Serving on the Selection Committee
Harry Lord ’60, letter of March 8, 2006
Dear Phil, Phil, Dick, John, and Clif,
As Phil knows, I will not be able to join you at your Officers' meeting and at the '60/'61 Dinner in New York Monday night.
I applaud your further considering having the Class of 1960 fully endow the Sachs Scholarship. What could be more fitting in light of our Class’ significant financial commitment to it at our 25th Reunion and Parker Harrell’s wise decision in 1987 to provide for a check-off for the Scholarship on the Class dues notice? As you know, the Scholars have already pledged $200,000 towards our overall $1,000,000 goal.
I thought that it would be helpful for you to have from me a summary of a typical Sachs Scholarship selection year: I picked this one, 2005-06 - the most recent in the 37-year life of this most prestigious Scholarship.
I leave to the very capable David Loevner '76, Susan McMurry Archer '92, and Charles Gillispie (Hon.) '60 the from-the-heart task of providing at your meetings, last October 5 (I was on the phone for that one) and coming up in a few days, whatever additional background on the Scholarship and its funding and future that you would like to hear further about.
This is my tenth year as the Class liaison to the Scholars and the program - Rich McGlynn asked that I become involved on behalf of our Class. In the Scholarship's first 27 years there had been no Mister Interlocutor for the Class. So, many of us interested in the program felt a bit in the dark.
I have done my level-best not to tamper with or inject myself unduly into a sophisticated and collegial process that has long sustained itself so impressively. This is a tribute to the former Scholars who have managed the program skillfully and effectively over these many years - and, of course, to Charles. For me this has been a most fascinating and enriching decade, involving as does anything of value lots of hard work and tough choices.
This year we had a banner crop of 52 applicants from the senior class. Mind you, there is an enormous amount of self-screening here, and the University is very much involved in counseling and steering students seeking, or in some cases simply day-dreaming about, the most highly competitive Scholarship and Fellowship award opportunities out there.
As you know, the era of three or four Rhodes Scholarship awards each year to graduating Princetonians ended long ago. More Rhodes by far are now awarded to graduates of the U.S. Military and Naval Academies than anywhere else. Now on average, every other year one Princeton senior is awarded a Rhodes. This year, for example, 32 were awarded to students at 22 colleges and universities across the country - one at Princeton, none interestingly at Harvard, M.I.T., or Columbia. The fact that Yalies just won three shows just how bizarre the Rhodes has become. The recent history of Marshall Scholarship awards is similar - this year, 45 awards at 35 schools, 2 fortunately at Princeton. So, in part for this reason, competition for the Sachs Scholarship simply could not be keener.
Candidly, not to say jingoistically, we do a better job than do the Rhodes and the Marshall people: more focused, more probing, more consistent.
In the first two weeks of November the screening group (David, two other "younger" former Scholars, Professor Gillispie - Dan's undergraduate mentor, Bill Sachs '66 - Dan's estimable brother, and I) pored over and through the five-inch-thick stack of submitted materials. Then we met in mid-November for the better part of five hours at the Nassau Club, and selected the 12 to be interviewed: an hour apiece, Friday evening and all day Saturday the first weekend in December. The interviewing group included all of the screeners, except for Charles who believes quite incorrectly that his involvement would be intrusive, as well as two additional former Scholars, for a total of seven. The interviews were all conducted in West College.
To give you a glimpse into the extraordinary level of talent of these aspirants, I noted in the press in the past two weeks that two students whom we did not include in the dozen we interviewed were awarded a Gates Scholarship and a Reach Out '56 Fellowship. And two students whom we did interview were among the total of five Gates Scholars honored from Princeton this year. A prerequisite of the Gates award, as you may know, is admission to a particular program of choice at Cambridge University.
The 12 interviewed were as always a diverse bunch: philosophers, a religious and ethical scholar, a constitutional interpreter, an astrophysicist, a mediaevalist, a physicist, a classicist, and some more mainstream economics and WWS majors. The C.V.'s, transcripts, letters of recommendations from faculty and distinguished persons far and wide, and levels of accomplishment across the board of these young men and women are simply astounding.
The decision-making that Saturday night three months ago at David and Cathy's house in Princeton took another five hours, as it always does. Because our '05 Scholar Kyle Jaros, whom I trust you met in NYC a year ago or at our 45th's Sunday breakfast, chose to pursue his field of scholarship in Hang Zhou and in Nanjing, many of us had hoped that the most-qualified applicant this year would choose, as most do, to study at Worcester College, Oxford, the Sachs "center" since well before the Scholarship's first award in 1970 - and its spiritual home.
We selected the stunning Dan-el Padilla Peralta '06 as this year's Sachs Scholar. Dan-el is a brilliant Classics major, who will receive as well of all things a Certificate in the Woodrow Wilson School. I believe that he is now busy writing two theses. Ask him about that at the Dinner on Monday. I do know that he won Freshman First Honor Prize and a string of other glitters, including best Junior-year independent work in the WWS, and that he added German as a language last summer at Middlebury. His personal story is almost beyond our comprehension.
Dan-el will study at Oxford for two years for a second B.A. in Literae Humaniores, or "Greats." Look for Dan-el to be President of say Stanford one day. After all, Anne-Marie Slaughter '80 and Elena Kagan '81, two of Dan-el's predecessors, are the Deans of the Woodrow Wilson School, now celebrating its 75th year, and of the Harvard Law School. I would say that anything is possible.
A picture being worth a thousand words, I am about to stop this narrative.
So that is the process, and these are just a couple of the amazing students/human beings who come forward each year to seek our Scholarship. The Class of 1960 has every reason to take great pride in what it set into motion the better part of 40 years ago, shortly after Dan's shocking death - and has husbanded and perpetuated ever since.
Let me know if you would like to know anything further from me. Better yet, you will have two experts at your meeting and at least two more former Scholars plus Dan-el, Bill Sachs and his wife Iliana, and perhaps Dan's widow Joan at the Dinner following it.
Ask any of them anything: they like nothing better than talking about all of this - for reasons I think that are self-evident. It is, after all, an infectious subject.
I hope that your meeting goes swimmingly. And thank you for inviting me once again.
My very best regards to all of you. Clif, please tell Carolyn that I was delighted to have a chance to chat with you and her on McCosh Walk Alumni Day. And Phil D., in light of our forced march up Mt. