Whenever I’m watching one of shows in the Law & Order franchise there tends to be a university mentioned.  Characters including Stabler’s daughter Kathleen and Fin’s son Ken attended the fictitious Hudson University.  NYU and Columbia University were highlighted as well.  For those SVU fans you’ll probably remember that Stabler’s daughter Maureen wanted to attend Columbia but he forgot to send in the application fee so she too attended Hudson.

Institution of Higher Learning

I’m not gifted or talented in any area.  I do however see the importance of a good education.  While I have a bachelor’s, two master’s and I’m only two classes and a dissertation away from my doctorate, it became abundantly clear I didn’t understand the full meaning of alumnus/alumni.  I always thought those words meant a person/ people  who “graduated” from a given school.  I didn’t realize that all you had to do was to “attend” said institution to be considered an alumnus.  It goes to show there’s always room for continued learning.

Senior Staff Developer, Consultant, Instructor and Author Jennifer Serravallo (center)

The Master Lucy Calkins at Work; Founding Director of the TCRWP, Incredible Author and Co-director of the Literacy Specialist Program

My average abilities and I received a bachelor of science and our first master of science degree at public universities.  I graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, or MIZZOU,  the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River and the largest university in the state with a bachelor’s degree.  I later went on to the lesser known University of Missouri-St. Louis, or UMSL for a master’s.  Feeling empowered I attended Lindenwood University, a private institution for my second master’s and doctorate degrees which simply meant the price tag my parents endured was a bit higher.  Never, and I mean never in my wildest dreams did I or could I imagine ever attending a prestigious, Ivy League school.

Deputy Director of the TCWRP at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Instructor and Author Kathleen Tolan (center)

So when I heard that colleagues of mine with I.Q.’s surely no higher than mine were attending a learning institute at Columbia University and that I could apply, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Having the full understanding that I would be walking the same halls as some of the most intelligent, talented and successful people that ever lived on Earth I had to apply.

And so it was. I would be one of the thousands of educators who emerged from the subway and

A Signal While on the Subway, “We’re Here”!

marched along Broadway to enter Teachers College. For the past four years I have participated in learning institutes and learned under some of the brightest minds in field of education.

As I researched Columbia, I was enamored  by its amazingly rich history.  I’m still in awe by all I discovered.  I’ve tried to include some of the mentionables. People to note who attended Columbia can be found at biography.com. The list includes nine Justices of the United States, 20 living billionaires,  25 Academy Award winners, and 29  heads of state, including three United States Presidents.  Both Theodore and Franklin D Roosevelt graduated from Harvard University and went on to law school at Columbia where neither earned a law degree.  Teddy Roosevelt was the driving force behind reforming safety practices in college football, bringing about the NCAA.  President Obama earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science then went on to Harvard University, our nation’s first institution of higher learning where he earned his law degree.

Staff developer and Instructor Jerry Maraia

Its Inception

  • Original name:  King’s College
  • Founded: 1754 by charter from King George II of England
  • Oldest institution of higher learning in New York and fifth oldest in the United States

    Alma Mater

  • Location:  school house in Trinity Church in lower Manhattan
  • First dean and only professor at the time:  Samuel Jackson
  • First student Body:  eight

Early Years

  • In 1767 became the first American medical school was founded
  • In 1775 commencement was cancelled because of the Revolutionary War.
  • By 1776, classes were cancelled (for eight years)
  • The campus served as a military hospital for the Continental army then by the British when they occupied Manhattan

    Staff Developer, Instructor and Author Shanna Schwartz (center)

  • Many affiliated with Columbia were originally on the side of the crown but later went on to instrumental in the founding of our country, namely Alexander Hamilton (Class of 1778), John Jay (Class of 1764), Gouverneur Morris (Class of 1768) and Robert R. Livingston (Class of 1765)
  • Reopened in 1784 as Columbia College (Land of Columbus) with Hamilton and Jay leading the charge
  • It’s been parked along streets such as Wall Street, Park Place, Madison Avenue and Broadway
  • The university’s current charter has been in force since 1810

The Beginning of Intercollegiate Sports at Columbia




Further Changes

  • By 1892-Various degree options were offered
    • The School of Mines (now Engineering)
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Nursing
    • The School of Library Service (now closed)
    • The School of Architecture
    • The Law School had been established
    • What is now known as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

      Early Columbia University Press Logo

    • Affiliated institutions Barnard College and Teachers College
    • 1896-Renamed Columbia University in the City of New York, the undergraduate school remaining Columbia College
    • 1897-the Morningside campus opened its doors

      Pinch Me Because I Must be Dreaming

    Let’s Go Lions!!!

20th Century

  • the modern science of anthropology and the foundation of modern genetics established
  • Responding to WWI, in 1919 the first course of what became the Core Curriculum, titled “War and Peace Studies” was offered
  • the birthplace of FM radio
  • the first North American site where the atom was split
  • A few legendary faculty members
    • Jacques Barzun ’27
    • Mark Van Doren
    • Lionel Trilling ’25
    • I.I. Rabi
  • the 1940s, members of the Beat Generation attended Columbia
    • Allen Ginsberg ’48
    • Jack Kerouac ’44
  • In 1966, the country’s oldest gay rights advocacy group, the Student Homophile League, was founded
  • In 1973, the Black Student Organization was established
  • In 1983, Columbia College became the last Ivy League school to admit women

    Low Memorial Library, Where Annual Pulitzer Luncheon is Held

  • Typically ranked as the fourth most sought out U. S. institution in which to learn
  • Administers the Pulitzer Prize (Shout out to Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer who was the publisher for the New York World and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch!!!)
  • Has ties to more Nobel Prize laureates than any other academic institution in the world

Look Mom!

So, getting back to the word alumnus, does it mean that I too am one of Columbia University? While they may not be degrees, I do have the certificates of participation and keep in mind I have dined at Tom’s Restaurant!

Hi Mom!










About ksimonewilson

I'm looking forward to sharing my New York experiences that have been highlighted on television and in movies.

3 responses »

  1. Ariadne says:

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