The College Backgrounds of America’s Leading Syndicated Columnists

Dec 01, 2008 |  Tom Wood

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The College Backgrounds of America’s Leading Syndicated Columnists

Dec 01, 2008 | 

Tom Wood

My three previous postings, “The College Backgrounds of America's Talking Heads,” “Educating the rich and the powerful,” and “The College Backgrounds of America’s leading newspaper opinion columnists” covered the college backgrounds of America’s leading TV commentators, CEOs, richest entrepreneurs, and newspaper columnists.

In this, the fourth and last posting of the series, I provide the information I could find on the college backgrounds of the nation’s leading syndicated columnists. The list of columnists covered is hardly exhaustive, though I believe a majority of the major syndicated writers has been included, and that the sampling is reasonably representative.

The following syndicates have been covered: Creators Syndicate, King Features Syndicate, New York Times Service, Scripps Howard News Service, Tribune Media Services, Universal Press Syndicate, and United Media.

Most of the information was obtained from the websites for these syndications. Whenever information on college backgrounds was lacking on those sites, I also looked for that information on Wikipedia. I occasionally did this also for writers for whom I felt the information on the syndicate’s own site was likely incomplete and could benefit by being supplemented with information from Wikipedia. In a small number of cases, I failed to find the information I wanted from any online source.

One of the concerns of the National Association of Scholars is the important, mutually interacting roles of higher education and other institutions in American life. The college backgrounds of public intellectuals and other leading figures in American life are relevant to these concerns. The following information is offered in the hopes that an acquaintance with it will remind the reader of the crucial role that higher education does play in the wider society.





Michael Barone: Graduated from Harvard College (1966) and Yale Law School (1969), and was an editor of the Harvard Crimson and the Yale Law Journal.

Bruce Bartlett: Nothing

Bartlett was educated at Rutgers University (B.A., 1973) and Georgetown University (M.A., 1976).

Austin Bay: Has a bachelor of arts from Rice University (1973) and has a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from Columbia University (1987). He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School and the U.S. Army War College. He currently teaches a course in strategy and strategic theory for the University of Texas’ PLAN 2 undergraduate honors program.

Tony Blankley: Holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from UCLA, a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University and a Certificate in International Law from The University of London.

L. Brent Bozell: Received his B.A. in History from the University of Dallas.

Pat Buchanan: Received his master's degree in journalism from Columbia in 1962.

Buchanan attended Georgetown University. He earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia in 1962.

Steve Chapman: Attended Harvard University, where he was on the staff of the Harvard Crimson, and graduated with honors in 1976. He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and has served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School.

Mona Charen: Received her undergraduate degree at Barnard College, Columbia University, with honors. Ms. Charen also holds a degree in law from George Washington University.

Linda Chavez: Received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in 1970.

Joseph Farah: Nothing (anywhere)

Suzanne Fields: Is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, has a master's degree in English and American literature from George Washington University, and a doctorate degree in English literature from the Catholic University of America.

David Harsanyi: Nothing

Terence Jeffrey: Earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Princeton in 1981. In 1984-85, he studied Arabic at the Arabic Language Institute of The American University in Cairo. In 1986-87, he studied in the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program at Georgetown University, but did not earn a degree.

Jack Kemp: Is a graduate of Occidental College.

*NOTE: Not marked as conservative on the page.

Lawrence Kudlow: Is a Distinguished Scholar of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. Mr. Kudlow was educated at the University of Rochester and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

David Limbaugh: Attended Southeast Missouri State University from 1971 to 1972, and the University of Missouri for the next three years, where he graduated cum laude with a political science degree. He received his law degree from the University of Missouri Law School in 1978 and was on the Missouri Law Review.

Phil Lucas: Majored in English at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Lucas served as editor and publisher of the daily paper in the college town of Auburn, Ala.

NOTE: Listed as libertarian & conservative.

Michelle Malkin: Is a graduate of Oberlin College.

Dick Morris: Nothing

Dick Morris attended Columbia University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating a year early, in 1967.

William Murchison: Is a Radford Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Baylor University, in Waco, Tex. He was graduated from the University of Texas in 1963 and received a master of arts degree from Stanford University in 1964.

Chuck Norris: Nothing

Oliver North: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

Robert Novak: Has a B.A. degree from Illinois and, in 1997, received the university’s distinguished alumnus award.

Marvin Olasky: Is editor-in-chief of World, provost of The King's College, New York City, and a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1976.

Dennis Prager: Was a Fellow at Columbia University's School of International Affairs, where he did graduate work at the Middle East and Russian Institutes. He has taught Russian and Jewish history at Brooklyn College. He holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Pepperdine University.

