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Bell and Frist focus on ways to better citizens' lives

Princeton NJ -- Two Princeton alumni who are leaders in public service shared their thoughts with the University community on improving the lives of citizens here and abroad in addresses Feb. 22 at the annual Alumni Day and Parents' Program.

Nearly 1,700 alumni, students, faculty, staff and parents of current undergraduates braved the cold, damp weather to attend the event, which featured speeches by Peter Bell, president of CARE USA, and William Frist, U.S. senator from Tennessee and Senate majority leader.

Peter Bell, president of CARE USA, was presented with the James Madison Medal, given each year to an alumnus or alumna of the Graduate School who has had a distinguished career, advanced the cause of graduate education or achieved an outstanding record of public service.

Bell, a 1964 alumnus of the Graduate School, received this year's James Madison Medal at a luncheon following his morning speech on "Where the End of Poverty Begins." Frist, a 1974 alumnus, spoke in the morning on "The Floor of the U.S. Senate as the Operating Theater: Is Transplanting Ideas Any Different From Transplanting Hearts?" and received this year's Woodrow Wilson Award.

Also honored at the luncheon in Jadwin Gym were four students who earned Princeton's highest honors. Seniors Daniel Hantman and Christopher Wendell received the University's Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, and graduate students Sarah-Jane Murray and Joshua Plotkin were recognized as co-winners of the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship (see related story).

Bell, who has served as president of the international development and relief organization since 1995, told the audience at his lecture that the need to combat global poverty is more pressing than ever. He said that both pragmatic and moral arguments demand a response to the fact that half the world population is living on $2 a day or less and 40 percent of those face the extreme poverty of $1 a day.

"People in extreme poverty live in a world severely circumscribed," Bell said in a talk that began the activities at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. "They reside in the flimsiest houses on the most precarious sites; they are hit hardest by natural disasters; and they are most exposed to infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. They are balanced every day on a razor's edge of crisis."

Illustrating his talk with moving stories of people he has met while visiting CARE operations around the world, Bell pressed the case for greater individual and government involvement in fighting poverty. Economic and social development of poor countries, he said, would enrich industrialized countries and render them more secure. Such progress also would "reduce global population growth, restrain illegal immigration and control the spread of infectious diseases."

However, the most compelling reason, he said, is a moral one. "Poverty is, first and foremost, an assault upon the dignity of a person, and each of us bears a responsibility to affirm and protect the dignity of others."


Senate Majority Leader William Frist was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award. The award is bestowed annually upon an undergraduate alumnus or alumna whose career embodies the call to duty in Wilson's famous speech, "Princeton in the Nation's Service."

Frist, who followed Bell, spoke about how his transition from surgeon to Senate majority leader -- a path forged from his dual concentration in science and public policy at Princeton -- brings a unique perspective to his new role, influencing his push for swift Medicare reform and increased AIDS research.

Since being elected to the Senate in 1994 -- becoming the first practicing physician since 1928 to serve in Congress -- Frist has seen many similarities between being a legislator and practicing medicine during his years as a renowned heart and lung transplant surgeon.

"Both are healing. Both involve patience," he said, circling the podium in Richardson Auditorium. "Both involve taking calculated risks in terms of some boldness and some courage. Both involve listening."

Since taking over from Trent Lott as Senate majority leader in January, Frist often is asked about the greatest challenge of his new role. "My answer is to compel the United States Congress to stretch our horizons ... to address what is to me a very obvious growing imbalance between the policies on the one hand and the inevitable, immutable demographic shift caused by the aging of America's population," he said.

Both speeches were Webcast live and are available in the archive at http://www.princeton.edu/webmedia. Alumni Day, which is coordinated by the Alumni Council, also included a variety of other lectures, ceremonies and programs. For more coverage, visit this Web page: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/news/alumniday



March 3, 2003
Vol. 92, No. 18
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Page one
Top seniors, graduate students earn University's highest honors
Bell and Frist focus on ways to better citizens' lives
Long-term collaboration yields cancer-fighting compound

Lilly establishes fellowship in honor of Princeton researcher
Update: Sky-mapping survey charts new data about universe
Two elected to engineering academy


Nassau Notes
•By the numbers: Snow emergency
Calendar of events

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