Warren Buffett Returns to Columbia Campus Where He Learned About Value Investing

Nov. 11, 2009Bookmark and Share
Warren Buffett (left) and his Columbia mentor, Benjamin Graham (right) [Image credit: Columbia University Archives]
As a business school student at Columbia, Buffett (left) studied under professor Graham (right), a pioneer in "value investing."
Image credit: Columbia University Archives
When Warren Buffett travels to Columbia with Bill Gates today to engage students in a town-hall discussion about global economics, green initiatives and other business topics, he’ll be returning to the campus that played a crucial role in jumpstarting his career.
The discussion with Columbia Business School students, also attended by Gates Millennium Scholars and Earth Institute students, is being produced by CNBC and will air on the network Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. EST.
I’ve enjoyed my past visits to Columbia, but know this one will be particularly fun as Warren and I get to spend time at his Alma Mater with students from the Business School,” Gates told CNBC.
Buffett (BUS’51) is second only to Gates among the world’s wealthiest individuals. With a net worth of $37 billion, he is widely considered the greatest living investor, as well as one of the most generous philanthropists in U.S. history. But it was here, as a business student at Columbia, under the mentorship of professor Benjamin Graham (CC’14), that Buffett learned the core skills that made him a shrewd investor.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1949, Buffett came to Columbia to study under professors Graham and David Dodd (BUS’21, GSAS’30). The two business school faculty members had made names for themselves by developing a method called “value investing,” which involves identifying a company’s intrinsic value and buying securities priced well below it. Value investing has since been championed by generations of successful businessmen. The book Security Analysis, published by Graham and Dodd in 1934, remains the definitive text on the subject. 
In 2002, Columbia celebrated the legacy of Buffett’s mentors by establishing The Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing, which builds upon the original principles of Security Analysis. Each fall, the business school hosts the Graham & Dodd Breakfast, drawing some of the world’s most distinguished investors to speak. A course in value investing, offered each year by the business school, is one of the most popular on campus. In 1984, Buffett marked the 50th anniversary of Security Analysis with an article in Hermes, the alumni magazine of the business school.
Graham, who served the Columbia faculty from 1928 to 1955 and became known as “the dean of Wall Street” before he died in 1976, was featured in articles this month by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. Buffett, who worked at Graham’s firm immediately after graduating from Columbia, called him the second most influential person in his life, after his father. Their relationship was so close, in fact, that Buffett named his first son Howard Graham Buffett.
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