In celebration of the University's 250th anniversary, Spectator ranked the 250 greatest Columbians through the ages, from number 250 to number 1. The project began on Oct. 17, 2003 with the 250th alum, Chet Forte, CC 1957.
Below is the Spectator’s rank of GS alumni, please note that this is not an official University list. To view the entire list of 250 greatest Columbians, visit the Spectator's website.
Spectator’s Top 250 Alumni List - GS
245 - Jacques Pépin, GS 1970 Perhaps best known for his partnership with Julia Child on PBS' "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" series, Pépin is one of America's best-known chefs. He was the personal chef to three French heads of state, and worked in the culinary industry in New York for several years before beginning studies at Columbia. The Dean of Special Programs at the French Culinary Institute in New York, Pépin also teaches at Boston University.
229 - Ezra Mintz, GS 1959 Mintz started the technology company Colorgraphic in 1981. At first it manufactured terminals and monitors, but market shifts drove the company to produce multi-screen video adapters, which allow an image to span across the physical limits of the screen. This technology is used for financial trading, emergency medical services, and seismic recording.
199 - Susan Ellen Mesinai, GS 1965 Mesinai's interest in human rights led her to become a consultant for a Swedish-Russian working group investigating the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swede who saved the lives of at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II. Wallenberg disappeared in the Soviet Gulag in 1947, but no official record of his death has ever been found. Mesinai is also the founder of the ARK Project, a human rights organization that searches for foreign prisoners of the Gulag.
193 - John Tauranac, GS 1963 The chief designer of the award-winning New York City subway map of 1979, Tauranac now teaches New York history and architecture at NYU's School of Continuing Education. He has written numerous works about the city, including The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, Elegant New York, and Manhattan Block by Block: A Street Atlas. His latest project, Manhattan Line by Line: A Subway and Bus Atlas, is due for release this month.
159 - Patricia Robinson, GS 1955 The wife of former president of Trinidad and Tobago, Arthur N.R. Robinson, Patricia Robinson was an advocate for many political and social causes. She was a member of the International Leaders for Mental Health, a committee of prominent women in world politics founded by Rosalynn Carter. Robinson also served as the chairwoman of Womenís World Banking, Limited, and with her husband, she sponsored the International Year of Volunteers in 2001.
149 - Irma B. Jaffe, GS 1958 Jaffe left college at the University of Illinois at age 18 in order to get married. Twenty years later, she enrolled at the School of General Studies and graduated magna cum laude. After graduation, she began a successful career as an art historian, earning her first job at age 40. She created the fine arts program at Fordham University and later served as the curator of New York's Whitney Museum.
146 - Moshe Gerstenhaber, GS 1964 A big name in European business, Gerstenhaber founded Europe's largest print and copy franchise, Kall-Kwik Printing. After studying economics at Columbia, he attended the London School of Economics and studied postgraduate business administration. He also worked in Israel for the ministry of defense. Gerstenhaber is an independent governor of Middlesex University in London, and he is a strong advocate of lifelong learning.
145 - Kristi Zea, GS 1974 Though she has worked on over 30 films in the last 20 years, including Goodfellas, Philadelphia, and Silence of the Lambs, Zea is remembered primarily for her Academy Award-winning work as the producer of the 1997 Jack Nicholson film As Good as it Gets. She took home the Best Picture statue for that film, as well as several critics' choice awards. Zea has worked on almost every technical aspect of filmmaking--from miscellaneous crew work to costume design to the producer's role.
130 - Edward Cecil Harris, GS 1971 A pioneer in his field, Harris is memorialized as an archaeologist through the name of the standard methodology for organizing data from archaeological digs: the Harris Matrix. The matrix, which Harris developed as his doctoral thesis in 1973, allows scientists to order the artifacts and events of a particular site by date. A native of Bermuda, Harris spent much of his life in England and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.
126 - Peter Barton, GS 1972 Barton left a position as a top aide to New York governor Hugh Carey in 1979 to attend business school. He never looked back to politics, joining cable company Tele-Communications, Inc., where he would define his career. He served as president of TCI's Cable Value Network, which later became the QVC home shopping network. Later in life, Barton founded the prominent consumer watchdog group Privacy Foundation, which he funded with his fortune made from his days at TCI.
90 - R. W. Apple, GS 1961 Known to colleagues only as "Johnny," Apple is the king of newspaper reporters. In The New York Times, his byline nowadays can be seen atop everything from restaurant reviews to political analyses. From 1985 to 1997, he was The Times' chief Washington correspondent, and from 1992 to 1997 he was Washington bureau chief. He has also been the bureau chief in places as varied as Albany, Saigon, and Moscow. Apple has interviewed every president since Lyndon B. Johnson, and is one of the most respected figures in journalism.
60 - Baruj Benacerraf, GS 1942 A Venezuelan Jew who graduated from Columbia in 1942, Benacerraf was denied entrance to every medical school he applied to and was able to study immunology only because of a family friend's connection at the Medical College of Virginia. But after earning his degree, Benacerraf went on to become an acclaimed physician, earning the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1980 for his work in genetically determined cell structures that regulate immunological reactions. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science, and has won several major awards in physiology.
22 - Amelia Earhart, GS 1919-1920 Being the first was common for Earhart. She was the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airplane in 1928, the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932, and the first woman to fly solo from Honolulu to California in 1935. But perhaps Earhart's best-known adventure was the one that made her a legend, her failed flight around the globe that ended in her disappearance in 1937. A little-known Columbia affiliate, she attended classes for only one semester as a student in a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at the School of General Studies.
10 – Federico García Lorca , GS 1929 García Lorca was one of the most talented and beloved literary figures in Spain's history. He was a poet and playwright who was able to conflate the two genres, producing a form of poetry for the stage. In Madrid, he became friends with the painter Salvadore Dali, the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and the poet Rafael Alberti--a group that would become known as Generacion del 27. García Lorca was an experimental poet who combined aspects of folklore with Surrealism and often dealt with dark and mystical themes. Among his most important books of poetry are Romancero Gitano (or The Gypsy Poems) and Poeta in Nueva York (or Poet in New York), the latter of which he wrote while studying at Columbia. As a dramatist, he is best-known for his dark tragedies that challenge realism. Many of his plays had left-wing social implications, which made García Lorca a controversial figure. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, he was murdered by Franco's Nationalists, who considered intellectuals dangerous. García Lorca's death made him a national sensation in Spain.