Write Columbia's History
Columbia University: Who Could Ask for Anything More?
joe dorinson
Alum, Faculty
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1968
School of General Studies 1965
Columbia College 1958

I entered Columbia College in 1954, a neophyte Marxist in an era dominated by Joe McCarthy. When I dropped out of pre-med after failing Physics 3, my bereft mother sat shiva. My advisor, Professor Sacks, also served as my physics teacher. With one stroke of his pen, he saved my life and thousands of others whom I might have murdered through malpractice. Subsequently, I switched to pre-law with a major in history. After earning the lowest possible score on the LSATs, I left that, too. Then it was my father who sat shiva in bereavement. Both my parents cheered up measurably, however, when I announced my decision to become a teacher. "A teacher!" my parents kvelled. "With a two month summer vacation, you'll have time to visit your parents."

Unable to leave Columbia, my home away from home, I continued into graduate school inspired by intellectual heavyweights such as Richard Hofstadter, David Donald, William Leuchtenburg, and Robert Cross and caring as well as charismatic teachers such as Jim Shenton and Dwight Miner. Forty-plus years later, I teach history at Long Island University but my heart belongs to Alma Mater. I even taught in Columbia's School of General Studies in the summer of 1965. Who, to borrow a phrase from the Gershwin brothers, could ask for anything more?

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