News at Princeton

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Web Stories

'The 19th President'

Shirley M. Tilghman and members of the University community look back on her accomplishments over her 12 years as the 19th president of the University. Read more.

Video Closed Captions

ROBERT RAWSON: I do solemnly

solemnly swear--

will faithfully,

impartially, and justly--

I will faithfully,

impartially, and justly--

ROBERT RAWSON: Perform the duties of
the office of President of

Princeton University--

duties of the office of

President of Princeton

ROBERT RAWSON: To the best
of my ability--

best of my ability--

ROBERT RAWSON: So help me God.

So help me, God.


NANCY MALKIEL: I know the story
that she was a member of

the search committee, and one
day when she left to go to

teach, the other members of
the committee took the

opportunity to talk about what
was obviously on their minds,

which is that they should invite
her to step off the

committee and be considered
as a candidate herself.

VALERIE SMITH: Shirley brought a
real intellectual generosity

and openness to the position of
the presidency, and I think

we see that in the extraordinary
growth and

expansion of so many different
areas of the campus--

the arts, the study of
the environment,

African American studies.

The list goes on and on.

described the role of the

president of the university
as someone who is both the

greatest fan and the
greatest critic.

And I think in the case of
Princeton, one of the most

challenging things for a
president is to look at the

University without rose
covered glasses.

KATHRYN HALL: You know, there's so
many things that can happen

that are unexpected in
any new presidency.

And in fact, Shirley, even
before the official

installation, had to face, and
the university had to face,

the tragedy of 9/11.

But Shirley was able to approach
that tragedy in the

way she that she does everything
with warmth, with

understanding, with the
capacity to lead our

university through that very,
very, very difficult and

troubling time.

In fact, we're here today right
now talking in the 9/11

Memorial Garden where 13 alumni
who died on that day

are memorialized.

gather as a community to

remember those who are missing
or who have been lost in the

tragic events in New York,
Washington, and Pennsylvania.

We grieve most especially for
those we knew personally--

family members, friends,
and colleagues.

NANCY MALKIEL: To have a faculty
member like that, so

admired and so well-known across
the campus, be selected

as president was simply
exhilarating, and to have it

be a woman for the first
time at Princeton was

just an added bonus.

SHIRLEY M. TILGHMAN: Princeton is a
remarkable place, and it has

been so for many years.

But it is really important that
it not fall in love with

its propaganda, or its history,
or its reputation,

but be constantly critical of
what we are doing and how we

can do it so much better.

And that's really how I've tried
to think about my 12

years as president, to be able
to see Princeton clearly and

to see where the cracks
in the armor are.

I think about Shirley

Tilghman's legacy, I think about
what she's added to the

social capital of
our university.

And some of that's been done
through the kinds of programs

that she's created in the arts
and other initiatives, but

some of it has been through
force of personality and her


She has this stunning
combination of charm and

engagement and genuine passion
for the mission of Princeton

University, where she's led by
example by being out there on

the campus all the time, and I
think you can feel that in the

spirit of the place.

And when I walk around Princeton
and think about what

Shirley has done for this
university, that's what I

think about most.

understand it, is more or less

the beginning of what will be
Tilghman Walk, which will

traverse the world of the arts,
the infrastructure, the

architectural infrastructure of
the arts, over to the realm

of the sciences.

And that's, for starters, what
Shirley's all about.

I should say that's one of
Shirley's, one could argue, at

the heart of her accomplishment
as president.

One of the things I think
Shirley has done during her

tenure as president is draw
together all kinds of

constituencies, all kinds of
sensibilities, all kinds of

scholars, all kinds
of energies--

artistic, scientific energies
which had not been brought

together before.

This is what Shirley does.

It's what she knows how to do as
a person, and it's what she

knew how to do as a president.

really day one, the day I

walked into the office, I knew
that one of the things I was

going to promote is the growth
in neuroscience.

The surprise for me was what I
discovered in the course of

walking around, were the
limitations for students who

wanted to pursue the creative
and the performing arts.

Now, that was an area of the
university I really knew very

little about when I first
became president, but it

became pretty clear that we were
not serving our students

in the creative and the
performing arts to the extent

that they deserved.

And that began a long process
of beginning to understand

what our programs were, where
we needed to grow, where we

needed to become stronger.

And ultimately, thanks to Peter
Lewis, Princeton's great

benefactor, we were able to
create the Lewis Center for

the Arts and ultimately expand in
visual arts, theater, dance,

creative writing, and music
opportunities for students.

