Article Image
Columbia Spectator Staff

In celebration of the University's 250th anniversary, Spectator is ranking the 250 greatest Columbians through the ages, from number 250 to number 1. The project will culminate with the selection of the single most influential alum in May.

90 - R. W. Apple, GS 1961
Known to colleagues only as "Johnny," Apple is the king of newspaper reporters. In The New York Times, his byline nowadays can be seen atop everything from restaurant reviews to political analyses. From 1985 to 1997, he was The Times' chief Washington correspondent, and from 1992 to 1997 he was Washington bureau chief. He has also been the bureau chief in places as varied as Albany, Saigon, and Moscow. Apple has interviewed every president since Lyndon B. Johnson, and is one of the most respected figures in journalism.

89 - Barry Commoner, CC 1937
A pioneer in the creation of the environmental movement, Commoner was dubbed "the Paul Revere of Ecology." He has authored nine books, including the influential The Closing Circle, one of the first books to point out the high environmental costs associated with American technological development. He was also a 1980 candidate for president with the Citizens' Party, and in 1960 founded the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems to study humans' relationship with the environment.

88 - Leon Cooper, CC 1951
In 1972, Cooper and two other scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their groundbreaking research on the theory of superconductivity, commonly known as the BCS-theory. As the founder of Brown University's Center for Neural Science, he has extensively researched the functions of the brain. Cooper is the co-founder of Nestor, Inc., which develops computer systems that mimic human decisions in applications like mortgage origination and risk assessment.

87 - Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, CC 1951
Sulzberger was the publisher of The New York Times Company from 1963 to 1992, a position he inherited from his father, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and passed down to his son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. He oversaw a period of great expansion of the company, as it acquired ownership of additional newspapers, magazines, and other businesses, and became the vast corporation that it is today. He also served as the chairman of The American Newspaper Publisher's Association and is a trustee emeritus of Columbia. In 1992, he received the Columbia Journalism Award.

86 - Marilyn Laurie, BC 1959
For years the highest ranking woman at telecommunications giant AT&T, Laurie was the executive vice president of brand strategy and advertising as well as a member of the company's management executive committee. As chair of the AT&T Foundation, she gave $40 million per year to schools, social service programs, and art institutions. A renowned environmental advocate, in 1970 she helped create Earth Day. Laurie is currently a University trustee.

85 - Moran Weston, CC 1930
As the rector of Harlem's St. Philip's Episcopal Church from 1957 to 1982, Weston was a major figure among religious civil rights leaders during the 1950s and '60s, and was a member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He directed the first Negro Freedom Rally, held in Madison Square Garden, and worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent civil rights figures. He also directed construction of five non-profit housing developments in Harlem.

84 - Susan Stamberg, BC 1959
Now a special correspondent for National Public Radio, Stamberg was the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, and has won every major award in broadcasting. She was one of the pioneers of public radio, working at NPR from its birth in 1971. From 1972 to 1984, she served as host of the station's flagship program, All Things Considered. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Radio Hall of Fame, as well as winning the Dupont Award, considered radio's highest honor.

83 - Herawati Diah, BC 1941
Diah was the first Indonesian graduate of an American college and has since become a major activist for women's rights in the United States and internationally. As a journalist for over 30 years, Diah crusaded for equal representation of women in the Indonesian press. She has also been a major force in the movement to include women's issues on the Indonesian national agenda, and is credited in Indonesia as the most influential feminist leader in the country's history.

82 - Donald Clifford Brace, CC 1904
Harcourt Brace & Company, one of the most important American publishers, began when two former Columbia classmates quit their jobs at the respected publisher Henry Holt & Company to found a new company. Brace was one of those classmates, and under his and Alfred Harcourt's leadership, the company became a major force in the industry. Harcourt Brace has published some of the most notable works of the 20th century, including George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, as well as the works of Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, and William Golding.

81 - Alfred Harcourt, CC 1904
Harcourt and Donald Clifford Brace co-founded Harcourt Brace & Company together, but it is Harcourt, perhaps, who deserves most of the credit for their daring break from the Henry Holt publishing company. In 1919, Harcourt was a virtual partner with Holt, but when Holt refused to publish the works of Bertrand Russell, Harcourt quit. With him, he brought his friend Brace, most of the Holt company's employees, and several of the company's high-profile clients, including Sinclair Lewis.

From Around the Web