Letters to the Editor
As an avid reader of CCT, I was struck by the critical tone of a Letter to the Editor from Scott Miller ’82 in the Fall 2012 issue in which he complained there was too much attention being paid to [President Barack Obama ’83] in CCT, just because he is an alum. Ironically, I had just read a reference to Professor Henry Graff ’49 GSAS on the next page of Letters and was thinking of remarks the professor made to the Class of 1960 at our 50th reunion. Professor Graff offered that he had no recollection of then-student Obama being at Columbia, setting off a few in the class to speculate whether Obama was a student there!
That offended me then, just as this letter from Miller offends me now. It matters little what side of the spectrum one is on to appreciate and take pride in having as a President of the United States a fellow alum. It is unfortunate that we have become so politicized that for some being a Republican or a Democrat comes first.
Gary Hershdorfer ’60
We were recently asked to name our favorite professors during our years at Columbia College. My response named two: Professor Charles Dawson ’38 GSAS and Professor Henry Graff ’49 GSAS.
Reading Rabbi Haskel Lookstein ’53’s Letter to the Editor in the Fall 2012 issue, in which he praised several of his professors, called back great memories.
Professor Dawson literally changed my life. I entered Columbia College in 1946. I spent three years in the Army Air Corps as a bombardier, flying 35 combat missions over Germany on a B-17G Flying Fortress, prior to being accepted by Columbia.
I initially signed up to become a lawyer, and to eventually enter international law so that I could end all wars in the future. It took only a few weeks to realize the futility of this idea, so I changed my major to dentistry. The pre-dental and the pre-medical students took the same courses during the first year at the College and I made the Dean’s List that year. Professor Dawson called me into his office and told me I should consider changing my major to medicine, which I did. That decision changed my life!
Professor Graff arrived at the College as a very young lecturer in American history. My class was mainly composed of combat veterans of WWII, including myself, and the average age of the class was 21–23. Serving in the war made us grow up very quickly.
Professor Graff gave me my first and only A-plus, on a paper I wrote about President Abraham Lincoln and his last law partner, William Herndon. How could anyone forget such a fabulous teacher?
Henry Graff and Charles Dawson were the best lecturers, and best prepared teachers, I met at Columbia College.
Dr. Stanley Edelman ’49, ’53 P&S
New York City