Bwog’s resident Portraiture Enthusiast Mahima Chablani returns with a second edition of Dead White Guys. This time, she’s here to provide the captions for the paintings surrounding the main stairs in Butler—no one is physically tall enough to come close to reading them. Next time you walk in, stop moaning about bed bugs and Redbull and give your eyes some visual stimuli.
Nicholas Murray Butler (surprise!) (1862-1947) by Augustus Vincent Tack in 1944: Butler served as twelfth president of Columbia from 1902-1945 (yes, that’s 43 years!). On the scale of Columbia overachiever-ness, Butler has outdone us all: from the years 1882 to 1887, Butler earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.; joined the Philosophy department; and co-founded the New York College for the Training of Teachers (now Teachers College). And his snazzy abilities didn’t just stop there. In the years 1920 and 1928, Butler ran for office with the campaign slogan “Pick Nick for a Picnic in November.” Many students regarded Butler as arrogant and controversial, like the ballsy Alan Ginsberg, who wrote “Butler has No Balls” on the window of his dorm in Hartley.
The Right Honourable George Grenville (1712-1770) by Sir Joshua Reynolds: Grenville was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1763-1765. He is best known for legislating the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act to help the nation recover financially from the Seven Years War.
Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) by Elie-Cristo Loveanu: Prior to becoming the thirty-fourth President of the United States, Eisenhower followed Butler as thirteenth president of Columbia from 1948-1953. During his tenure, however, he was mostly absent, as he was simultaneously campaigning for office and serving as Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe. Although he was rarely seen around Morningside Heights, he often attended football games at Baker Field and was instrumental in transforming a busy strip of 116th street into College Walk.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England by Griffith Baily Coale: This mural depicts the couple’s efficient thirty-minute visit to Columbia on June 10, 1939. Butler brought the two into Low Library, showed them the royal charter issued by King George II in 1754, and had them sign the University guest book.