Notebook: June 4, 1997
First Lady: Invest in Kids at Early Age
Hillary Clinton's speech inaugurates campus symposium
Spending more on early childhood development programs saves society money in the long run, according to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who gave the keynote address for the first annual Symposium on New Jersey Issues at the university. "Science now confirms that the song a father sings in the morning, the book a mother reads at night, lays the foundation for our nation's future," Clinton said in a half-hour speech to about 200 listeners.
Recent scientific research shows that what happens from birth to age three establishes the basis for future learning and emotional attachments. Repeated sights, sounds, and other experiences "wire" neurological connections in an infant's brain which influence future behavior. Further, it is the interaction between parent and child that "seals" these connections. Radio and television are not substitutes. "A baby's brain is a work in progress," Clinton said. "Seemingly trivial events we can hardly remember are hardly trivial. Everything has an influence."
The April 25 symposium, sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School and the university's Office of Community and State Affairs, in conjunction with the New Jersey Legislature, was first proposed last October during a commemorative session of the state legislature held on the Princeton campus as part of the university's 250th anniversary celebration. Its purpose was to give lawmakers an opportunity to discuss topics of current interest-in this case, early childhood education-with scholars and practitioners.
Fresh from a White House conference on the subject of early childhood development, Clinton said that 15 years ago it was believed brain circuitry was complete at birth. Now research indicates "nature and nurture cooperate" in determining whether a child becomes peaceful or violent, focused or unfocused.
The challenge is to put this information to use, Clinton said. The National Institutes of Health will spend $904 million studying early childhood development this year, a 25-percent increase in funds since 1993; 90 percent of all research on children's development is federally funded. She defended this spending because "there isn't any other entity that fills this gap."
Clinton advocated quality care, including parenting education, for pregnant women; training for police officers who intervene in domestic disputes; and better training and salaries for child-care workers. Two steps already taken federally are the creation of early Head Start programs and an expansion of the Women, Infants and Children program beyond its nutritional focus. She noted that, due to the recent Welfare Reform Bill, states will receive funds based on their peak welfare caseloads in 1994; since then, caseloads nationally have decreased by 2.8 million people, so some of the funds not spent on welfare could be used to upgrade the child-care system.
Research shows that programs aimed at nurturing young children result in less intervention later on-home visits to train parents in understanding their infants' needs, for example, lead to fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect in those families. "Investing in the early years does save us money later," Clinton said, "but because of pressing budgetary demands, we don't see the connection between building more prisons and preschools, between drugs and police intervention and home visits to parents."
Seven are Promoted to Tenured Ranks
The trustees have approved the following to the tenured rank of associate professor: April Alliston in comparative literature; Miguel A. Centeno in sociology; Beatriz Colomina in architecture; Georgios Deodatis in civil engineering and operations research; Sanjeev R. Kulkarni in electrical engineering; Thomas Y. Levin in Germanic languages and literatures; and Gerard M. Waters in molecular biology.
Alliston's interests include the history and theory of the novel, literary theory, and the relation of the novel to nonfictional prose forms. She teaches comparative history of literary criticism as well as courses on the Enlightenment and Romanticism and the study of gender. She earned her Ph.D. at Yale University in 1988.
Centeno, a native of Cuba, has written extensively about his native country, Mexico, and Latin America. He teaches introductory sociology, political sociology, and a course on Latinos in the United States. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Yale in 1980.
Colomina is an architectural historian and theorist who has written extensively on architecture in relation to print media, photography, advertising, film, and television. She joined the faculty in 1988 after teaching at Columbia University and the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona, Spain, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1990.
Deodatis specializes in probabilistic methods in civil engineering and engineering mechanics, with an emphasis on earthquake engineering applications. He teaches courses on random vibrations, the design of concrete structures, and finite element methods. A native of Greece, Deodatis received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1987.
Kulkarni has taught courses on pattern recognition, machine learning, computer vision, and detection and estimation theory. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991.
Levin's research and teaching interests range from German philosophy to media history and theory. He teaches courses on the history of esthetics and critical theory, on German film history and theory, on literary and cultural theory, and interdisciplinary courses in film and new media. Levin earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale. He is a specialist in the works of Siegfried Kracauer.
