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For immediate release: May 5, 2001

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-5748,

Shirley Tilghman named Princeton University's 19th President

Princeton, N.J. -- Shirley M. Caldwell Tilghman, a member of the Princeton University faculty since 1986, an exceptional teacher, and a world-renowned scholar and leader in the field of molecular biology, was elected Princeton's 19th President at a special meeting this morning of the Board of Trustees. She will take office on June 15, 2001, succeeding Harold T. Shapiro, who last fall announced his intention to retire from the presidency at the end of this academic year following more than 13 years of service.

Tilghman was elected upon the "unanimous and more than enthusiastic" recommendation of a search committee composed of trustees, faculty members, students and staff, according to Robert H. Rawson, Jr., chair of the trustees' Executive Committee, who also chaired the search committee.

"Dr. Tilghman epitomizes Princeton's fundamental commitments to scholarship, teaching and service to others," Rawson said. "Her character and her outstanding human qualities have made her a valued colleague among her peers and an inspiration to her students. We considered many excellent candidates, but as we move forward into this new century, Dr. Tilghman seems to us the ideal person to lead this University and to inspire all of us in the Princeton family to join with her in enhancing Princeton's many contributions to higher education, to research, and to society at large."

President Shapiro described the appointment as "a distinctive and wonderful moment in Princeton's history. Professor Tilghman is an eminent scholar and teacher, and is certain to lead Princeton into a new era of achievement and distinction. Princeton is fortunate indeed to have attracted a person with such broad-based commitments to the welfare of all parts of the Princeton community and to the broader world of scholarship, education and public service."

President-elect Tilghman thanked the trustees for "this opportunity to lead a university that I have come to admire greatly over these past 15 years. As the result of Harold Shapiro's leadership, the University is in extraordinarily good shape to face the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us. I know that I have much to learn over the coming months, but I also know that I can depend on the advice and counsel of all members of the Princeton community, from our faculty, staff and students here on campus to the trustees and alumni family."

Tilghman joined the Princeton faculty in 1986 as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences. In 1998 she took on additional responsibilities as the founding director of Princeton's multi-disciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. The Institute's broad interdisciplinary mission -- to study fundamental biological problems that depend on taking large amounts of information about genes, proteins or structures and revealing how they are integrated into a coherent whole -- grew out of Tilghman's role as one of the architects of the national effort to map the entire human genome. Her own academic work has focused on mammalian genetics, in particular the role that genes play in the development of the mammalian embryo. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the Royal Society of London.

Tilghman is renowned not only for her pioneering research, but for her national leadership on behalf of women in science and for promoting efforts to make the early careers of young scientists as meaningful and productive as possible. She received national attention for a report on "Trends in the Careers of Life Scientists" that was issued in 1998 by a committee she chaired for the National Research Council, and she has helped launch the careers of many scholars as a member of the Pew Charitable Trusts Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Selection Committee and the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholar Selection Committee.

From 1993 through 2000, Tilghman chaired Princeton's Council on Science and Technology, which encourages the teaching of science and technology to students outside the sciences, and in 1996 she received Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her teaching has ranged from first-year undergraduates to postdoctoral students. In 1993 she taught one of Princeton's first science-based freshman seminars and several years later she began teaching a special science course for freshmen and sophomores who were not planning to major in the sciences. She has taught molecular biology core courses for both undergraduates and graduate students. She also initiated the Princeton Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship, a program across all the science and engineering disciplines that brings postdoctoral students to Princeton each year to gain experience in both research and teaching.

Tilghman has participated actively in teaching and other programs for alumni. She led, with civil engineering Professor David Billington, an alumni studies program on Science and Technology in the Liberal Arts Curriculum; taught an alumni college on behavioral genetics; and will be leading a program on the human genome project later this spring for the Class of 1943. She has given more than a dozen on-campus talks for alumni on Alumni Day, at Reunions and on other occasions, and over recent years has traveled to speak with alumni in Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Memphis, Montreal, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Savannah and Seattle.

