Christie Hefner comes to campus

By CiaraShook

Christie Hefner advises that in a world based more around education and less around information, students are less likely to get what is deserved, but more likely to get what can be negotiated.

Daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Christie had a bright face and a warm smile as she stood before students, faculty and the public at Film Row Cinema of the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Hefner is visiting Columbia as the second installment of the Dean’s Lecture series in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, hosted by Deborah Holdstein, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“There’s no way of knowing where your path will take you and what your opportunities will be,” Hefner said.

Mark Schimmel, adjunct instructor in the Film & Video Department, attended the Dean’s Lecture on Oct. 29.

“She’s an incredibly successful and recognizable woman who ran a really successful organization,” Schimmel said. “She was inspiring and inspired the students who were here with her passion for learning and her experience in business.”

Holdstein said Hefner is a very good person to speak about issues related to First Amendment rights.

As heiress to Playboy, she became master and commander of her father’s popular magazine company in 1988 at age 29. With a minimal background in business, Hefner turned Playboy into a thriving multimedia conglomerate, becoming the first magazine to adapt to television and a pioneer in uncharted waters of the Internet world in the mid-1990s.

“I invited Christie Hefner because she is an example of not only a successful businesswoman, but someone for whom the broad-based education has been extremely important in her success,” Holdstein said.

Hefner said she mostly learned by getting what she called an MBWA, “management by walking around.”

“It’s not a bad way to learn,” Hefner said. “I was greatly the beneficiary of having no idea of how much I didn’t know, something that can often allow you to accomplish more than you probably have any right to accomplish.”

Hefner earned her bachelors in English and American literature at Brandeis University in Boston and studied psychology, philosophy, sociology, history, music and sciences.

“Having a liberal arts education hadn’t kept me from being successful, but having a liberal arts education had contributed to my ability to making me successful,” Hefner said.

She said students getting an education at a place like Columbia should go forward not only with specific-learned, trade-related knowledge, but with critical thinking and creative skills.

“Take science too,” Hefner said. “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re either interested in science or the arts or literature. It’s really important and there are different ways to study science—you don’t have to sign up for physics.”

Hefner said the study of liberal arts and sciences is the study of human nature and the most critical skill that can be learned from a liberal arts education is the ability to take what is known and form hypotheses, then make projections beyond what is knowable and to test those in critical thinking.

“Those basic skills, that idea of how to process information, are just invaluable in whatever field you go into,” Hefner said. “It’s an ability to look around a corner and be humble enough to know that you can’t really look around the corner, you could just surmise what might be around the corner.”

Hefner advises that students with a liberal arts education become more aware of global competition and opportunities, be more conscious of a growing trend in diversity and embrace the ever-changing world of technology.

“How we communicate, whether we choose to only communicate with the people who are our Facebook friends, all are very interesting topics that will play out in our lives and careers,” Hefner said.