Waters studies the molecular mechanisms that govern protein traffic patterns within the cell. He coteaches a graduate course in cellular biochemistry; in the fall he will coteach undergraduate biochemistry. He came to Princeton in 1989, after earning his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University.
Additionally, the trustees made the following appointments from outside the university: Michael Bender, a professor of geosciences, from the University of Rhode Island; John Hopfield, a professor of molecular biology, from the California Institute of Technology (Hopfield had previously taught at Princeton from 1964 to 1980); Robert Kaster, professor of Latin language and literature, from the University of Chicago; Marta Tienda, a professor of sociology and public affairs, from the University of Chicago; and Scott Tremaine, professor of astrophysical sciences, from the University of Toronto.
Faculty File: Showalter's New Book Explores Modern Hysteria
As an English professor steeped in the genteel Victorian literature of the 19th century, Elaine Showalter isn't exactly accustomed to the hostility arriving at her e-mail address. The furor arose shortly before the April publication of her new book Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media (Columbia University Press). In it, she makes the case that the recent emergence of mysterious epidemics-like chronic fatigue, Gulf War Syndrome, and recovered memory of childhood sexual abuse-are nothing more than acute psychosomatic illnesses. She says it's hysteria, a term linked with the 18th and 19th centuries but one that, she argues persuasively, remains a valid interpretive tool to explain America's current fin-de-siècle anxiety. Until sufferers and our culture acknowledge the psychological origins of their physical afflictions, they'll continue to be held hostage to halfbaked conspiracy theories making the rounds in the media today.
"A lot of the e-mail, especially from sufferers of chronic fatigue, has been fairly nasty,'' says Showalter, an Avalon Foundation Professor of the Humanities. "But I'm at that moment in my life and career that I'm ready to take it on intellectually. Besides, I wanted to reach an audience that might learn something new. Meanwhile, I keep repeating this mantra to myself: 'No heat, no light.' ''
Those angry with Showalter's conclusions haven't stopped at sending e-mail messages. At a book signing in Washington, D.C., Showalter was whisked away when those seeking her autograph were outnumbered by angry advocates and sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome who wanted to argue with her. While appearances on radio and television talk shows have gone well, the media hosts have been inundated by faxes and phone calls condemning the book.
Showalter understands that the word "hysteria" is loaded with implication, viewed as an effeminate pejorative to describe a sexually frustrated 19th-century woman wracked by unfulfillment. She's cognizant that a suffering Gulf War veteran isn't likely to react kindly when told that his aching joints and skin rash are the results, not of chemical gas, but acute combat neuroses.
Such a prognosis doesn't make Showalter any less sympathetic to their suffering-or to others'. On the contrary. "For so many people, hysteria is such a terrible, humiliating term," she says. "People want to be treated with respect by doctors, which I completely sympathize with. It is legitimate. But these people don't believe that psychological disease is legitimate, especially men. So they need some kind of label to put on how they are feeling. They are very angry. And it's sad."
Hystories is the most recent evidence of Showalter's eclectic interests, which have resulted in five other books and numerous magazine articles. She is best known as an authority on 19th- and 20th-century women's literature as well as being a pioneer of feminist literary criticism, "the country's most renowned,'' The New York Times Magazine once observed. Yet, Showalter has moonlighted as a historian of women's psychiatry through her 19-year affiliation with the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, where she spends summers with her British-born husband, a professor of French language and literature at Rutgers University.
Her long acquaintance with London-"our second home," she says-has opened other doors: writing for and appearing on television and radio productions of the BBC as well as authoring essays and reviews for leading English publications. "In England, academic specialization isn't as rigid as it is in the United States, where you are typecast," says Showalter. "Over there, they figure, since you are an intellectual, you can do most anything. I do have a lot of interests, and I have been eager to make use of them, to express them."
