"The Gift Columbia Gave Me"

Ted Gregory '74CC

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“If you come right down to it,” said Ted Gregory ’74CC, “this place changed the trajectory of my life.” Ted arrived in New York some 50 years ago, a football recruit from the already shuttering steel town of Middletown, Ohio. “Columbia exposed me to things I had read about, heard about, but really had no clue about, a whole education about life,” he added. “What I learned, and the friendships I made, have lasted a lifetime.”

Ted Gregory on the Columbia Football Team

 

Indeed they have. He returned to campus in 2013 as a director of diversity initiatives and talent retention after a 23-year run on Wall Street (Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America), but in fact he had never really left. He served as a mentor to athletes year after year, a role he still savors, sharing personal takes from his experience on everything from time management (the biggest challenge for athletes juggling Columbia academics) to hot tips in the dining hall to navigating career paths. And his record of annual giving remains unbroken.

To restate that last point: Gregory has made a gift to Columbia every single year since 1974. “When I graduated," he explained, "nobody had to call me to tell me to give. I know that the Columbia experience works, and I want to help as many people share it as possible."

“I know that the Columbia experience works, and I want to help as many people share it as possible."

Whether giving back with time or dollars, Gregory follows the example of two of his alumni mentors, Wall Street executives and Columbia football fans who helped him think big when the College senior faced uncertain prospects back in Ohio. Impressed by his talents, not least his Hall-of-Famer gridiron skills, Columbia Trustee Connie Maniatty '43CC and Barnard Trustee Gerdale “Dale” Horowitz coached him onto a new field, finance.

Not that it was easy. After a training program at Salomon Brothers right out of school, he was assigned to cover sales to savings banks in Connecticut. “Imagine me, the youngest guy there, 22 or 23 years old, this Black guy from Middletown, Ohio, walking into the offices of the presidents of Connecticut savings banks to persuade them about how they should invest. But turns out, I did very well with it. “

“Columbia got me ready. This is not an easy place, you know. You have to work to get out of here. I came out feeling I can take on anything —that’s the gift Columbia gave me.”

by Jerry Kisslinger '79CC, '82GSAS

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