Prager attended Brooklyn College, majoring in Anthropology and History; he graduated in 1970. In 1969, Prager spent his junior year abroad at the University of Leeds in England. From 1970-72, Prager attended the Russian (now the Harriman Institute) and Middle East Institutes at the Columbia University School of International Affairs.

Alan Reynolds: Did his undergraduate work in economics at UCLA and graduate studies at Cal State Sacramento.

Debra J. Saunders: Graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a B.A. in Greek and Latin.

Phyllis Schlafly: Is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington University. Received her J.D. from Washington University Law School and her master's in political science from Harvard University.

*NOTE: not designated as conservative on the site.

Ben Shapiro: Entered UCLA at the age of 16 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in June 2004 with a BA in Political Science. He currently studies at Harvard Law School.

Thomas Sowell: Entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), he went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968). In 1963, at Douglass College, he began the first of many professorships. His other teaching assignments include Cornell University, Rutgers University, Amherst University, Brandeis University, and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he taught in the early '70s.

Matt Towery: Is a graduate of England's Cambridge University and Florida's Stetson University Law School (Cum Laude).

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.: Received a master of arts in history from Indiana University, where he also received his bachelor of arts in 1965.



Andy Borowitz: Attended Harvard University, where he wrote the Hasty Pudding Show and was president of the Harvard Lampoon.

Alexander Cockburn: Nothing

Studied at the Keble College, Oxford.

Joe Conason: Graduated from Brandeis University in 1975 with honors in history.

Susan Estrich: After graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with highest honors from Wellesley College in 1974, Estrich went on to attend Harvard Law School. She was selected president of the Harvard Law Review and received her JD magna cum laude in 1977. In 1981, Estrich began teaching at Harvard Law School, and by 1986, she had received tenure. Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center.

Froma Harrop: Graduated from New York University in 1972.

Jim Hightower: Is a graduate of the University of North Texas.

Rhonda Chriss Lokeman: Graduated with a B.S. in journalism in 1980 from the University of Maryland. She attended Smith College where she received a certificate in business management from the Smith Management Program.

Deb Price: Nothing

Robert Scheer: Graduated from City College of New York. He studied as a Maxwell Fellow at Syracuse University and was a fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley, where he did graduate work in economics. Scheer has also been a Poynter fellow at Yale, and was a fellow in arms control at Stanford. He has also taught courses at Antioch College in San Francisco, New York City College, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC Berkeley. He is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, where he teaches a course on media and society.

Connie Schultz: Nothing

Received a journalism degree from Kent State University in 1979. Prior to this, she attended Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University.

Mark Shields: Graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1959 with a major in philosophy and a minor in history. He has also taught courses on American politics and the press at Harvard University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Roger Simon: Has a B.A. degree in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Simon has been a Poynter Media Fellow at Yale University, a Hoover Media Fellow at Stanford University, and in the spring of 2005 was a Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University.

David Sirota: Received a degree in journalism and political science from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Lenore Skenazy: Nothing

Norman Solomon: Nothing

Attended Reed College but left before graduating.



Larry Elder: Attended Brown University, receiving a BA in Political Science in 1974. He then attended the University of Michigan, School of Law, graduating in 1977.

John Stossel: Is a graduate of Princeton University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.

Jacob Sullum: Is a graduate of Cornell University, where he was an editor and columnist at The Cornell Daily Sun and majored in economics and psychology.

Walter E. Williams: Holds a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a Master's degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. From 1995 to 2001, he served as department chairman. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College (1967-69), California State University (1967-1971) and Temple University (1973-1980). In 1984-1985, he received the Faculty Member of the Year Award from the George Mason University Alumni.


Paul Craig Roberts: From 1971 until 2004, was associated with the Hoover Institution, Stanford University as National Fellow, Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow. In 1987, the French government inducted him into the Legion of Honor. Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University, where he was a member of Merton College.
Roland S. Martin: Is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor's of science degree in journalism. Martin is studying to receive his master's degree in Christian Communications at Louisiana Baptist University.
Bill O'Reilly: Attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was accepted into an overseas program, and studied at the University of London. He received a B.A. in history from Marist. Earned an M.A. in broadcast journalism from Boston University. O'Reilly was accepted into the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in early 1995. He received an M.A. in public policy from Harvard.
Miguel Perez: Is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

Stanley Crouch: Is the recipient of the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. After graduating from high school, he attended two junior colleges in the Los Angeles area but has no degrees – a fact that marks his life’s work as even more extraordinary. He taught at the Claremont Colleges in California from 1968 to 1975.
Amy Goodman: Nothing
Amy Goodman is a 1984 graduate of Harvard University.
Rich Lowry: Graduated from the University of Virginia, where he edited a conservative monthly magazine called the Virginia Advocate.
Marianne Means: Holds a law degree from the George Washington University Law Center. She also has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa.
Dan Rather: In October 1994, Rather was honored by his alma mater, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, which named its journalism and communications building after him. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Sam Houston State Teachers College, where he spent the following year as a journalism instructor. He also attended the University of Houston and the South Texas School of Law.
Maria Elena Salinas: Nothing
Helen Thomas: Graduated from Wayne State University. She is the recipient of more than 30 Honorary Doctorate degrees

