Soon to be famous rejection: Harvard to Warren Buffett

September 19, 2007

A California woman donated $128 million to a Quaker boarding school.  Her fortune is the result of her father’s wise investment with one of his former students, Warren Buffett.

Barbara Dodd Anderson made the gift to the George School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  She is the daughter of Buffett’s former professor at Columbia University’s graduate business program, David L. Dodd.  Dodd invested with Buffett, having been impressed with Buffett’s acumen as a student.

But Buffett owed Dodd a lot, too.  It was Dodd who got Buffett into Columbia, after Harvard rejected him.  Here’s the gist of that part of the story, from the New York Times:

In an interview, Mr. Buffett said Professor Dodd had turned his life around in 1950, when he graduated from the University of Nebraska and was applying to business school. Harvard rejected his application, and that August, well after Columbia’s application deadline, Mr. Buffett wrote to Professor Dodd, whom he admired as the author of a respected financial text.

“Dear Professor Dodd, I thought you were dead, but now that I know that you’re alive, I’d like to come study with you,” Mr. Buffett said he wrote in his letter.

“And he admitted me to Columbia!” Mr. Buffett said. “I would not be who I am today without David Dodd. If in response to my letter he’d said, ‘Sorry, its too late,’ I’d never be where I am.”

“Harvard did me a big favor by turning me down,” he said. “But I haven’t made any contributions to them in thanks for that.”

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