Obama Isn’t All That Special

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As noted in the Bwoglines, Barack Obama, CC ’83, was this morning awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, while even the president admitted that he does “not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments,” and even though Wikipedia’s article on the “2009 Nobel Peace Prize” is mostly about the controversy, Columbia can still increase its Nobel count by one. Obama’s name, though, is only the most recent addition to a very long list. 

In total, according to Columbia’s official numbers (which do not include those affiliated with the school for less than a year), as of today 79 alumni, faculty and researchers have gone on to win the prize, the third-highest official total in the world. Just the university’s 27 laureates in physics (the largest category, followed by 20 in physiology or medicine, and 14 in economics) are five more than UPenn’s entire total of 22. 78 of these prizes have been received since 1931; in other words, Columbia has averaged one Nobel laureate a year for more than three-quarters of a century. Not so exclusive now, eh?

Nor is Obama is the first Columbia affiliate, or even first alumnus, to win the Nobel Peace Prize, though he is the first to win it in many a year. Then-President and all-around stud Theodore Roosevelt (who attended, but did not graduate, Columbia Law School) won in 1906 for helping to end the Russo-Japanese war, while university President/library namesake Nicholas Murray Butler (CC 1882) received the prize in 1931 for his work as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Still, it’s one more Nobel Peace Prize than we’ve won, so hats off nonetheless.

– Photo: mobo85/Flickr


  1. grammar-nazi  

    should be "who attended, but did not graduate FROM, Columbia law"

  2. really bwog?  

    You failed to mention how undeserving this award is to obama. Either way, a terrorist aka arafat received it in '94 so the award has become meaningless...

    • really commenter?

      You failed to mention how pretty much every news organization has covered this point of view. Either way, a commenter aka a smug, mean-spirited individual has been trolling since '06 so the comments section has become meaningless...

      • really moron?

        I just find it so pathetic how you've so rarely if ever encountered any opposing views in your classes that you think the mention of such a view on this website is a sure indication of someone from the "outside."
        And the certainty with which you articulate this rather absurd presumption is even perhaps more laughable than the assumption itself.

        • just because  

          you get your news from Fox doesn't mean I have to.

          but in all seriousness... our president just won the Nobel Peace Prize. When, oh when, my dear partisan, should we rally around country and president?

          Republicans these days have become so damned partisan, they verge on anti-americansim. You lost the election; suck it up and deal. Stop lying to the public and pandering to the dumb.

          Hrm... I seem to have drifted off topic. Enjoy, thread.

          • Lol

            That's right, sweetie. Just like the DNC said, everyone who thinks the Nobel prize is absurd and ridiculous is anti-American and siding with terrorists!!

            Im sure your attitude towards dissent this summer is just as charming.

            [email protected]

          • dissent  


            nothing is wrong with dissent. but calling the president anti-American and unpatriotic (or comparing him to Hitler) goes beyond the realm of proper debate, wouldn't you agree?

  3. why not bill clinton?

    I feel like he did a lot more for peace - and still does - than Obama has. Clinton ended ethnic cleansing, worked tirelessly towards peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and worked multilaterally and diplomatically, something the prize committee seems to admire in this year's recipient. I like Obama, but a speech in Cairo and some remarks about nuclear disarmament aren't, to me, signs of someone deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, and there's a little something about nearly 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more to come.

    From Alfred Nobel's will, the prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Hmmm. Oh well, guess I'm just some troll, right? Lol.

  4. anon  

    woot! yea columbia!

  5. alum

    from analystforum.com (CFA study site):

    Re: Obama wins Nobel peace prize
    Posted by: mossy695 (IP Logged)
    Date: October 9, 2009 10:16AM

    Man I really feel bad for all the pageant queens out there who have been for years hoping and praying for world peace (while doing nothing of tangible value to advance their cause). Poor girls must feel so snubbed right now!

  6. please  

    please fix the obvious errors in this post

  7. The bho peoples party

    Chairman Bam has brought great honor to his fellow comrades. Oppressed workers of the world unite behind the One!

  8. ~Sigh~

    He does not deserve this at all. There were more deserving candidates there. This isn't going to affect the Nuclear NPT. Iran and North Korea are going to do whatever the f*ck they want to do, and we will continue to reward them for bad behavior. For example, even though NK continues to build its program, we still reward them with aid and nothing will change. I wouldn't be surprised if this happened in Iran.

  9. Alum

    The official list keeps changing. It's one thing for Public Affairs to add a laureate whom they had not realized was connected to Columbia, but quite another to remove someone who had previously been listed. Konrad Lozenz (Medicine 1973), who spent his freshman year at the College before returning to his native Austria, and Sidney Altman (Chemistry 1989), who spent two or three years as a grad student in the physics department, were both on the list the last time I looked at it.

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