the scientist, the politician, and the jurist." View
Chien-Shiung Wu Chien-Shiung Wu
"The sudden liberation of our thinking on the very structure of the physical world was overwhelming." View
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