Noam Chomsky: Is an Institute Professor emeritus and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky began studying philosophy and linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. He received a BA in 1949 and an MA in 1951 from the University of Pennsylvania; he received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He conducted part of his doctoral research during four years at Harvard University as a Harvard Junior Fellow. Chomsky joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 and in 1961 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (now the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy). From 1966 to 1976 he held the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship of Modern Languages and Linguistics, and in 1976 he was appointed Institute Professor. As of 2008, Chomsky has taught at MIT continuously for 53 years.
Naomi Klein: Dropped out of the University of Toronto to become an intern at the Toronto Globe and Mail, followed by an editorship at This Magazine. She returned to university in 1995 to get a degree.
Jorge Ramos: Attended the Universidad Iberoamericana in México City where he majored in Communication. He then received his Master's degree in International Studies from the University of Miami.
Christopher Hitchens: Was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
Jeff Jacoby: Is a graduate of George Washington University and the Boston University School of Law, both with honors.


Lisa Hoffman (Washcall): Nothing
Deroy Murdock: Received his AB in Government from Georgetown University in 1986 and his MBA in Marketing and International Business from New York University in 1989. Murdock is also a Media Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Bonnie Erbe: Graduated from Barnard College in 1974, Columbia University with an M.S. in Journalism in 1975, and a J.D. Georgetown University Law Center in 1987.
Betsy Hart: Graduated in 1985 from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in Russian Studies.

Jose de la Isla: Nothing
John Crisp: Teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Marsha Mercer: Is a graduate of Stephens College in Missouri. Mercer earned a master's degree in English from the University of Virginia. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism.
Martin Schram: Earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Florida in 1964, majoring in political science.

Dan Thomasson: Nothing

Dale McFeatters: Nothing
Paul Campos: Is a law professor, author, and journalist currently on the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Educational Background: University of Michigan (A.B., 1982), University of Michigan (M.A., 1983), University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1989)
Clifford D. May: Earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. In addition, he holds a certificate in Russian language and literature from the University of Leningrad. Holds masters degrees from both Columbia University's School of Public and International Affairs and its School of Journalism.

Joel Mathis: Nothing

Ben Boychuk: Nothing
Star Parker: Nothing
After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, receiving a BS degree in marketing.

Bill Press: Received a B.A. in philosophy from Niagara University and S.T.B. in theology from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
Cal Thomas: Is a graduate of American University.
Carl Hiaasen: Nothing
Entered Emory University in 1970, where he contributed numerous satiric pieces to the school newspaper, The Emory Wheel. In 1972 he transferred to the University of Florida, graduating in 1974 with a degree in journalism.
Clarence Page: Nothing
Page received his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1969, where he was the commencement speaker in 1993 and 2001. He has received honorary doctorates from Columbia College in Chicago, Lake Forest College, and Nazareth College in Rochester.
Garrison Keillor: Nothing
Graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966.
Henry Kissinger: Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received have been the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1969. From 1954 until 1969 he was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, both in the Department of Government and the Center for International Affairs.
Ian Bremmer: Received his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 1994. He went on to the faculty of Stanford's Hoover Institution where, at 25, he became the institution's youngest national fellow. He has held research and faculty positions at Columbia University, where he presently teaches; the EastWest Institute; and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Joe Galloway: Nothing
Jonah Goldberg: Nothing
Goldberg graduated from Goucher College in 1991. Goldberg also served for three years on the Board of Trustees of Goucher College.
Leonard Pitts Jr.: Nothing
Mary Sanchez: Nothing
Paul Greenberg: Nothing
Paul Kennedy: Is the J. Richardson Dilworth professor of history and director of international security studies at Yale University. Kennedy obtained his B.A. at Newcastle University and his doctorate at the University of Oxford. He is a former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, and of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung in Germany. Kennedy holds many honorary degrees and fellowships, including that of the Royal Historical Society, the American Philosophical Society and the American Association of Arts and Sciences. He was made commander of the British Empire in 2000 for services to history and elected a fellow of the British Academy in June 2003. Kennedy is on the editorial board of numerous scholarly journals.
Jules Witcover (Politics Today): Nothing
Rev. Jesse Jackson: Attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship for one year, then transferred to North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., where he was active in sports (baseball and football), student government and the student sit-in movement, which began in Greensboro on Feb. 1, 1960. Graduated with a B.A. in sociology (1963). Attended the Chicago Theological Seminary for two and a half years before joining Dr. King in 1965 in the voting rights march in Selma, Ala. The school later conferred on him an honorary doctorate degree.
Robert Koehler: Has earned a master's degree in creative writing from Columbia College and taught writing at both the college and high school levels. He attended Western Michigan University.
Robyn Blumner: Is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law.
Ross Mackenzie: Holds a B.A. in history from Yale and an M.A. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago.
Samantha Power: Is the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, based at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She is graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. (She spent 2005 to 2006 working in the office of Senator Barack Obama.)
Arianna Huffington: Graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union.
Andres Oppenheimer (The Oppenheimer Report): Nothing
Oppenheimer studied law at the University of Buenos Aires.
Victor Davis Hanson: Received his Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University in 1980, attended the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and graduated with a B.A., with highest honors in classics, from the University of California Santa Cruz. He is a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, a senior fellow in residence in classics and military history at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and a fellow of Hillsdale College. In 1991, Hanson was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, and received in 1992-3 a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the Center for Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, Calif.
William Pfaff: Is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a veteran of infantry and Special Forces service in the U.S. Army.