So that today when you walk
around this campus, you just

literally cannot avoid
being part of a great

community of art.

financial crisis hit in the

fall of 2008, Princeton, like
every other institution, had

to really face some
important choices.

Shirley, with her leadership,
helped Princeton navigate

through that really
difficult time.

headlines in the New York

Times just give you the smallest
idea of the impact of

the economic recession.

We have common cause, and that
is that all of us have been

affected by the equivalent of
an economic tsunami, the

perfect storm, where those
institutions with endowments

have seen a decline
in their value.

And all of us who are in the
business of raising resources

for our institutions know that
this is a very, very difficult

time to be asking people to give
to the things that they

care most about.

So this is indeed the
perfect storm.


Good evening.

Good evening.

Good evening.



Thank you.

Thank you.

Together, you've helped to
ensure that future generations

of Princetonians will continue
to receive the finest

education of its kind, and thus
equipped, will continue

to make our world a better
place for all.



Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

can see Shirley Tilghman's

legacy as you walk through the
Princeton campus with the new

buildings that have risen during
her time here and the

extraordinary programs that
reside within them.

And I think about everything
from the residential colleges

to the Neuroscience Institute,
the arts project that is

arising at the edge of our
campus and that will connect

Forbes to the rest of the
campus, the beautiful Lewis

Library, and Sherrerd Hall,
for example, up by


SHIRLEY M. TILGHMAN: Thinking about
engineering as a problem

solving part of the university
rather than individual

disciplines has been, I think,
a big part of the change and

the growth in the engineering
school over

the last few years.

Probably the most important
has been tackling the twin

issues of solving our energy
problems for the future and

protecting the environment.

So the Andlinger Center, which
was made possible, again, by a

great benefactor to the
university, Gary Andlinger, is

involving all of the departments
within the

engineering school, as well as
the Woodrow Wilson School and

departments in the
natural sciences.

The other area where we have
really focused a lot is in

thinking about the university
as one of the world's great

global universities.

It is a pleasure for me to be
here in Shanghai to engage in

this conversation that was
really inspired by William

Fung, who was a member of the
Class of 1970 at Princeton and

currently a trustee
of the university.

I think he described brilliantly
the rationale for

these conferences that we hope
to have in cities around the

world in the years to come.

It's really intended to
spark conversation.

Whether it's in Asia or in
Europe or in the United

States, Princeton is always
ranked as one of the world's

great universities, and if
that's going to continue to be

true, we have to behave like
a global university.

We have to think of ourself as
a global university, and that

means we have to be in the
world and of the world.

And so a lot of what we have
done by creating PIIRS

by creating the Bridge Year
program, by expanding study

abroad, summer global seminars,
on and on and on,

has been to make sure that our
faculty and our students are

going out into the world, and
that we are bringing the world

back to Princeton.

JEFF NUNOKAWA: I saw her at
a meeting of the faculty

recently where the faculty stood
up to acknowledge her.

And what I think was most
impressive to me was the range

of faculty there to approbate
her, the range of faculty to

approbate her from the heart.

This is a woman, a president,
a scholar, who values

scholarship of all
different kinds.

I just have difficulty imagining
how we could have

been luckier, as a university,
how we could have been luckier

than to have had Shirley at the
moment that we had her,

especially, I suppose.

superhuman job, and I think

that we have been very lucky
to have had Shirley in that

role, and we are extremely
fortunate to have Chris

Eisgruber coming up as
our 20th president.

been a challenging job?


It's been a very challenging
job, but it's been a job that

has been immensely rewarding,
and I think that is what I

have focused in on rather than
focusing in on the challenges

as a negative, for example.

JEFF NUNOKAWA: There's just one
other thing I really want

to say, because it's
really important.

It's important to lot of us.

Shirley Tilghman is returning.

She's returning to our ranks.

She's returning to where her
heart has never left, and that

is the faculty of
this university.

VALERIE SMITH: I think as a
university, we are very

fortunate that Shirley will
return to full time teaching

after her leave.

Teaching is so close to her
heart and such an important

passion for her, and I think
we'll all benefit as a

community from being able to
have her wisdom in that role.

coming home.

That's what I'd say.

She's not retiring.

She's coming home.

loved this job.

I've loved it from the moment
I began to, I'm sure, when I

step off the stage on June 30.

It's been immensely rewarding.

It's great to see progress in
real time and to be able to

see the university get better
each and every day.

So I've just taken a lot
of pleasure from it.


Shirley M. Tilghman: Aim high, and be bold
My warmest wishes go with you all [APPLAUSE]

Back To Top