Kean and Myhrvold to be honored with alumni awards
Princeton NJ -- Two Princeton graduates -- Sept. 11 commission chair Thomas Kean and technical and business strategist Nathan Myhrvold -- have been selected as the 2005 recipients of the University's top honors for alumni.
Kean, who also is president of Drew University and previously served as governor of New Jersey, has been chosen for the Woodrow Wilson Award. Myhrvold, who is co-founder and chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures in Seattle and retired in 2000 as chief technology officer at Microsoft, will be awarded the James Madison Medal.
They will receive their awards and deliver addresses on campus during Alumni Day activities on Saturday, Feb. 26.
The Wilson 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.'' Also a Princeton graduate, Wilson served as president of the University and as president of the United States.
The Madison Medal is named for the fourth president of the United States and the person many consider Princeton's first graduate student. Established by the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, it is 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.
On Alumni Day, Myhrvold will present a lecture at 9:15 a.m. and Kean will speak at 10:30 a.m. in Richardson Auditorium of Alexander Hall.
Wilson Award winner
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, incidents, President Bush selected Kean to lead the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. ''Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment,'' Bush said when he made the appointment in December 2002.
Kean, who earned his A.B. in history from Princeton in 1957, has a long history of leadership in the public service arena. From 1968 to 1977, he was a member of the New Jersey Assembly, rising to the positions of majority leader, minority leader and speaker. As governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990, he served on the President's Education Policy Advisory Committee and as chair of the Education Commission of the States and the National Governor's Association Task Force on Teaching. He was highly regarded for his efforts to reach out broadly to people of all backgrounds, a topic he discussed in his 1988 book ''The Politics of Inclusion.''
He became president of Drew University in 1990, and since then also has served on several national committees and commissions. Kean headed the American delegation to the United Nations Conference on Youth in Thailand, was vice chair of the American delegation to the World Conference on Women in Beijing and served as a member of the President's Initiative on Race. He is chair of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and former chair of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
''Tom Kean has embodied the ideal of 'Princeton in the Nation's Service' at every level of his career and in every form of service,'' wrote a Princeton alumna in nominating him for the Wilson Award.
He completed his most recent assignment, leading the 10-member task force that issued its final report on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, this past summer. ''His honesty, empathy and commitment to responsible and responsive government have set the tone for that body's important work,'' the alumna wrote. ''He has labored to bring affected parties together, to make sure the historic record of that tragic day and the events leading up to it is complete and accurate, and to make sure that the families of 9/11 victims, many of whom live in New Jersey, are given the hearing, the courtesy and the respect they deserve.''
Myhrvold is renowned for his visionary thinking as well as his success in linking research to product development and commercialization. He earned his master's and doctoral degrees in applied mathematics from Princeton in 1981 and 1983, respectively, then was a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University. He worked with Professor Stephen Hawking on research in cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space time and quantum theories of gravitation.
After one year, Myhrvold returned to the United States to co-found a company, Dynamical Systems, that produced a software product on which he had worked as a graduate student. That product, a precursor to the Windows operating system, attracted the interest of Bill Gates and the company was acquired by Microsoft in 1986.
During his 14-year tenure at Microsoft, Myhrvold held various positions and was responsible for founding Microsoft Research and numerous technology groups that resulted in many of the company's most successful products. ''At a time when other corporations and even government agencies were scaling back basic research, Nathan had the vision and ability to convince some of the greatest business leaders of our time that an investment in basic science is indeed a wise investment,'' wrote an alumna in support of his nomination.
Myhrvold holds 14 patents and has numerous patents pending. With his latest undertaking, Intellectual Ventures, he is focused on a variety of business interests relating to the funding, creation and commercialization of inventions. In 2000, he partnered with Paul Allen and pledged $1 million to the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute to fund the development phase of the world's most powerful telescope -- the Allen Telescope Array.
Myhrvold has served as a member of the advisory board for Princeton's Department of Physics and as a trustee at the Institute for Advanced Study. He also has served on several other educational, charitable and civic boards, including the Children's Scholarship Fund, through which his donations have provided many scholarships for low-income families. In addition, he has contributed numerous articles to scientific journals and general interest publications. ''In a word, I would describe Nathan as a visionary,'' wrote another alumnus. ''Fortunately, he shares his vision generously in a number of arenas. We are richer for it.''