July 3, 2002: Notebook
When it comes to rivers and river basins, there are few more influential scholars in the world than Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, who began teaching in his native Venezuela 35 years ago and eventually landed at MIT before arriving at Princeton in 1999. Some-times referred to as the father of ecohydrology, Rodriguez-Iturbe teaches in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute, where he is acting director.
Rodriguez-Iturbes work recently earned him the 2002 Stockholm Water Prize, a $150,000 award known as the Nobel Prize of water. The Stockholm Water Foundation is honoring him for his scientific contributions to the understanding of the interaction between climate, soil and vegetation structures, surface water, and floods and droughts.
One of his major discoveries came in the 1990s, when Rodriguez-Iturbe and his collaborators established that despite the infinite variety of shapes and forms river basins take, they have a common structure in their two- and three-dimensional organization. He was also able to develop equations that predicted the drainage pattern that nature will produce under different climatic and geologic conditions.
He has used his knowledge to develop a unique undergraduate class, The Fractal Beauty of Landscapes, and he also teaches two of the countrys first undergraduate and graduate courses in ecohydrology, which involves the interaction of the atmosphere and hydrology with plants and soil.
I love the geosciences, and I had studied engineering in Venezuela. Hydrology is a perfect combination of the two, he says. I love to try to explain whats going on in nature.
Talking with Tilghman
Photo: In her second annual open forum at Reunions, President Tilghman talked with alumni about a range of issues affecting the university. (Robert Sciarrino)
More than 500 alumni took a break from their Reunions revelry to sit down in Richardson Auditorium on June 1 and listen to President Tilghman as she covered her very extraordinary rookie year and answered questions from the audience.
Tilghman opened with prepared comments on what shes learned during her first year in office, including deciphering the ins and outs of Princetons $801-million budget. I used to think that quantum mechanics was the most complicated thing I had to learn, she said.
She then focused on the continued success of Princetons student body, citing this years two Rhodes scholars and four Marshall scholars.
She also stressed the connection between recruiting quality students and bringing in and retaining quality faculty, including those whom alumni have not read about on the cover of the New York Times, a reference to the media frenzy surrounding the return of Cornel West *80 and the appointment of K. Anthony Appiah, both of whom are leaving Harvard for Princeton this fall. I did not want to give you the impression that we only recruited two people this year, joked Tilghman, who credited Provost Amy Gutmann with helping fight off the many raids from lesser institutions that targeted current Princeton professors.
With cement trucks and green fencing greeting alumni this year, Tilghman also addressed construction on campus. Starting on a positive note, she pointed out that two buildings opened their doors this year, the newly renovated Bobst Center for Peace and Justice and the Friend Center for Engineering Education.
One of the major upcoming projects she talked about was Whitman College, the universitys sixth residential college, which is scheduled to be ready for Princetons 500-student expansion in 2006.
When the floor opened up to questions, alumni asked Tilghman to cover topics that ranged from admissions and athletics to what issues most concern her.
At that question, Tilghman quickly turned the conversation to alcohol, but said that her administration has not uncovered evidence of any large-scale drug problem on campus. She said there is an informal ethos on campus of work hard, play hard that some students follow. I think they see Thursday and Saturday night as a release of the pressure cooker, Tilghman said. We have to continue to work with students on releasing the pressure in ways that do not kill neurons.
About admissions, Tilghman said Dean of Admission Fred Hargadon has the hardest job in the world, which this year included dealing with a swell in applications following the success of the Princeton-based film A Beautiful Mind. She also addressed the legacy issue. Legacies performances measure up to the Princeton student body as a whole, she said, adding that if a situation arose where it was a coin toss decision for Hargadon between two indistinguishable students, Dean Fred will give the legacy an advantage.
Tilghman said she plans to make her Conversation with the President an annual Reunions event until no one shows up.
Photos from Princeton Communications
Samuel Atkins 31 *35, professor, emeritus, of classics, died of congestive heart failure March 20 in California. He was 91.
Atkins, a member of the faculty since 1937, served as chair of the classics department from 1961 to 1972. He transferred to emeritus status in 1978.
