President's Pages in Princeton Alumni Weekly
A New Year for Princeton
September 10, 2003
There may once have been a time when university campuses went into hibernation over the summer, but those days are long past. In fact, summers seem increasingly busy as faculty and graduate students pursue research more single-mindedly than is possible during the academic year when they are also heavily engaged in teaching; as construction crews continue to rejuvenate our buildings and grounds, while also adding exciting new spaces to meet the needs of our faculty and students; and as the campus hosts a growing array of summer programs. This summer we hosted 137 different groups, including 54 sports camps, along with academic programs for high school and college students, high school teachers and principals, college teachers and scholars, engineers and judges, and even one program for homicide detectives.
Summer is also a critical time for me to reflect on the year just ended and to begin planning for the year ahead. As I look back, I am very pleased with the exceptional new faculty we attracted to Princeton and our continued capacity to attract the very best undergraduates and graduate students. At the end of the year we received important confirmation from the U.S. Supreme Court that we can continue our efforts to enroll a class that is both academically gifted and broadly diverse.
Our Annual Giving program closed out an exceptional campaign in a difficult financial year by raising more than $34.5 million to meet Princeton’s highest priority needs. Several classes, led by the powerhouse Class of 1963, set records, as did graduate alumni. Perhaps most encouraging was that fully 59 percent of all undergraduate alumni participated, with each of the five youngest alumni classes exceeding 60 percent participation.
Looking ahead, one of our highest priorities for the coming year continues to be planning for the 11 percent increase in the size of our undergraduate classes that will begin in the fall of 2006 and for the construction of Whitman College and the development of a four-year residential college system. We also want to take a careful look this year at University policies and programs that address the health care needs and promote the health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. With strong encouragement from the trustees, I have appointed a Task Force on Health and Well-Being composed of students, faculty, and staff that will examine these issues, along with issues related to day care and family support services for members of the University community. The task force is expected to issue its report next spring.
Academically, this will be the inaugural year for the new Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS), headed by sociology professor and Latin American studies scholar Miguel Centeno. Established by the University and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the institute will support interdisciplinary research and teaching on issues of global importance and will sponsor conferences, lectures, and workshops on global issues and international trends. This fall we will dedicate the new 360-seat Berlind Theatre that gives McCarter Theatre a second stage and provides exceptional rehearsal and performance space for our Program in Theater and Dance. In the spring we will dedicate our new Andlinger Center for the Humanities which will encompass East Pyne, Chancellor Green (restored to its original use as library space), the Joseph Henry House, and a new building similar to Joseph Henry House that is currently under construction. A garden between East Pyne and Chancellor Green, facing Nassau Hall, will be dedicated this fall in memory of the 13 Princeton alumni who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Later in September there will be a new student-initiated event on Cannon Green to which all students will be invited to focus on issues related to “integrity”—both academic and personal. This event was proposed by leaders of the Honor Committee and other student leaders to encourage students early in the academic year to rededicate themselves to fundamental principles of honor and integrity. The keynote speaker will be former Senator Bill Bradley ’65.
Another program being launched this fall was first proposed by former Alumni Schools Committee chair Henry von Kohorn ’66 and other alumni looking for ways to recognize and encourage high school students who are taking initiatives to improve race relations in their schools and communities. This year alumni in Washington, D.C. and Boston will conduct an awards program for high school students in those cities, with the hope that the program can expand to additional cities in future years. Alumni interested in learning more about the program can visit its Web site.
One of Princeton’s great and enduring strengths is the extent to which faculty, students, staff, and alumni not only generate excellent new ideas, but then work tirelessly to bring them to life. As we add new members to our community this fall, I greatly look forward to all the ideas they will contribute and all the contributions they will make to what surely continues to be “the best old place of all.” Welcome to a new and exciting academic year for Princeton.