Columbia B-School Celebrates 100 Years

The ground breaking of the Columbia Business School building in 1923. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

The ground breaking of the Columbia Business School building in 1923. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

It’s amazing how things can change in 100 years.

In 1916, armies from Germany, France, and Great Britain were gridlocked in European trenches. Woodrow Wilson was leading the United States and created the National Park Service. “Anarchist” Emma Goldman was being arrested for distributing information about birth control. Pancho Villa was leading raiders into New Mexico. And the Chicago Cubs played (and won!) their first game at what is now Wrigley Field.

That year, the Columbia Business School was also established, becoming one of the first business schools in the United States, following in the steps of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—the first American business school, founded in 1881— and Harvard Business School, the first to offer an MBA, in 1908.

“Since 1916, Columbia Business School has been shaping the landscape of the modern business world as a producer of cutting-edge research and ideas, innovator in the way education is delivered, and developer of a global network of extraordinary influence,” writes Glenn Hubbard, Columbia Business School’s dean, in a prepared release from the school. “Throughout this year and next, our global community will join together in celebration, commemorating the School’s pivotal accomplishments and offering insight into what the future holds for industry and education. Together, we will help usher in a new century of impact, innovation, and community.”

To kick off the celebration, the school unveiled a new website that has videos highlighting the school’s past and providing a detailed history. Hubbard will also embark on a 14-city tour to connect with alumni, with the school hosting multiple centennial celebrations. “Since its inception, Columbia Business School has always been defined by the impact that our community has made,” Hubbard adds in the release. “As new challenges arise in future economies, I’m confident that our community will continue to be at the center of solving these challenges and creating a more prosperous world for all.  I’m excited to celebrate a century at the very center of business, and I hope all of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends will be a part of our centennial festivities.”

Over the past 100 years, Columbia Business School has spearheaded several innovations and changes and has established itself as one of the very best business schools in the world—often taking advantage of its ideal geographic location in Manhattan, arguably the economic epicenter of the modern world. Columbia graduates and professors have given the world value investing, consumer behavior theory, and even soy sauce, among many pioneering academic theories and business ideas.

Here are 10 of Columbia’s most notable alumni and contributions to business in the past century.

Professor Benjamin Graham in 1928. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

Professor Benjamin Graham in 1928. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

1. Value Investing

The method of identifying and buying undervalued stocks and bonds that has produced a slew of highly successful business people, perhaps most notably Warren Buffet, was created at Columbia by professors Benjamin Graham and David Dodd in 1928. The duo authored the groundbreaking book about this methodology, Security Analysis, in 1934, and Graham was known as the “Dean on Wall Street” during his time on faculty from 1928 to 1957. The research also helped produce Columbia’s “Wall Street Gurus,” Buffett, Mario Gabelli, and Glenn Greenberg.

Today, students are educated within the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing as the next generation of value investors.

2. Peter Kolesar’s award-winning and game-changing operations research

A current professor who holds three degrees from Columbia, Kolesar’s claim to fame is as operations guru. In 1975, he won the Lanchester Prize—regarded as the highest award in operations research—for his research into police and fire department deployment. He made major contributions to the New York City Fire Department’s “computerized control system”—a system that is still used today and was instrumental in the response and deployment of emergency services during the 9/11 tragedy.

3. Jonah Rockoff’s education research

David Dodd in 1934. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

David Dodd in 1934. Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School

Professor Jonah Rockoff’s research into “good teachers” and the impact these teachers can have on children’s life continues to inform educational policy discussions today. Rockoff’s research shows the effectiveness of teachers can be measured. Students who are taught by “high value-added” teachers have a higher likelihood of attending college (and higher-ranked colleges), earn larger salaries, save more for retirement, and have better chances of living in higher income areas, regardless of background or parental income. Rockoff’s research was also cited in President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address.

4. Professors John A. Howard and Jagdesh N. Sheth publish The Theory of Buyer Behavior in 1969

This theory was the introduction to consumer behavior research. The Howard Sheth Model combined social, psychological, and marketing influences on consumer choice in a coherent process. It was not only the first to explain consumer behavior through cognitive functioning, but also provided a testable depiction of the behavior and outcomes. The theory has of course led to multiple modern marketing models from the five stages of consumer buying processes to the black box model.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.