So, leaving behind the world of Brontë and Lessing, she entered that of Jerry Seinfeld, Batman, O. J. Simpson, Disneyland, opera, and architecture-all of them a primer for her 1996 tour-of-duty as a television critic for People magazine (she was hired by Landon Y. Jones, Jr. '66, the magazine's former managing editor). "It was a wonderful experience for me, the chance to tell 35 million readers about some shows I really got excited about," says Showalter, a longtime subscriber to the magazine. "I love popular culture. It tapped a whole side of me that had a lot to say."
Showalter soon will be wearing yet another hat. The president-elect of the Modern Language Association for 1998, she'll take a leave of absence from Princeton to head an organization that addresses the problems facing the humanities, education in general, and employment prospects for graduate students. It's also a position with a public profile and one often under attack. But, fortified by her 30-year role in the feminist movement and braced by the reaction to her new book, Showalter wonders, "What could they possibly do to me?"
In Memoriam: Martin Schwarzchild
Martin Schwarzschild, Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy, emeritus, died April 10 at St. Mary's Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, after a heart attack. He was 84.
Schwarzschild made seminal contributions to the study of stellar structure and stellar evolution. His work explained the existence of giant stars, with extended hydrogen envelopes around helium cores, and uncovered new phenomena that occur during a stellar lifetime. His 1958 book, Structure and Evolution of the Stars, has been a standard text for a generation of students in this field. He was awarded the National Medal of Science posthumously by President Bill Clinton.
Working with John von Neumann in the late 1940s, he was one of the first to use electronic digital computers for scientific research. He also collaborated with astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer on the design of a fusion reactor that mimics the Sun. Schwarzschild pioneered in the use of space telescopes for precise imagery of the Sun, planets, and stellar systems. His Stratoscope I, a 12-inch solar telescope lifted to 80,000 feet altitude by balloon, was the first instrument to obtain sharp photographs above most of the earth's atmosphere, and gave new information on processes in the Sun's atmosphere. His subsequent Stratoscope II, with a mirror of 36 inches, gave similar first-of-a-kind results of outer planets and galactic nuclei.
He was born in 1912 in Potsdam, Germany. His father, Karl, was a celebrated astrophysicist. Martin Schwarzschild received his Ph.D. from the University of Goettingen in 1935 and was a research fellow at the Harvard College Observatory. As a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he analyzed bombing results. After teaching at Columbia, he joined the Princeton faculty in 1947.
Moving on: Episcopal chaplain
Frank C. Strasburger '67 has accepted the presidency of the Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB), an organization that raises funds to provide financial aid for black South Africans attending medical school. He has served on the MESAB's board for the past four years. Strasburger, who has been at the university for 11 years, will leave the chaplaincy this summer. A search committee is seeking a replacement.
Moving on: Episcopal chaplain Frank C. Strasburger ¹67 has accepted the presidency of the Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB), an organization that raises funds to provide financial aid for black South Africans attending medical school. He has served on the MESAB¹s board for the past four years. Strasburger, who has been at the university for 11 years, will leave the chaplaincy this summer. A search committee is seeking a replacement.
Track stadium: The new track and field stadium currently under construction will be named for investment banker William M. Weaver, Jr. '34, who has given the university a gift for the stadium. The amount of the gift was not made public, but the cost of construction for the track and grandstands is estimated at $5 million. Weaver, a retired partner in the firm of Alex. Brown and Sons, was a varsity runner and jumper at Princeton and has been a long-time supporter of the university's track program.
The new facility, which is part of a complex that will replace Palmer Stadium, will be located on Frelinghuysen Field, between the new football stadium and Jadwin Gymnasium. The track, with eight lanes measuring 1.22 meters wide, was designed by track-and-field consultant Don Paige. It will have a polyurethane surface. Overlooking the track will be a grandstand with a seating capacity of 2,500. It is expected to be completed in the fall of 1998.
Executive joins faculty: The chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., Norman Augustine ¹57 *59, will join the faculty in September as a lecturer with the rank of professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, after retiring as Lockheed Martin¹s CEO. He will have a special affiliation in mechanical and aerospace engineering, the department from which he received his degrees, and will begin formal teaching in the spring. Augustine has served as a university trustee, and he received the James Madison Medal in 1995.