MATHEMATICS BUILDING – 100 years after its generous contribution to Columbia’s campus, President Bollinger has announced a ceremony to re-commemorate Columbia’s Mathematics building by installing a bust in honor of its namesake, Jonah Mathematics. Not many members of the Columbia community are aware of who this man was, or why his donation mattered to the formation of the Morningside Heights campus that is so familiar today, so the Federalist has compiled a primer on the life and times of Jonah Mathematics.
Born in 1864 to a family of Dutch immigrants, Jonah Mathematics was educated along with his siblings by his father, a farmer and Civil War veteran, named Matthias Mathematics. When not tending to crops, Jonah spent his time reading the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his contemporaries, musing on the world around him.
Looking to pursue his love of literature, Jonah attended Columbia University and studied the great works of the literary canon. He was so moved by the power of words that he founded Mathematics Publishing upon graduation, which flourished into one of New York’s greatest publishing powerhouses and made Jonah into a millionaire. Looking to give back to the university that helped make him, Jonah donated $500,000 (nearly $9 million today) to Columbia in 1918 in order to construct a new building for the study of English Literature and Poetry.
Alas, through a cruel twist of fate, his building could not outrun his name. After a mix-up in the 1960s, the literary contents of the Mathematics library were mistakenly removed and placed in Butler library, while the Mathematics building was filled with surplus math textbooks. Jonah was notorious for his intense hatred of mathematics as a field of study, brimming with a resentment stemming from his traditional Dutch surname. Some undergraduates say that Jonah’s spirit can be seen wandering the stacks in Mathematics, scoffing loudly at the contents of its shelves.
Looking to right this wrong 100 years after its construction, President Bollinger has planned a commemorative book burning to accompany the dedication of Jonah’s bust, in which all of the math books will be destroyed in a glorious pyre on the grass in front of the building. This act seeks to make amends with the legacy of Jonah Mathematics, and perhaps allow his restless spirit to finally find peace.
At press time, a similar ceremony is being planned for the namesake of Uris Deli; the infamous New York railroad tycoon, Uris J. Deli.