general studies Archive



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img February 15, 20162:03 pmimg 1 Comments

Columbia_University_-_Low_Memorial_Library-DIt is with great sadness that Bwog informs you of the passing of a fellow student, Sarah Elizabeth Matthews, a GS undergraduate majoring in History and Theory of Architecture. She was a kind member of the Columbia community, and she will be missed. Resources are available on campus for anyone who needs assistance during this time.

The email informing students of her passing has been transcribed below.

Dear Students,

It is with sadness that I share the following message with you, sent today by Tom Harford, dean of students in the School of General Studies.

Do not hesitate to reach out to your advising dean, residential adviser, student group adviser, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), Office of the University Chaplain, or seek other available resources should you need support. Let me know if you have any difficulty getting the assistance you need. Please continue to take care of yourself and each other.


Cristen Kromm
Dean of Undergraduate Student Life
Columbia College & The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Dear students,

It is with sadness that I write to share with you the news of the passing of GS undergraduate student, Sarah Elizabeth Matthews, who succumbed to a serious illness. Sarah joined us at the School of General Studies in the Spring of 2014 as a transfer student from Barnard College. She majored in the History and Theory of Architecture.She was kind, gentle, fiercely intelligent, and deeply humane.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Sarah’s family and friends during this very difficult time. Her father has informed us that gifts in Sarah’s memory can be made to City Harvest, an organization that combats food insecurity in New York City (, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Whenever we lose someone within our community, we are all affected, whether or not we know the person well. Please know that your academic advisor, the staff at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), and members of the Office of the University Chaplain are all available to provide you with any additional support you may need at this time. I have listed contact information for these resources below.

If you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

With sympathy,
Tom Harford
Dean of Students



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img April 08, 201512:31 pmimg 1 Comments

President of Kellogg Europe Christopher Hood '91

President of Kellogg Europe Christopher Hood ’91

Earlier this afternoon, Dean Awn sent out an email to General Studies graduating seniors announcing the Class of 2015’s Class Day speakers. The Keynote speaker is Kellogg Europe President Christopher Hood (GS ’91), the Valedictorian is Lindsay Hadad, and the Salutatorian is Andrew King. Class Day will take place on Monday, May 18th. You can read bios of the speakers here, and you can read the full statement below:

Dear Graduating Seniors,

I look forward to celebrating your graduation at the GS Class Day ceremony and reception on Monday, May 18 at 9 a.m., and again at the University’s 261th Commencement on Wednesday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m.
Class Day is a magnificent event that celebrates you and your fellow graduates as well as the impressive achievements of the Class of 2015. At Class Day, each one of you will be presented by name to the Columbia Provost and assembled faculty and guests.
In celebration of your accomplishments, I am pleased to announce the Class Day keynote speaker and the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2015.

Class Day Keynote Speaker | Kellogg Europe President Christopher Hood ’91
This year’s Class Day keynote speaker is distinguished School of General Studies alumnus and President of Kellogg Europe Christopher Hood ‘91, ‘93BUS. Based in Geneva, Hood has served as President since 2013 and is a member of the Kellogg Company’s Global Leadership Team. He initially joined Kellogg as vice president of European snacks in 2012.
In addition to serving as Kellogg’s President for European operations, Hood also serves on the Board of Food Drink Europe, the European Brands Association, the Kellogg-Ulker joint venture in Turkey, and the Bisco Misr Company in Egypt. He is also a former Board member of the U.S. Snack Food Association and the European Snacks Association.
Prior to his career at Kellogg’s, Hood had a distinguished, 19-year career at Proctor and Gamble in marketing and general management. In these roles, he worked with top brands such as Folger’s, Hawaiian Punch, and Pringles, and with leading retailers including Tesco and Walmart.
Prior to his tenure at Proctor and Gamble and before enrolling at Columbia, Hood, a St. Paul, Minnesota native, served as both a sous chef and an executive chef at top Boston-area restaurants, which include The Landmark Inn and The Harvest Restaurant. After a successful career as a chef, he left the industry to pursue his undergraduate studies.
Hood applied and was accepted to Columbia University School of General Studies in the fall of 1989. He attended full-time majoring in economics and had a nearly perfect academic record earning a place on Dean’s List for the six semesters he was enrolled. Hood graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, in 1991 and was awarded the Matthew M. Fryde Prize for excellence in economics. Shortly after graduating from GS, he matriculated at Columbia Business School where, in 1993, he earned a Master of Business with dual concentrations in marketing and international business.

