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For immediate release: September 21, 2003
Contact: Patricia Allen, (609) 258-6108, pallen@princeton.edu

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Durkee to succeed Wright as vice president and secretary

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Robert K. Durkee, Princeton University's vice president for public affairs, will succeed Thomas H. Wright as vice president and secretary of the University when Wright retires, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Durkee also will retain his current oversight of the University's public affairs activities.

Wright, a member of the Princeton class of 1962, joined the administration in July 1972 as general counsel. Two years later he also was named secretary of the University. In 1990 he gave up the responsibilities of general counsel and was promoted to the position of vice president and secretary. In this capacity he serves as a senior adviser to the president, provides administrative support for the Board of Trustees and oversees the official convocations of the University such as Commencement. In recent years, Wright also has supervised the offices of the general counsel and the vice president for campus life. Effective with his retirement, those offices will report directly to the president.

Durkee, a member of the Princeton class of 1969, joined the administration in the spring of 1972 as assistant to the president and, after a year on leave to serve as executive assistant to the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Association of American Universities, was appointed vice president for public affairs in 1978. In this capacity he oversees the offices of the Alumni Council, communications, community and state affairs and government affairs.

The trustees elected Durkee to succeed Wright at their regularly scheduled Sept. 19 meeting. They also designated Wright as vice president and secretary emeritus, effective upon his retirement.

"There is no way that I could adequately express all that Tom Wright has meant to this University or to the three presidents and more than 180 trustees he has served so capably during his tenure," said President Shirley M. Tilghman. "His devotion to Princeton, his superb judgment and his commitment to the highest standards of excellence have shaped every major decision and action this University has taken for more than three decades.

"While I am sorry to see Tom retire," Tilghman continued, "I cannot imagine anyone better qualified than Bob Durkee to succeed him in this critical role. Bob joined the administration in the final months of Bob Goheen's presidency and has served as a close adviser to Bill Bowen, to Harold Shapiro and to me. He also has served on and staffed several trustee committees and has worked closely with the board for more than 30 years. At the same time, he has developed a national reputation as one of the leading university public affairs vice presidents, and I am delighted that he will continue to oversee public affairs for Princeton."

Robert H. Rawson Jr., chair of the board's Executive Committee, said, "On behalf of my trustee colleagues spanning three decades, I express our admiration, affection and gratitude to Tom Wright. In profound ways he has contributed to the health of Princeton, and through his friendship and support to the effectiveness of all trustees. We will miss his wise counsel.

"As we congratulate Tom on the occasion of his retirement," Rawson continued, "we also welcome Bob Durkee, whose talent and experience will serve us well as he assumes greater responsibilities. We trustees look forward to Bob's able support for our efforts for Princeton."

"I greatly appreciate this opportunity to serve as secretary of the University and to work even more closely with the trustees and with President Tilghman, while continuing to be actively engaged in the University's various public affairs initiatives and programs," Durkee said. "This arrangement is possible, in part, because of the exceptional skill and dedication that Ann Halliday brings to her role as associate secretary of the University, and because of the strong leadership that currently exists in the offices that will continue to report to me, including Margaret Miller as director of the Alumni Council, Lauren Robinson-Brown as director of communications, Pam Hersh as director of community and state affairs and Diane Jones as director of government affairs.

"In addition, I have asked Karen Jezierny, a longtime member of the administration currently directing the University's Policy Research Institute for the Region (PRIOR), to join our public affairs team as director of public affairs. In this capacity she will take on a broad range of responsibilities on my behalf while also serving as an additional resource to the other offices that make up the public affairs area."

Jezierny first worked for Princeton from 1986 to 1989 as director of community and state affairs. She returned in 1992 as the assistant dean for graduate career services and alumni affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Four years later, she was promoted to assistant dean for administration and, in 1999, to associate dean for administration, which gave her responsibility for all administrative functions of the school. Last January she became the director of PRIOR, a new institute in the school that focuses on regional issues. Her appointment as director of public affairs is effective Jan. 1, 2004.


Thomas H. Wright majored in the Special Program in the Humanities and received his A.B. degree from Princeton in 1962 magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After a year at Cambridge University as a Keasbey Scholar, he received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and went into private practice with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington and Burling. He then served for three years as assistant general counsel for the Ford Foundation in New York before joining the Princeton administration in 1972.

Wright's board memberships have included Sarah Lawrence College (which he chaired), Princeton University Press, McCarter Theatre, Trinity Church in New York, the American Friends of Cambridge University, the Council on Library Resources and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Robert K. Durkee majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and received his A.B. degree from Princeton in 1969 magna cum laude. As an undergraduate, he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian and an undergraduate columnist for the Princeton Alumni Weekly. After teaching fifth and sixth grades for three years in the Trenton, N.J., public schools and earning a master of arts in teaching degree from Montclair State University, he joined the Princeton administration in 1972.

Durkee's board memberships have included the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Labor Association (which he has served as acting chair), the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, McCarter Theatre and the Princeton University Store. He was the founding chair of Princeton University's Martin Luther King Day committee (a responsibility that will now be assumed by Lauren Robinson-Brown) and the founding chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the Association of American Universities. He recently was named by Tilghman to co-chair a University Task Force on Health and Well-Being.

Karen Jezierny is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in urban studies and a master's degree in city and regional planning from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. In addition to her positions at Princeton, she also has served as assistant treasurer for the state of New Jersey, on the staff of the speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, as a founding member of the state's Council on Local Mandates and as associate vice president for public affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her board memberships have included the Princeton YWCA (which she serves as vice president) , Princeton Community Housing Inc., the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce (which she serves as vice chair) and the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.


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