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Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-5732
Date: September 9, 1999

Princeton Creates Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts

PRINCETON, NJ -- Princeton University will inaugurate a Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, which will bring outstanding postdoctoral scholars to campus on three-year appointments. The new society, which will ultimately number as many as 24 postdoctoral scholars, is designed to give some of the best young scholars in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences an opportunity to enhance their teaching and research while bringing to Princeton an infusion of fresh ideas and approaches to education and scholarship.

The Princeton Society of Fellows was made possible by a lead gift from Charter Trustee Lloyd E. Cotsen and includes the Cotsen Fellows in the Humanities, named in his honor. Cotsen, a member of the Class of 1950 and a long-time supporter of humanities programs and teaching innovation at Princeton, established a library of rare children’s books at the University in 1997. Former CEO of Neutrogena Corporation, he now heads Cotsen Management Corporation of Los Angeles.

"The Society represents a profoundly important initiative for the liberal arts at Princeton," said President Harold T. Shapiro. "I am most grateful to my colleague and friend Lloyd Cotsen for his vision and generosity in helping us establish a program that, year after year, will bring new excitement and vigor to the intellectual life of the University."

Each year, the University will appoint as many as eight new postdoctoral scholars from a wide range of academic departments and specialties who will serve three-year terms as Princeton Fellows. Under the aegis of the University's Humanities Council and based in Princeton’s historic Joseph Henry House, the society also will include distinguished University faculty as senior fellows, who will choose the postdoctoral fellows in consultation with academic departments. The postdoctoral and senior fellows will meet regularly for discussion, participate in seminars and conferences, and collaborate on new teaching projects. Together, they will be a center for interdisciplinary research and scholarship on the Princeton campus.

The postdoctoral fellows, who will also have advisers in the departments of their individual disciplines, will teach a broad array of courses offered by the Humanities Council and by other academic departments at levels ranging from Freshman Seminars to advanced courses. Through these courses, the fellows will increase opportunities at the University for cross-disciplinary learning, contribute to an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity and foster a closer interchange among undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.

The Society of Fellows will be chaired by Alexander Nehamas, Princeton’s Edmund N. Carpenter II Professor in the Humanities, who also chairs the Council of the Humanities. "The Society of Fellows will add to every aspect of teaching and research throughout the University," Nehamas said, "and with the Cotsen Fellows at its core, it will be of particular importance to the humanities. It will provide us with a permanent, but constantly renewed, group of young, talented and imaginative scholars. All of us -- students, faculty and the fellows themselves -- will learn new things."

Recently, the Humanities Council appointed the first group of senior fellows in the new Princeton society. They are: Harold Foster, professor of Art and Archaeology; Anthony Grafton, Dodge Professor of History; Jennifer Hochschild, professor of Politics and Public Affairs; Simon Levin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology; Joyce Carol Oates, Roger S. Berlind Professor in the Humanities; Josiah Ober, David Magie Class of 1897 Professor of Classics; and Michael Wood, Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English.

This fall, a search will begin for seven new postdoctoral fellows to arrive in September 2000. In addition to three Cotsen Fellows in the Humanities, there will be two fellows in the social sciences and two in the natural sciences. They will join two scholars who are already at Princeton as fellows in the Council of the Humanities: David Chamberlain, a classicist, and Peter Gordon, an intellectual historian.

The gift from Lloyd Cotsen establishing the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts is part of The Anniversary Campaign for Princeton, launched in 1995 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the University’s charter. The Campaign, which now has raised more than $740 million, is seeking to raise a total of $900 million to strengthen the University's programs of teaching, scholarship and research.