Like President Shapiro, Tilghman, 54, is a native of Canada. She was born in Toronto but attended high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received her Honors B.Sc. in chemistry from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1968, and after two years of secondary school teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa, she obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Temple University in Philadelphia. During postdoctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health she made a number of groundbreaking discoveries while participating in cloning the first mammalian gene, and then continued to make scientific breakthroughs in understanding the structure and mechanism of expression of mammalian genes during development as an independent investigator at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia and an adjunct associate professor of human genetics and biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Two years after arriving at Princeton, she also joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an investigator and began serving as an adjunct professor in the department of biochemistry at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Her work broadened to include the analysis of genes whose expression pattern is determined by whether the gene is inherited from mothers or fathers, and she proposed the first model to explain the mechanism of parent-specific silencing of genes. Her interest in genome analysis stems from her participation in the National Research Council's committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project, and she was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project Initiative for the National Institutes of Health.

She has been a trustee of Rockefeller University in New York; of the Jackson Laboratory, a mammalian genetics institute in Bar Harbor, Maine; and of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. She also has been a member of the Advisory Council to the Director of the National Institutes of Health and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Sciences at MIT.

Tilghman has two children, a 20-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and an 18-year-old son, Alex. Her daughter is a member of the Princeton Class of 2002, majoring in art history.

Tilghman was originally one of five members of the faculty elected to serve on the 18-member Presidential Search Committee. According to committee chair Rawson, "about six weeks ago, Professor Tilghman had to leave a meeting early to teach. In her absence, the rest of the committee agreed that it wanted to ask her to become a candidate. Once she became a candidate she withdrew from the committee. As sorry as we were to lose her good counsel, we were absolutely delighted to be in a position to recommend her, as we have now done, to be elected Princeton's new President."

Other faculty members of the search committee were Jeffrey Carbeck, assistant professor of chemical engineering; Mark Johnston, professor and chair of philosophy who received his Princeton Ph.D. in 1984; Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public policy; and James Sturm, professor of electrical engineering and a member of the Princeton Class of 1979, who served as one of the vice-chairs of the committee.

Johnston said, "Shirley Tilghman is an extraordinary person, and she will be an extraordinary President. My fellow search committee members and I took special care not to be swayed by her having been on the committee. In effect, we held her to a higher standard. We found her to be a wonderful scholar who is devoted to serving Princeton and the wider academic community. She has an exciting academic vision for Princeton, one with which I completely identify. As a representative of the humanities, I was especially keen to discern her attitude to that half of the academic community. She speaks and thinks of the humanities as 'the soul of the University.' I am convinced that the humanities will thrive during her presidency. We should all be very thankful to Shirley for her readiness to take on the great task of the Princeton presidency."

Student members of the committee were Lauren Hale, a third-year graduate student in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs who chairs the Graduate Student Government; P.J. Kim, a member of the Class of 2001 who served this past year as president of the Undergraduate Student Government; and Lisa Lazarus, a member of the Class of 2002 who is majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School with a concentration in Latin American Studies.

"I am extremely happy that Professor Tilghman has accepted our offer to become Princeton's next President," Kim said. "Princeton will be going through several important changes in the next few years as the student body expands, a new residential college is built, and groundbreaking academic initiatives reinvigorate the campus. I do not believe there is anyone more inspirational, more in touch, and more capable of being at the helm."

Hale said, "As the graduate student representative on the committee, I am thrilled with our strong selection. Shirley Tilghman has considerable Princeton experience, a keen understanding of matters facing the academy, and widespread support from her colleagues and students. She is both an accomplished scientist and a visionary leader. We are lucky to have her."

Also serving on the committee was an administrative staff representative, Kathleen Deignan, dean of undergraduate students.

The nine trustees were Brent Henry '69, senior vice president and general counsel of MedStar Health, Inc., a non-profit hospital system and former chair of the Princeton Alumni Council; Dennis Keller '63, chair and CEO of DeVry, Inc. and DeVry University; Spencer Merriweather '00, legislative correspondent in the office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and president of the Undergraduate Student Government while at Princeton; Heidi Miller '74, vice chair of Marsh Inc. and former chief financial officer of Citigroup and; Robert Murley '72, vice chair of Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk '72, a principal in Duany Plater-Zyberk, Architects, and dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Miami; Robert Rawson '66, partner-in-charge in the Cleveland office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, attorneys, and chair of the search committee; John Wynne '67, president and CEO of Landmark Communications. Inc., a privately held media company with interests in newspapers, broadcasting, cable programming (including the Weather Channel), electronic publishing and other media; and Paul Wythes '55, founder and general partner of Sutter Hill Ventures, a venture capital firm, who served as the committee's other vice-chair.

Staff support was provided by Thomas H. Wright, Jr. '62, vice-president and secretary of the University.