Notebook: May 8, 1996
UNIVERSITY SAYS "YES" TO JUST 11.3 PERCENT
A record 14,868 applicants seek admission to the Class of 2000
Getting into Princeton, it seems, has never been tougher. This year the Office of Admission received a record total 14,868 applications for the Class of 2000, up from 14,311 last year, and offered admission to only 11.3 percent of the applicant pool, down from 14 percent last year.
In early April, Dean of Admission Fred A. Hargadon sent offers of admission to 1,124 students-142 fewer than last year. His office had already admitted 556 students who had applied in the early-decision round, in December. (Students apply for early decision with the understanding that they will enroll if accepted.) In all, Hargadon offered admission to 1,680 prospective students.
The drop in the number of those offered admission, said Hargadon, is in part due to the need to aim for a smaller entering class to help offset last year's larger than expected enrollment in the Class of 1999, which is 1,213. Also, the Office of Admission has had to be conservative in estimating the number of students who will accept Princeton's offer, he said, given the unexpected increase in yield last year, when 60 percent accepted. Hargadon expects the Class of 2000 to number 1,130 students, including 30 drawn from the wait list.
"The decisions have never been more difficult to make," said Hargadon, "not just because of a larger applicant group and our aiming for a smaller freshman class, but also because . . . we've never seen an applicant pool as deep as this year's in terms of sheer academic, extracurricular, and personal accomplishments."
Forty-three percent of the applicants had SAT verbal scores of 700 or higher, said Hargadon, and 53 percent had SAT math scores of 700 or higher. Applicants with combined SAT scores of 1,400 or higher numbered 6,627. Those with 4.0 high school grade-point averages numbered 3,899.
According to Hargadon, of those applicants offered admission, 53 percent are men and 47 percent are women. Last year's ratio was 51:49. Approximately 35 percent of admitted applicants are members of minority groups, and almost 6 percent are international students. Children of alumni make up about 10 percent of the those admitted, a 1 percent increase from last year. (Because of the high percentage of alumni children who accept Princeton's offer, the percentage of legacy matriculants will almost certainly be higher.)
The Office of Admission received applications from more than 5,000 secondary schools from all 50 states and 114 other countries. The admitted students, who represent 48 states and 31 foreign countries, have until the first of May to reply to Princeton's offer of admission.
Princeton's growing applicant pool reflects a national trend at the nation's most competitive colleges, which received record numbers of applications and have seen a rise in applications of 50 percent in the last decade, according to The New York Times.
Harvard received 18,190 applications this year and offered admission to 1,985, or 10.9 percent-the lowest percentage in Harvard's history. Yale accepted 2,372 applicants, 18.3 percent of its 12,952 applicant pool.
FORMER LEADERS EXAMINE END OF COLD WAR
Former U.S. and Soviet leaders who helped bring the Cold War to a close convened at the Woodrow Wilson School on March 29-30 for a conference titled "Cold War Endgame." It focused on the Soviet-American relationship from January 1989 through the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
The panel, moderated by Don Oberdorfer '52, a former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, and Professor of Politics Fred I. Greenstein, included former Secretary of State James A. Baker III '52 and former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union Alexandr Bessmertnykh.
The other Americans on the panel were Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union; Brent Scowcroft, former assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; and Robert Zoellick, former counselor of the State Department under Baker. The other Russians were Anatoly Chernyaev, former personal adviser on foreign affairs to President Gorbachev; Pavel Palazchenko, special assistant and interpreter to Gorbachev; and Sergei Tarasenko, former principal policy assistant to Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
The panelists discussed the dramatic events that led to the end of the Cold War, including the reunification of Germany and the realignment of Europe after the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. They also explored the dynamics of the Soviet-American cooperation in the Persian Gulf crisis and the collapse of Gorbachev's support and of the Soviet Union itself.
This conference, which would have been unthinkable just five or six years ago, said Baker in his opening remarks, was an attempt to "bridge the gap between the world of scholars and the world of practitioners." The conference also helped the former U.S. and Soviet leaders better understand each other's actions and motives during the end of the war, said Greenstein. The leaders, he added, expressed "no lingering animosity" and reviewed past events in an atmosphere of mutal respect.
The panelists' discussion demonstrated, as Baker said, that "there really is no single explanation for the peaceful end of the Cold War." The two nations' panelists could agree only to disagree on when the Cold War ended.
