Columbia Honors Obama, Class of '83

Columbia University is throwing a campus party to celebrate the latest accomplishment by one of its most famous graduates: the inauguration of Barack Obama, Class of '83, as president.

"So you can't make it to D.C.?" reads an e-mail invitation from university president Lee C. Bollinger to alumni. ``Come celebrate Obama's inauguration with the Columbia community.''

Just inside the university's iron entrance gates, a framed poster of a smiling Obama looks onto a plaza where a giant television screen will be set up for the broadcast of Tuesday's ceremony in Washington, barring extreme weather. Hot chocolate and warm cider will be served.

"He's everywhere! This semester has been completely Obama," said junior Anna Brauer, vice president of Columbia's Democratic club.

"Happy days are here again!" reads a flier tacked to the window of a pub near campus. "Celebrate President Obama '83."

Obama attended the university's Columbia College from 1981 to 1983, the last two years of his undergraduate studies, majoring in political science with a specialization in international relations.

Now, the school is basking in his reflected glory _ as other schools that educated future presidents have done, including California's Whittier College, the alma mater of Richard Nixon.

It's not Columbia's first brush with men who would be president: Dwight Eisenhower led the institution from 1948 until he took leave in December 1950 to command the new NATO forces. Both Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt attended its law school, though neither graduated.

There are no plans yet for plaques or statues dedicated to Obama on the upper Manhattan campus. "We'll wait to see how he does," Bollinger said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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