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Ezra's Billionaires: Reconsidered

So readers will no doubt recall the news that there are nine billionaires associated with Cornell University, and MetaEzra's speculation as to who they could be. We had a hunch on three of them, but left the rest for the reader to figure out.

Well, it turns out we went only one for nine! And there are actually ten!

The esteemed Corey Earle -- the greatest historian of Cornell among our generation -- wrote in to tell us just how wrong we are. The list actually comprises the following, in order of Forbes's ranking.

#227: Paul Milstein & family (including Howard P. Milstein '73)
#307 Robert Ziff JD '92
#553: H. Fisk Johnson '79, MEng '80, MBA '84, PhD '86
#553: Imogene Powers Johnson '52
#553: S. Curtis Johnson '77
#553 Helen Johnson-Leipold '78
#553: Winnie Johnson-Marquart '81 (no degree)
#743: Irwin M. Jacobs '54
#843: Sanford I. Weill '55
#897 David A. Duffield '62, MBA '64

So whereas Forbes originally reported nine, there are actually ten American billionaire graduates of Cornell. And five out of the ten come from the Johnson family, which is a little bit less diverse than we would have thought. But where did we go wrong?

Well, Chuck Feeney was a billionaire but then he gave away all of his money to the Atlantic Philanthropies. So that means that he is no longer a billionaire.

We did guess correctly on Sandy Weill, who has given most his fortune to the medical school, and has only recently started to focus his attention to the Ithaca campus.

And then we identified Tata, but he is an international and was necessarily excluded from the original ranking of colleges and universities. But surprisingly, Tata is not to be found on the Forbes list.

Yet there are some international Cornell billionaires to be found, including:

#538 Stephen Jarislowsky '46 (Canada)
#1062 Kyung Bae Suh MBA '87 (Korea)

And likely more, but we don't have the patience to go digging. We're confident the folks in the development office know who they are though.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on July 14, 2008 (#)

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