According to Baker, the December 1989 Malta summit between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev (their first face-to-face encounter) was the beginning of the "diplomacy" that brought an end to the conflict. But Malta wasn't the end itself, he added. Two events that did signal the end of the Cold War were the united U.S.-Soviet stand against Iraq's "naked aggression" in the Persian Gulf, in August 1990, and the reunification of Germany, on October 3, 1990.
Russian panelists, on the other hand, said the Cold War ended with the Malta summit, citing as evidence Gorbachev's remark to Bush at that meeting, "We don't consider you an enemy anymore."
Bessmertnykh characterized the Cold War as an "intersystem conflict," which had started in 1917 (with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia) and ended "when Gorbachev recognized freedom of choice among Eastern European nations." The end of the Cold War was a calculated Soviet decision, said Russian panelists, independent of what Baker called the Soviets' "economic stagnation" and the "political earthquake" occurring in the USSR.
Moreover, Bessmertnykh made a distinction between the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, even though the two did influence each other. "The Cold War was something we [Soviets and Americans] tried to kill together," he said. "There were no winners, and the loser was the Socialist system. But the Soviet Union could have still existed." The American panelists, however, described the end of the Cold War as a victory over the Soviets.
Russian panelists emphasized the people's lost faith in communism. "The USSR could not have been saved and should not have been saved, because it was a totalitarian and unitary state, even though it was called a federation," said Chernyaev. Tarasenko drew applause from the audience when he said, "Society consists of people, and if it loses the support of the people, it has no right to continue to exist. When that happened, the Soviet Union was doomed, and communism was doomed."
This story was adapted from articles written by Rick Klein '98 and Reema Abdelhamid '99 for The Daily Princetonian.
SVC HEAD NURTURES VOLUNTEERS
Part of Eleanor Harrison '92's job as program coordinator of the Student Volunteers Council is helping student-volunteers re-enter life at Princeton after they've helped society's poor, hungry, and neglected. Seeing how little many people have makes some volunteers wonder about the relevance of such things as mid-term exams, history papers, and bicker.
In March, upon returning to campus from an SVC trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador, where Harrison and 14 students built a classroom addition to a Christian orphanage, volunteers flooded each other's electronic-mail boxes, trying to put their experiences in perspective and to find meaning in their lives at Princeton. According to Harrison, who has received 200 such e-mail messages, one student wrote: "Why should I do this problem set? And why am I stressed about room draw when I know that there are kids in Ecuador, New York, and Trenton who don't have a roof over their heads?"
In addition to helping students integrate service work and academe, Harrison helps them secure funding for internships and coordinate their projects. In jeans and with her hair pulled back, Harrison looks like the students she supports and guides.
The student-run SVC is a clearinghouse for community-service projects at the university, says Harrison, who took over her post last summer. In any week, about 600 students are involved in SVC's more than 60 projects. And by the end of this year, about 2,000 students will have been involved in SVC activities. They can choose from a wide range of community-service projects, from recording for the blind and renovating houses in Trenton to serving as "buddies" to HIV-positive teenage girls. In conjunction with the Alumni Council and alumni associations, SVC also organizes summer-service internships at social-service agencies in cities throughout the country. The Class of 1967 joined forces with the SVC recently to organize 12 summer internships at several agencies, among them a housing project in East Harlem, Habitat for Humanity in Austin, Texas, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in Princeton.
Harrison isn't new to community service. A religion major whose thesis was on racism in an Episcopal church in her native Savannah, Georgia, she volunteered as an undergraduate in the Blairstown Family Action Project, helping homeless families in the Princeton area learn vital interpersonal skills, and she tutored children in after-school programs. After graduation, she worked at a service center in New Mexico and later at the Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colorado (featured in the March 6 paw), a residential high school for at-risk kids. Then the travel bug hit; for six months she toured Pakistan, India, Thailand, and Indonesia.
She applied for the SVC position, because it combines her interests in education and community service, which she believes should be integrated with curriculum. Community service "is part and parcel of an education," she says. "You can't grow leaders, especially civic leaders," if they are spending four years holed up in carrels and not out in the community. The most rewarding part of her job, she says, is working with the students and "seeing them learn and grow and create programs." She's impressed and even surprised at how dedicated they are to service. "When I see them come into the SVC office after they've had their JP due yesterday and have this big event they're pulling off tomorrow, I'm astounded at how they get it all done."
