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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 culminates this week, as we reveal the final portion of the list in daily 10-person installments. Coming next Monday: the full list, complete with Columbia's single most influential alum, and in-depth coverage of the year-long project.

60 - Baruj Benacerraf, GS 1942
A Venezuelan Jew who graduated from Columbia in 1942, Benacerraf was denied entrance to every medical school he applied to and was able to study immunology only because of a family friend's connection at the Medical College of Virginia. But after earning his degree, Benacerraf went on to become an acclaimed physician, earning the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1980 for his work in genetically determined cell structures that regulate immunological reactions. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science, and has won several major awards in physiology.

59 - Jacques Barzun, CC 1927
One of the most important figures in Columbia's history, Barzun was a founder of the discipline of cultural history and a key figure in developing the Core Curriculum. His many books include Romanticism and The Modern Ego. Barzun was appointed a history instructor immediately after graduating, and he eventually became a University professor in 1967. He also served as Columbia's provost. Last year, Barzun was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian award, by President George W. Bush.

58 - Randolph Bourne, CC 1913
Although his face and spine were deformed at birth, Bourne became one of the leading intellectuals--and one of the sharpest social critics--of his generation. Before his death in 1918 in the influenza epidemic, Bourne was an important essayist in the early days of The New Republic, which was founded in 1914. His outspoken position against American involvement in World War I made him unpopular, but his left-leaning commentary and cultural criticism are considered important influences in the nascent "bohemian" counterculture.

57 - Daniel Edelman, CC 1940
As the founder and chairman of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, Edelman has revolutionized the field of public relations. The company--the largest privately held independent public relations firm in the world--has made large contributions toward setting ethical standards in the industry. It has 38 offices on four continents; in 1999, it won the Public Relations Society of America Gold Anvil, the society's highest honor.

56 - Anna Quindlen, BC 1974
Quindlen is a journalist, novelist, and vocal feminist, as well as one of Barnard's most active and beloved alumnae. She rose to prominence as a columnist for The New York Times; her column "Life in the 30s" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 1995, she left the Times to write novels, a move that prompted much skepticism. Since then, her four books have received critical acclaim, and she currently writes a biweekly column for Newsweek. Quindlen is the chair of Barnard's board of trustees.

55 - Emanuel Celler, CC 1910
In 1922, Celler ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Tammany Hall Democrat stressing "the evils of Prohibition and the virtues of the League of Nations." Although his Brooklyn district had never elected a Democrat, Celler won, and he held onto his seat for 49 years and 10 months, the second longest term in Congressional history. Celler was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a lifelong advocate for immigrants' rights who fought for the liberalization of U.S. immigration laws.

54 - Helene Gayle, BC 1976
Arguably the top HIV/AIDS researcher in the country, Gayle has served as the director of the Center for Disease Controls national center for HIV, STD, and TB prevention since 1995. Much of her research is done through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributes millions of dollars each year to the global fight against AIDS. She is an assistant surgeon general for the United States government and has pioneered several new techniques in combating AIDS. In 1996, Gayle received the University Medal of Excellence, one of Columbia's highest alumni honors.

53 - Emanuel Ax, CC 1970
With degrees from both Columbia and The Julliard School in hand, Ax won the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize for piano at age 30. Since then, he has become one of the world's best contemporary pianists, working with every major figure in classical music over the course of his career. Together with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Ax won three Grammy Awards, and he has also won one for a solo album. Ax is a regular at Carnegie Hall but performs with symphonies across the globe. He was the 2003 winner of the College's Alexander Hamilton Medal.

52 - Michael Idvorsky Pupin, CC 1883
Pupin emigrated from Serbia to the U.S. when he was 15 years old with only five cents in his pocket. He went on to become a great scientist and inventor, receiving 34 original patents and the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for his autobiography, From Immigrant to Inventor. Pupin's most important invention was the overload coil, a piece of equipment he inserted in telephone lines to make long-distance calls possible. He taught at Columbia for 40 years, and the engineering laboratory is named for him.

51 -Art Garfunkel, CC 1965
Garfunkel began playing music with childhood friend Paul Simon long before his Columbia days, but much of their trademark work was created while he was studying in Morningside Heights. Just two years after earning a Columbia masters degree in mathematics, Garfunkel had won two Grammy Awards for "Mrs. Robinson." Since then, the duo has become a tenet of American folk rock music, earning three more Grammys and international acclaim. They still tour together, and Garfunkel has released two solo albums as well.

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