Martin A. Dale ’53 was born in Newark, NJ of immigrant parents – he was a first-generation American – and attended Princeton on a William Cane Scholarship for graduates of New Jersey public schools. He graduated with honors in public and international affairs and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He studied at the University of Strasbourg on a Fulbright Scholarship and received a master's degree with honors from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1955.
Dale began a career as a foreign-service officer in France. He then received an offer from Prince Rainier to come to Monaco as privy counselor, where he assisted the prince in developing Monaco's economic resources and became a close friend. Dale subsequently worked as an executive with the Revlon International Corp. and W.R. Grace & Co. In addition, he was a consultant specializing in strategic planning and corporate restructuring.
Always grateful for the Cane Scholarship that had made his attendance at Princeton possible, Dale consulted extensively with Dean of the College Nancy Weiss Malkiel about endowing some kind of program for Princeton students. In 1992, he established a set of summer awards to enable rising juniors to pursue nontraditional, potentially life-changing projects. "My original idea," says Dale, "was that the summer awards would enable students to probe some talent or vocation besides what they were pursuing academically,” “to give them a chance to find within themselves some other interests."
Thrilled by the success of the summer awards program, Dale also planned to leave money in his will to create a postgraduate fellowship program. But he so enjoyed "having a fingerprint on the lives of these totally extraordinary people" that he decided to initiate the program "while I was still alive." He thus created the Martin A. Dale Fellowship in 1997, intending that it should fund a year-long independent project for a graduating Princeton senior that would widen the recipient's experience of the world and promote self-discovery, personal growth and intellectual development.
Dale took great interest in the students' projects and pleasure in their success. Each fall, he returned to the campus to meet the fellowship and award recipients and hear reports on their summer and yearlong experiences. “These awards I give are the major accomplishment of my life," he told the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1999. "Nothing touches me as truly significant other than the influence, small as it may be, I will have had on so many young people.”
"Martin Dale,” as Dean Malkiel has noted, “is a hero to an ever-growing group of Princeton students whose lives have been transformed by the summer awards and postgraduate fellowships that bear his name. Through his remarkable breadth of vision and great generosity, he has opened worlds of possibility to them that they could not otherwise have imagined experiencing."