-Kathryn F. Greenwood
ARCHIVING ORAL HISTORIES
"Imagine an informal Reunions dinner with James Baker '52, Queen Noor '73, Pete Carril, John McPhee '53, and George Will *68, and you'll understand what a marvelous time I've had working on this project," says Cynthia Penney '83, editor of "Going Back: An Oral History of Princeton."
Penney has listened to these alumni talk about all things Princeton. The collection of oral histories of more than 30 alumni, ranging from the late S. Whitney Landon '17, a former chairman of the Alumni Council, to Wendy S. Kopp '89, the founder of Teach for America and the youngest graduate to receive the Woodrow Wilson award, is sponsored by the Alumni Council as part of the university's 250th anniversary celebration.
Members of the Alumni Council's Princetoniana Committee, which Penney chairs, conducted the interviews and this summer will present transcripts of the talks to the University Archives, in Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. The transcripts, says Penney, will also be available by Reunions on the Alumni Council's home page (http://www.princeton.edu/~alco/). The committee will publish a 50-page booklet featuring excerpts, period photographs, and a cover drawing by New Yorker cartoonist and committee member Henry Martin '48. Booklets will be available during Reunions at Maclean House and at Mudd Library.
Not all the oral-history subjects are famous; the primary criterion for inclusion, says Penney, is service to Princeton. Other alumni chronicled include former trustee Susan Craig Scott '70, the first woman (alphabetically) to graduate from Princeton, and Brent L. Henry '69, the university's first African-American trustee. Donald P. Dickson '49, a former chairman of the Alumni Council, talks about bicker; football great Dick Kazmaier '52 shares his reaction to appearing on the cover of Time magazine in his senior year; and songwriter Clark Gesner '60 recalls touring with Triangle.
The Princetoniana Committee wants to expand and diversify the group, says Penney, who invites interested alumni to contact her through the Alumni Council (P.O. Box 291, Princeton, NJ 08544) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Boardman Eager, a former director of the university's Office of Communications/Publications, died of liver failure on March 16 at his home in Cranbury, New Jersey. He was 70.
Eager held that post for 12 years and retired from the university in 1989. Prior to his association with Princeton, he had been director of public affairs for the Delaware Medical Center in Wilmington, Delaware, the executive officer of the International Council for Educational Development in New York City, and assistant to the president of Cornell. He had also directed the Puerto Rico Information Office in New York and the University of Virginia Alumni Fund, and he had been a press officer for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Eager served in the Navy on submarines during World War II and earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1950.
Computer security flaw: Edward W. Felten, assistant professor of computer science, and two graduate students, Drew Dean and Dan Wallach, set off a small tremor in the computing world in February when they discovered a security flaw in a popular software product, Netscape's new Navigator 2.0. Netscape's new system lets users create Web-based programs with the computer language Java, developed by Sun Microsystems. It was billed as a safe language for launching programs or "applets" that would not connect with any computer except the server, or central storage unit on which they originated. But the Princeton researchers found a way around that, creating the possibility that a Java-based creation could be downloaded and then "talk" to other computers on a company network. That could allow the applet to view confidential data on other PCs. By March 4, Netscape had posted a way to fix the problem. Several weeks later, Felten, Dean, and Wallach found another bug in the Java feature of Netscape's Navigator that would allow hackers who create Web pages to tap into the private information of users of those Web pages.
Downsizing: In his new study, "The Changing Face of Job Loss in the United States, 1981-1993," Professor of Economics Henry S. Farber *77 has found that the public portrait of unemployment is somewhat distorted. While it's true that older, more educated workers are suffering more job losses than in years past, younger workers and those who didn't attend college still lose jobs at a higher rate. And once unemployed, they fare worse than those who attend college. Farber examined data from Displaced Worker Surveys, conducted as part of the Current Population Survey. Among his findings: Displaced workers have a "substantial probability"-about 25 percent-of not landing a new job. For those with a college education, the probability is 16 percent; for those with a high-school education, it is 27. Of those who find new jobs, about 25 percent will work part-time, compared to 11 percent before displacement. Among the college educated, the rate of part-time re-employment is 19 percent; for high-school graduates, it's 26.