Commonly referred to by his initials FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the U.S. and a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Born in 1882, Roosevelt was an aristocrat descended from one of America's oldest families who practiced law before becoming a politician. Faced with the Great Depression and World War II, Roosevelt guided America through a period of unparalleled turmoil. His presidency — which spanned a record 12years — resulted in a legacy that includes fundamental economic institutions such as the Securities Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and Social Security Administration. As a wartime leader, he is credited with restoring public confidence by regularly communicating with U.S. citizens through radio addresses that were also known as "fireside chats." He also served as the principal architect of the successful effort to rid the world of Japanese militarism and German National Socialism. Despite passing away before these victories, Roosevelt left a giant mark in the history books and is widely regarded as one of the greatest U.S. presidents of all time.
In 1900, Roosevelt entered Harvard University determined to make something of himself. Though his academic record was undistinguished, he was a class leader in many extracurricular activities, including the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, the Fly Club, the Hasty Pudding, the Signet Society, the Social Service Society, the Political Club, the Yacht Club, and the Glee Club. He also played freshman football and rowed on the freshman crew.
As an undergrad, Roosevelt found even more success at the university newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. After starting off as a staff reporter, he diligently worked his way up to the Editor-in-Chief position. In 1903, Roosevelt completed his undergraduate requirements, needing only three years to do so. However, to fulfill his duties as editor, he returned to Harvard for an extra year, taking his degree in 1904. The following year he continued his education by enrolling in Columbia Law School, but left in 1907, after passing the bar exam without receiving a law degree.
For the rest of his life, Roosevelt valued his Harvard connections. In 1934, for instance, when his responsibilities as the U.S. President seemed likely to keep him from attending his thirtieth reunion, Roosevelt put on a "substitute class of 1904 reunion" at the White House, inviting his old Harvard chums to Washington D.C. Previously, at the age of 38, Roosevelt was elected Chief Marshal at Harvard's Commencement, where he delivered the Phi Beta Kappa Oration and received an honorary Doctor of Laws. Not to be outdone, in 2008, Columbia Law also awarded Roosevelt an honorary degree: a posthumous Juris Doctor, thus making him not only a member of the 1907 Class, but also one of Columbia's most successful graduates.