Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Obama at Columbia University

Q: Is it true that nobody remembers Obama attending Columbia University?

A: At least one of his classmates remembers him well, and the university proudly claims Obama.


Can you check this out and see if it is true?

Thank you!

I have always wondered why NO ONE ever came forward from Obama’s past saying they knew him, attended school with him, was his friend, etc. NO ONE, not one person has ever come forward from his past. VERY VERY STRANGE.
This should really be a cause for great concern.

To those who voted for him, YOU HAVE ELECTED THE BIGGEST UNQUALIFIED FRAUD that America has ever known!
This is very interesting stuff. Sort of adds credence to the idea of The Manchurian Candidate thing having happened here! Stephanopoulos of ABC news said the same thing during the 08′ campaign. He too was a classmate of BO’s at Columbia class of 1984. He said he never had one class with him.
Was he there?
While he is such a great orator, why doesn’t anyone in Obama’s collegeclass remember him? Maybe he never attended class! Maybe he never attended Columbia ? He won’t allow Colombia to release his records either. Suspicious isn’t it???
Looking for evidence of Obama’s past, Fox News contacted 400 Columbia University students from the period when Obama claims to have been there, but none remembered him.
Wayne Allyn Root was, like Obama, a political science major at Columbia who also graduated in 1983. In 2008, Root says of Obama, "I don’t know a single person at Columbia that knew him, and they all know me. I don’t have a classmate who ever knew Barack Obama at Columbia . Ever! Nobody recalls him. I’m not exaggerating, I’m not kidding.
Root adds that he was also, like Obama, "Class of ’83 political science, pre-law" and says, "You don’t get more exact or closer than that. Never met him in my life, don’t know anyone who ever met him.
At the class reunion, our 20th reunion five years ago, who was asked to be the speaker of the class? Me. No one ever heard of Barack! And five years ago, nobody even knew who he was. The guy who writes the class notes, who’s kind of the, as we say in New York , the macha who knows everybody, has yet to find a person, a human who ever met him. Is that not strange?
It’s very strange. "Obama’s photograph does not appear in the school’s yearbook and Obama consistently declines requests to talk about his years at Columbia , provide schoolrecords, or provide the name of any former classmates or friends while at Columbia .
NOTE: Root graduated as Valedictorian from his high school, Thornton-Donovan School, then graduated from Columbia University in 1983 as a PoliticalScience major (in the same class as President Barack Obama WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN IN).
Can it be that BHO is a complete fraud?? More intrigue concerning "The Man who wasn’t there”.


We’re not sure why, but this false claim has been forwarded widely in recent days, judging by the number of queries we’ve received.

Barack Obama was a transfer student from California’s Occidental College when he came to Columbia University in 1981 as a 20-year-old junior. More than 20,000 students currently attend Columbia. The enrollment in the early ’80s might have been lower, but not everybody would have met or remembered Obama. And it’s absolutely untrue that "not one person has ever come forward" from his years there, or that he is "the man who wasn’t there."

Columbia University proudly claims Obama as a 1983 graduate. The university magazine Columbia College Today profiled him as far back as 2005, after he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Last year, the New York Times wrote about Phil Boerner, who roomed with the future president during his first year at Columbia. The article included excerpts from the Columbia student directory, showing Obama living during his junior year at 142 West 109th Street near Columbia’s campus in New York City, and during his senior year at 339 East 94th Street. Boerner recalled that Obama sometimes wrapped himself in a sleeping bag to keep warm in the chilly apartment they shared, and that some nights he would cook chicken curry for dinner.

In an article published in Columbia College Today, Boerner also wrote:

Boerner: I remember often eating breakfast with Barack at Tom’s Restaurant on Broadway. Occasionally we went to The West End for beers. We enjoyed exploring museums such as the Guggenheim, the Met and the American Museum of Natural History, and browsing in bookstores such as the Strand and the Barnes & Noble opposite Columbia. We both liked taking long walks down Broadway on a Sunday afternoon, and listening to the silence of Central Park after a big snow. I also remember jogging the loop around Central Park with Barack.

Obama even published an article in a school magazine called the Sundial. A reporter for the conservative Human Events magazine recently called it "a wholesale endorsement of all sorts of leftist claptrap fashionable at the time." The full article is available on the Web site of Politico.com. It was published in the issue dated March 10, 1983.

The e-mail incorrectly claims that ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos was a classmate of Obama. They were both students at Columbia for about one academic year, but Stephanopoulos was a year ahead. Obama received his degree in 1983, while Stephanopoulos received his a year earlier, according to a university press release. Neither of them were "class of 1984," as the message incorrectly claims.

The message recycles — and exaggerates to the point of falsification — some attacks that were raised in the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign. The claim that Fox News could not find any classmates who remembered Obama, for example, was published in a Sept. 11, 2008, Wall Street Journal editorial, which attacked then-candidate Obama for not releasing more information about his two years at the university. The message also makes much of Wayne Allyn Root’s statement in an interview that he didn’t know anybody who remembered Obama at Columbia. That appeared Sept. 5, 2008, in Reason magazine. What the message fails to mention is that Root was at the time a candidate for vice president on the Libertarian ticket. Root was stating that "[a] vote for Obama is four years of Karl Marx," but even Root stopped short of claiming that Obama was not actually a student at Columbia.

–Brooks Jackson


Update, Feb. 23: After we published this item, we received an e-mail from a woman who says she knew Obama when he was at Columbia. You can read her recollection of playing soccer with Obama on campus in our FactCheck Mailbag.

Correction, March 16: We originally used a quote from Phil Boerner, Obama’s roommate at Columbia, that referred to their time together at Occidental College. We have changed that quote to another of Boerner’s recollections about their time at Columbia.


"Barack Obama ’83 Becomes First College Alumnus To Win Presidency." Columbia University. 5 Nov 2008.

Boss-Bicak, Shira. "Barack Obama ’93: Is He the New Face of The Democratic Party?" Columbia College Today. Jan 2005.

Cowan, Allison Leigh. "Recollections of Obama’s Ex-Roommate." New York Times "City Room" Blog. 20 Jan 2009, accessed 14 Feb 2010.

Boerner, Phil. "Barack Obama ’83, My Columbia College Roommate." Columbia College Today. Jan/Feb 2009.

"Obama’s Lost Years." Editorial. Wall Street Journal. 11 Sep 2008.

Welch, Matt. "Wayne Allyn Root’s Million-Dollar Challenge." Reason Magazine. 5 Sep 2008.