You can read the rest of the announcement after the jump.



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img November 22, 201311:37 amimg 9 Comments

Despite the apparent apathy of the general studies students, the GS flagpole went up in front of Lewisohn earlier this week. It’s intended to help integrate general studies students with the rest of the undergraduates…somehow. There’s supposed to be a flag-raising ceremony sometime later this week, according to Spec.

General studies flagpole

The finishing touches



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img May 18, 20134:30 pmimg 22 Comments

Illustrations by Elisa Mirkil

Illustrations by Elisa Mirkil

Another article from the May issue of The Blue and White. Read on forthe final installment of managing editor Anna Bahr’s three-part series on the student debt at Columbia. This last part looks at General Studies. To review the first two pieces, which examine student loans in CC/SEAS and financial aid for international students, please visit

Just two years ago, Peter Awn, Dean of the School of General Studies, described the limited financial aid available to GS students as “untenable.” That year, GS students received, “percentage-wise, functionally half the financial aid dollars that [were] available to Columbia College students,” a dearth cornering GS undergrads into a future of student debt. Today, GS has surpassed its $25 million fundraising goal as part of the university-wide Campaign for Undergraduate Education—92 percent of which Awn estimates will expand the aid pool in the form of scholarships and grants. With this addition, he believes “the school has turned a corner.”

Awn’s optimism for the future of Columbia’s nontraditional undergraduate college surprised me. Nearly every GS student I interviewed shared a common grievance—the same frustration echoed in opinion pieces in the Spectator and desperate Bwog comments for years—that the value of a Columbia degree is compromised when it demands that scholars be borrowers.

When Hal Levy, GS ’14, graduates, he will owe nearly $160,000 in private student loans. “If I don’t go bankrupt, at the very least I will have no spending money for ten years. I’ll probably be wearing these same ratty clothes, trying to pay off my loans,” he sighed. GS prides itself on being one of a kind—a unique education, nonexistent at other Ivies, in which a diverse collection of nontraditional students earn traditional bachelor’s degrees. But its current program remains a feasible option for only one kind of student: he who can readily afford it. (more…)



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img November 23, 20115:00 pmimg 6 Comments

Dean Peter Awn sent out this email to all GS students earlier today, subject line: “Meleagris Gallopavo.” (That’s the Wild Turkey, to you plebs) If this (or this) doesn’t get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, we don’t know what will.

Dear Students,

They cluck, they flail, they fold their necks back to catch the rain
and drown—meleagris gallopavo is, in Ben Franklin’s opinion, more
American than the bald eagle.  In its domesticated version, however,
it exhibits a diminished intellectual capacity equaled only by members
of Congress.  Perhaps that is why the bird is so thoroughly American.

Whether you want to or not, you must this festive Thursday consume the
tasteless treat, whose cardboard like texture is renowned around the
globe.  In order for you to steel yourself for this culinary trial,
you will need to dedicate time this evening to meditate, fast, and, if
necessary, flagellate yourself with a drumstick.  May the loving aura
of the Cosmic Turkey embrace you tomorrow and for many years to come.
Have the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays!