An expert in Vedic philology and Indo-European linguistics, his areas of interest included Hellenistic literature, Greek, and literary criticism of Greek and Latin texts. He also taught Sanskrit in the East Asian studies department.
Born in Madison, New Jersey, at Princeton Atkins was awarded the George Wood Legacy Prize, presented for academic excellence during the junior year. He earned his doctorate in Oriental studies.
Marion J. Levy, Jr., the Musgrave Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, emeritus, died May 26 of complications from Parkinsons disease. He was 83.
Levy was known for his scholarly contributions and his passionate involvement in academic issues. He often was seen in the company of the Komondor dogs he loved and bred, and a self-published book, Levys Laws of the Disillusionment of the True Liberal, became a classic often quoted far beyond Princeton.
Levy came to Princeton in 1947 after earning a doctorate in sociology from Harvard. In the 1950s, he became a central figure in efforts to make sociology scientific. During the 1960s, Levy was best known for his writing on modernization theory. Over his lifetime, Levy wrote or contributed to 15 books and published more than 100 articles and reviews.
Throughout his career at Princeton, and especially during the 1960s and 1970s, he engaged in often vehement discussions about the role of the university and higher education. Levy became an emeritus professor in 1989.
Program to teach minority students about journalism
Photo:Richard Just 01 (Ricardo Barros)
his summer, 20 alumni and current staffers of the Daily Princetonian are launching The Daily Princetonian Class of 2001 Summer Journalism Program specifically for minorities. Twenty-two Latino and African-American high school students, mostly juniors, will spend a week at Princeton learning the ins and outs of working at a college newspaper, including reporting stories, taking pictures, and laying out pages, said former Prince editor-in-chief Richard Just 01.
Just and his editorial staff helped get the program off the ground in the closing days of their Princeton careers after a series the newspaper produced on race at Princeton made them take a look at their own organization. He said they found that the Prince newsroom lacked the diversity of the community it covered. In addition, a 1999 survey of college newspapers by the National Association of Newspapers found that more than one-third of college papers made no special efforts to recruit minorities.
The Prince had failed to attract the diverse staff that every newspaper should be striving for, says Just, now a writing fellow at the American Prospect magazine in Washington, D.C. Were hoping the kids coming out of this program will be fired up about going to college and getting an opportunity to work at newspapers while theyre there.
The program is being funded in part with the help of Hodding Carter III 57, the president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Jewish opinions differ on campus
Photo: A group of 21 Princeton students attended the Israel Solidarity Rally in Washington, D.C., on April 15. (Yuval Eisenberg)
Jewish students differ in response to Mideast conflictOn April 18, the
Princeton Israel Public Affairs Committee (PIPAC) rallied in support of
Israel in response to a rally by the Princeton Divestment Campaign, an
organization that calls for Princeton to divest from its interests in
Israel. According to Dan Fishman 04, an officer of PIPAC, many students
on campus were frustrated by the divestment campaign, and wanted to see
a concrete Jewish opposition.
By Melissa Harvis Renny 03
James Baker 52 has donated his papers to Princeton. A top-level official in the administrations of three U.S. presidents, Baker was also Americas chief diplomat at the end of the Cold War and witnessed the collapse of Communism. (Photo by Denise Applewhite)
The national press reported at the beginning of June that Henry Louis Gates, director of the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, has decided to remain at Harvard in order to rebuild its program after losing two prominent scholars to Princeton this year. It had been speculated that Gates would relocate to Princeton, where he has a standing offer, said the Associated Press.
The university has published a book about its Forrestal campus. Called Princetons James Forrestal Campus: Fifty Years of Sponsored Research, the book was written by J. I. Merritt 66 and chronicles the history of the facility that was begun in 1951 under the aegis of President Goheen. The campus is home to research endeavors in fusion, atmospherics, and gas dynamics.
At Reunions the Class of 1950 handed off its Model T to the Class of 1982. Hank Rentschler 50, left, poses with Tony Santullo 82. The car was bought by William Spencer 15 for his classs 20th reunion. It was later passed to the Class of 1950. (Photo by Frank Wojciechoski)