Actual Wisdom: Sunil Gulati

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Sunil Gulati

In case you haven’t thought about him enough while studying for Principles, Bwog brings you the next victim of Actual Wisdom: Sunil Gulati, Econ Prof and president of the US Soccer Federation. In addition to these commendable achievements, Bwog would also like to personally thank Professor Gulati with the idea for this series. Cheers!

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer:  Planning for the US to win the World Cup, while watching a soccer game (or teaching principles of Economics), free of everyday guilt for having failed to save the world.

Claim to fame:  I guess it’s the split personality between the soccer world and teaching at Columbia. And in a strange way friends in either of half of my life are envious of the other half of it.  My soccer friends think it’s pretty cool that I teach here while many of my Columbia colleagues would much prefer to talk soccer.

What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience?:   Spending a semester abroad at University College at Buckingham.  It was three months of a motivating academic experience followed by the usual 17 European capitals in three weeks on $5 a day.

What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard?:  Some years ago, a student in Principles of Economics missed the mid-term exam (without much of an excuse) and wanted a make-up.  I agreed but she then missed the make-up.  At the scheduled time for the 2nd make-up, she called and said couldn’t take the exam because she had broken up with her boyfriend the previous evening before and he needed consolation.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?: My cardiologist has recommended a low cholesterol diet.

Back in my day… I lived in a frat for a few weeks followed by Ruggles for a year, Intro Principles of Economics classes were taught in the basement of Butler Library, the University GPA was less than a 3.6 and Professor Elmes was chasing Guns and Roses around the country.

Three things you learned at Columbia:  

1. NYC is the center of the Universe

2. Columbia is the center of NYC

3. Alma Mater is the center of Columbia; ∎ Alma Mater is the center of the Universe.

What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general?  Whether it’s at Teach for America or Goldman Sachs, be passionate about what you do and optimistic about the future.  It makes getting out of bed every day a whole lot easier and life generally a lot more fun.


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  1. Anonymous  

    sort of love this. Not gonna lie.

  2. Anonymous  

    yo this guy really likes soccer apparently

  3. yay  

    finally some wise wisdom! never had him as a prof but wish i did... there's a reason why people wait over 24 hours in advance to get into his econ seminar

  4. Anonymous  

    so NYC = alma mater

  5. Ha  

    One of the best answers to the oral sex VS cheese question yet

  6. Anonymous

    "Professor Elmes was chasing Guns and Roses around the country"


  7. Tony Lee

    Love the man. His tests, not so much. :P

  8. open mind huh  

    "whether it's at teach for america or goldman sachs"

  9. Did you hear that

    Starbucks has a new drink specifically for econ majors?

    The Gu-latte!

  10. Anonymous  


  11. :)

    I loved his class last year, his final not so much!

  12. DAE  

    Does anyone else not really care for this guy? He's a fantastic lecturer and I learned a lot in Principals, but I found him smug and self-centered. At one of those lunches he has with undergrads (which all teachers should have btw) he was basically like "what are your names? now someone ask me how great I am."

  13. Well, in his defense  

    He actually holds professor lunches (which no one else does).

  14. Anonymous  

    Bwog, can you please please please work on getting wisdom from Professor Marianetti? He's kind of amazing.

  15. Anonymous

    The completely, self-centered dauchebaggery is what I like most about him. It adds character and makes him interesting.

  16. the mere fact

    that you call it "cheese" tells me you're not ready.

  17. what an insufferable prick

    god... let me get this straight. he approached bwog and said, hey, why dont you guys ask me questions so i can talk about how awesome I am? You guys can call it actual wisdom since, you know, I'm so wise

    this guy would not be more obviously arrogant if he had TOOL written on his forehead. So his main characteristic is that all his friends envy him?

    well I'm sure he envies the shit out of xavier sala i martin, president of fc barcelona (a football institution people actually care about) and is a million times cooler. he's also egocentric as fuck, but at least he's suave as hell, and is one of the world's most cited economists.

    gulati, on the other hand, is just a big head. and a pretty ugly one too. I mean look at the man's face. yeah that last comment was petty but still...

    • Anonymous  

      I've taken both Gulati's and Sala-i-Martin's classes... they do both think pretty highly of themselves, but Gulati sort of deserves to--he's the best professor I've ever had. Sala-i-Martin is a disorganized disaster; he may have made important contributions to the field, but in that case he should stay holed up in his office doing research, because he can't teach.

  18. Anonymous

    ooo you should get mercer to fill out one of these! shes pretty hilarious

  19. Anonymous  

    Are you so pissed at him because you didn't do well principles of Econ?
    and yes, Mercer is the master. She should be a jedi.

  20. Anonymous

    d-bag, but an excellent teacher

  21. Ugh,  

    He's not even that pretty!! I have this theory that if you cut off all his hair he'd look like a British man.

  22. i mean...  

    he's sometimes a good teacher, sometimes a good-humored guy, and sometimes intelligent and keeps you awake during lectures, and sometimes a bit cocky. what i never understood was why columbia students are crazy about him - he's not a star, just a good teacher.

    • Anonymous  

      Maybe it's because we're so starved for good teachers in these large intro classes. I mean, i've had some good profs in small classes, but Gulati is honestly the only really great professor (one of two or three in the "halfway decent" category) I've had in any class with over 25 students in it.

  23. Certain People I Know  

    When are they doing Jose Sanchez?

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