Ann Coulter: Is a graduate of Cornell University (with honors) and the University of Michigan Law School.
Maggie Galagher: Is a graduate of Yale ('82).
Georgie Anne Geyer: Has received 21 Honorary Degrees from universities and colleges, including one from her beloved alma mater, Northwestern University.
Anna Quindlen: Is a graduate of Barnard College and serves on Barnard's Board of Trustees. Holds honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, Denison University, Moravian College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Stevens Institute of Technology and was awarded the University Medal of Excellence by Columbia. She was a Poynter Fellow in Journalism at Yale and a Victoria Fellow in Contemporary Issues at Rutgers. In 1996 she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Richard Reeves: Is a visiting professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and the former Regents Professor of Political Science at UCLA. He has also taught political writing at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 1998, he won the Carey McWilliams Award of the American Political Science Association for distinguished contributions to the understanding of American politics. He was the Goldman Lecturer on American Civilization and Government at the Library of Congress that year; the lectures were published by Harvard University Press under the title What the People Know: Freedom and the Press. He is the co-editor of the textbook Do the Media Govern? published by Sage.
Richard Reeves was educated as a mechanical engineer, ME (mechanical engineering), Stevens Institute of Technology. Teaching: Visiting Professor of Journalism, Annenberg School for Communication at USC; Regents Professor of Political Science, UCLA 1992-94; Political Writing, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1974-1976; Hunter College, Government, 1970-1972.
David Shribman: Graduating summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1976, Shribman was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He did graduate work at Cambridge University, England, as a James Reynolds Scholar. Shribman is an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College and of the Board of Visitors of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences at Dartmouth.
Cynthia Tucker: Graduated from Auburn University in 1976 and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in the 1988-89 academic year.
Woman to Woman (Feldhahn and Sarvady)
Shaunti Feldhahn: Holds a master's in public policy from Harvard University, and a bachelor's in government and economics from The College of William & Mary in Virginia.
Andrea Sarvady: Received a degree in English from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in marital and family therapy from the University of San Francisco.

Tad Bartimus (Among Friends): Has served as Atwood Professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Bartimus' career has been chronicled in the Washington Journalism Foundation's Oral History Project, and she was awarded a lifetime achievement medal from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. [Otherwise no information was available on her college background.]
Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts:
Cokie Roberts: Attended Wellesley College in 1964 where she received a BA in Political Science.
Steven V. Roberts: Attended Harvard where he served as editor of the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. Graduated with a B.A. in Government in 1964. Roberts has taught journalism and political communication at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs since 1997. He is the Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.
William Rusher (The Conservative Advocate): Educated at Princeton University. Graduated from Harvard Law School
Diana West: Graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English.
Donald Lambro: Is a graduate of Boston University.
Donna Brazile: Serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.
Education: Louisiana State University. Brazile also served as a lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park, as a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Georgetown University.
Gene Lyons: Graduated from Rutgers University and earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia. He taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she studied politics and philosophy.
Mary Mitchell: Earned a B.A. in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.
Morton Kondracke: Was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College.
Education: Dartmouth College, Georgetown University. Kondracke graduated from Dartmouth College in 1960. He joined the U.S. Army and served in Washington, DC in the Counter Intelligence Corps while pursuing graduate work at Georgetown University
Nat Hentoff: Received his B.A. from Northeastern University, did graduate work at Harvard University, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Northeastern in 1985. Was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Sorbonne in Paris. He has taught courses in journalism and the Constitution at Princeton University and New York University.


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