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.

70 - Lee Guittar, CC 1953
Guittar was a longtime editor and publisher at The San Francisco Examiner, winning numerous awards during the paper's golden years. He also worked as the publisher of The Denver Post and now chairs the advisory board of newswire service United Press International. Some of his most notable achievements came from his time as an executive for Hearst Publications, which publishes Seventeen, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and other major national magazines.

69 - Edward Rice, CC 1940
There was almost nothing Rice didn't do. A prolific author, he wrote books on everything from the Ganges River to ancient Babylon to Margaret Mead, as well as a bestselling biography of a 19th century British explorer, Captain Sir Francis Richard Burton, and a biography of the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton, CC '38 and his long-time friend since the two worked on the Jester. A traveler and photographer, he did photographic medical reports for the UN (in the process, he was stoned by peasants in Bangladesh and was nearly killed by a maharajah on a peacock hunt in India). He also founded the ecumenical magazine Jubilee and he was an excellent painter.

68 - James Shenton, CC 1949
Perhaps Columbia's most beloved professor of the last half century, Shenton, an American history scholar who was an expert on immigration and ethnicity, was a legend among generations of students. The author of An Historian's History of the United States, he was known for his lively personality and extemporaneous teaching style. Shenton often taught twice the normal teaching load, and he also led noteworthy summer seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Shenton was a member of the faculty for five decades, up until his death in 2003.

67 - Max Frankel, CC 1952
As an undergraduate, Frankel took a job with The New York Times covering Columbia University. Thus began his illustrious 50-year career with the newspaper, in which Frankel served as Washington bureau chief, editorial page editor, and finally, from 1986-1994, executive editor, the paper's highest editorial post. In 1972, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Richard Nixon's trip to China. Frankel, whose 1999 memoir is subtitled "The Times of My Life and My Life with the Times," is considered one of the century's preeminent journalists.

66 - William Milligan Sloane, CC 1868
A longtime professor of history and political science at Columbia and Princeton Universities, Sloane was also the founder and first president of the United States Olympic Committee. He chaired the American team's trip to the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 and served on the Olympic Committee for 30 years. Nearly half of the first Olympic team came from Princeton because of Sloane's appointment there. Sloane is also known for writing a landmark work on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte.

65 - Irving Langmuir, School of Mines 1903
A major player in the development of the radio vacuum tube, Langmuir became a rare solo winner of the Nobel Prize in 1932. That award, in the chemistry category, honored his many groundbreaking discoveries in the field of surface chemistry. He was well known among colleagues as an adventurer, spending much of his free time skiing, flying planes, and mountaineering. He served most of his career as a researcher and administrator at General Electric, pioneering several new techniques.

64 - Mary Antin, BC 1905
Antin was famous both as a writer and a social crusader from the time she had her first poem published professionally at age 15. A native Russian Jew, Antin's family emigrated to the slums of Boston when she was 12. A prominent supporter of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive party, Antin was a leading voice against restrictive immigrant legislation. Her autobiography, The Promised Land, was extremely successful and was used as required reading in many high schools through the 1940s.

63 - Joseph Mankiewicz, CC 1928
Mankiewicz is sometimes called one of the most brilliant American directors. He was writer, producer, and director for numerous films, including A Letter to Three Wives, Julius Caesar, and All About Eve, which won an unprecedented 14 Academy Awards in 1949. The brother of Herman Mankiewicz, CC '17 and the screenwriter of Citizen Kane, he is the only filmmaker to have won four Oscars in consecutive years for Best Screenplay and Best Director. Mankiewicz also directed La Boheme for the Metropolitan Opera in 1952.

62 - James Fletcher, CC 1940
One of six original winners of the College's John Jay Award in 1979, Fletcher was recognized for his accomplishments as the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration who negotiated the creation of the first-ever Space Shuttle and the Hubble Space Telescope. He served as the president of the University of Utah until he was named to the NASA post, where he served for seven years. After a nine year hiatus, Fletcher returned to lead NASA again in the wake of the Challenger disaster.

61 - Juliet Stuart Poyntz, BC 1907
One of the founding members of the American Communist Party, Poyntz ran for political office four times as a member of the Communist party. She was also a feminist and workers' rights crusader, serving as the education director for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In 1934, she dropped out of the American Communists in order to spy for the Soviet secret police. But after witnessing crimes committed by Joseph Stalin, Poyntz left the Soviets and was later assassinated by members of the secret police.

From Around the Web
ADVERTISEMENT
Newsletter
Recommended