Peter J. Awn


Columbia University School of General Studies



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img November 14, 20119:00 amimg 4 Comments


Your whole life just got squeezed into one of these

Applying: Columbia sure isn’t the easiest school to get into, but they’ll be much more excited about you if you happen to be a military veteran. (NYTimes)

Extracurriculars: Outside of classes, you may find time to participate in student groups like the Quidditch team. And maybe you’ll even make it to the Quidditch World Cup, which took place this weekend (Gothamist)

The Job Hunt: Before long, your parents and more exceptional friends will provide not-too-subtle reminders of your unemployment. Panic will ensue, and you’ll probably apply to Apple or Google. But let’s be real: it’s Columbia, so odds are you’re shooting for that I-Banking job too. (WSJ)

Coming Back for More: After a few years in the real world, you might be overcome by a strange desire to return to school. Turns out Columbia isn’t a bad place to do it, as our Executive MBA Program is number two in the nation. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Deciding to Donate: After amassing your wealth many years down the road, you might decide to increase your children’s chance of admission display your bottomless generosity by donating. But you might not want to do it to a school’s science program. (NYMag)

Trivialization of your existence via Wikimedia



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img October 27, 200910:17 amimg 1 Comments


Dane Cook reports.

This Monday’s SGA meeting featured special guest and master of alliteration Professor Kathryn Kolbert. Recently appointed as the director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Professor Kolbert spoke at length about the Athena Center’s soon-to-be-launched leadership program. Aiming to improve leadership training both inside and outside of the classroom, the program will bestow the coveted ‘Athena Scholar’ distinction on participants’ transcripts.  The program will have four main requirements, including a curriculum of approved courses, an internship or mentoring activity, and an off-campus independent leadership project.

“Leadership is something you learn to do, and therefore keeping the program open to as many students as possible is my goal,” Kolbert explained. She explicitly extended an open invitation to the council for input and involvement and hopes the program will reflect students’ wants and needs as accurately as possible. Moreover, Kolbert intends to include a student advisory board that will aid in shaping the program alongside the faculty advisory committee and an alumni council, as well as a board of women leaders around the country. By creating such a collaborative project, the Athena Center aspires to reach beyond any given pool of participants to the Barnard community at large: “I’m hoping more than anything that we create at Barnard the ethic that leadership involves not only the current group, but also the next group.” 

After a brief Q & A, Professor Kolbert graciously expressed her gratitude for SGA’s efficiency. As she bid farewell, she praised, “Thank you for keeping questions short so I can catch the Eagles game,” before qualifying, “You better watch it,  because I’m an Phillies fan too.”




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img May 28, 20092:38 pmimg 41 Comments

Several New York blogs have picked up on an Obsessed TV interview with “Real Housewife of New York” Kelly Killoren Bensimon, and all seem to agree the best quote is about how she got into the School of General Studies:

A friend of mine said you should really go to Columbia, they have an amazing journalism department there. And so I actually went to the school and I said to them, I said, ‘You know, if you take me, I, you know, you just gotta give me a chance, and if you take me, then I will be the best student, I will do whatever it is, whatever you need whenever you need it. I promise you, you know, I will not be a mistake.’ And this man, the dean, was like, ‘Who are you? Like, what? No, no, no. We have a process here. You have to fill out an application.’ And I was like, ‘No no no, It’s nice you have an application, I’ve already sent that in, but I want to go here, and I really really wanted to go there.’ And he let me in.

Combined with the allegations against her for assaulting her boyfriend and stealing jewelry ideas, GS students everywhere haven’t been this embarrassed since the last time they had to…oh screw it, the Varsity Show beat those jokes into the ground.

But perhaps GS can claim Bensimon is simply dumber with age. In April 1996, she talked about balancing her studying, modeling, and charity work to the now-defunct Columbia Observer, saying “Columbia is like just one of my fingers. But being part of my body I treat it with the same respect that I do my work or charity or whatever I’m doing.” Then again, maybe not.



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img February 12, 20097:24 amimg 17 Comments

Harvard rejects can always feel bad that Ted Kaczynski was accepted, and now Columbia has its very own esteemed criminal alumni. Esther Reed, a Montana woman who attended Columbia for two years under an assumed identity, was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for identity theft.

Starting in 2004, Reed spent two years studying in New York under the assumed name Brooke Henson. Reed is pictured on the right, and Henson is on the left. Henson, a South Carolina woman, went missing in 1999. Though police still have a missing persons webpage for her that’s still soliciting leads on her whereabouts, the lead detective believes the real Henson was murdered (Reed was not involved in her disappearance). The working theory is that she stole Henson’s identity after seeing a news story about her. More after the jump (more…)



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img December 02, 200811:51 amimg 7 Comments

Bwog would like to invite you to say hello to GS’s new Owl Logo! You’ll recall that their old Owl, Gulliver, was owlnapped from Harford Community College.

Anyway, this new guy (gal?) is so snazzy with the little thumbs up. Well, thumbs up to you too New Gulliver. 



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img November 19, 20085:44 amimg 14 Comments

dfdfasdfaDoes anyone actually know what anthropology is?

What does Evo love more: nationalization of oil or speaking at Columbia

Should GS deans be chosen in the same way as GS students–far too late?

Did you know that, like, East 116th is TOTALLY less gentrified than, like, Columbia?  I think she actually saw a poor person!

Can Columbia sports only win through not telling anyone about injuries to players?



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img October 21, 20088:00 amimg 8 Comments

 Fu Foundation Bureau Chief Sean Zimmermann reports from last night’s ESC meeting.

At last night ESC meeting, many changes were afoot within the ESC you know and love. Even though CourseWorks is maybe probably on the outs, the Council’s Director of Technology Kenny Rivera is developing a CourseWorks application for the iPhone—to better check that your professor didn’t post the assigned reading, on the go!

And then there was a bit of odd news concerning GS’s logo, which needs to be replaced because it was apparently taken from a community college. You remember Gulliver, yes? ESC did not mention which community college shares GS’s logo, but a quick Google Image search reveals that Harford Community College is a possibility.




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img September 08, 20081:46 pmimg 20 Comments

Earlier today, we spoke to SGA President Sarah Besnoff, who explained that despite reports of Swipe Access’ imminence, in fact, a CCSC/SEAS survey on the issue is the next step in actually moving forward on this thing.

According to CCSC VP of Policy Adil Ahmed, this survey will be sent out “shortly.” CCSC is currently working with Housing and Dining, and then must present their efforts to Security.

As for the GS question, according to Ahmed: “[CCSC has] only talked about BC and will be incorporating GS into the discussions shortly. We’re going to work on this in stages with BC getting first priority.”  



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img September 05, 20082:15 pmimg 11 Comments

-founder Bari Weiss, CC ’07, writes in the (possibly ill-fated) New York Sun today about the 19 incoming Columbia GS first-years who had previously served in the Armed Forces.

(According to Weiss, GS was created in 1947 partly as a response to the high number of ex-soldiers returning from WWII.)

Weiss spoke to a number of the 19 first-years about the differences between military life and academic life, and reactions range from confident about success (“You sit down next to these girls who are 18 years old and they’ve got plastic jewelry from Claire’s and they’re trying to understand the rise and fall of the USSR. They can do it; but we’ve seen dictators rise and fall”) to thankful for the ability to appreciate the civilian life: “I’m just happy to be alive. I’m ecstatic here.”



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img May 20, 20081:09 pmimg 28 Comments

is reporting that a mother and a daughter graduated together from GS yesterday. “‘It was very competitive, she loves to compete. Like what grade did you get on your paper? How well did you do on your midterm? And in the end when I got a B+ and she got an A-, she was like “I did better than you did,” she rubbed it in my face,’ says mother Insaf Abdullah.” As for post-grad plans, daughter plans to return to the Middle East while mother opts for grad school.  

Bwog offers accolades to both mother and daughter, but frankly we’re a bit shocked that this exact situation has never been lampooned in a Varsity Show before.

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