Three pieces of Columbia-related real-world news: first, some dude named Barack Obama has been chosen as TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. The most interesting part of the feature are “previously unpublished photos” of a very cool lookin’ Obama, taken while he was at Occidental, a year before arriving at Columbia. One of the photos (at right) has a cigarette that looks enough like a blunt that Matt Drudge has it up on his front page already.

In endowment news, Yale estimates that its endowment has fallen 25% since the end of June, further adding that it expects no growth until fiscal 2011. As a result, Yale will be cutting expenses by slowing salary growth and delaying construction of several new buildings.

Finally, a Columbia University tech start-up has won a national award. Hey, if this is a good time to found a bank, maybe tech start-ups can work as well.