Robert K. Kraft
A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Robert K. Kraft arrived to Columbia University in 1959 and forever influenced the course of Columbia and football history.
Before becoming one of the most influential NFL owners and business executives of his era, Kraft had aspirations of starring for the Lions on the gridiron and was a running back on the freshman squad in 1959. While an injury cut his football career short, his strong relationship to Columbia and the sport of football was just beginning.
After graduating from Columbia College in 1963 and completing business school, Kraft began a tremendous career ascent through which he became a national icon. After several successful business forays and acquisitions over the next three decades, he purchased his hometown NFL Franchise, the New England Patriots, in 1994.
Since then, under Kraft's leadership, the Patriots have become a model franchise for the National Football League - if not all professional sports. Since purchasing the team, Kraft's Patriots have won three NFL Vince Lombardi Trophies as Super Bowl Champions and have won more games, more playoff games, and more conference championships than any other team in the NFL.
More importantly, Kraft and his family have continued to give back to their community. The Krafts have donated more than $100 million dollars supporting numerous important charities including the Dana Farber Cancer Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and his Alma Mater, Columbia University.
In 2000, Columbia opened the doors to the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, the on-campus Hillel of Columbia University. For his extremely generous contributions as the Co-Chair of the Columbia Campaign for Athletics, the University officially dedicated the playing field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium as Robert K. Kraft Field in October 2007.
A 1987 recipient of Columbia's John Jay Award and a 2004 recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal, Kraft has been honored by nearly every organization he has touched. He was awarded the NCAA's highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Award, in 2006, and in 2012, the Pro Football Writers Association bestowed upon him the George Halas Award, Making Kraft the first NFL owner to be so honored.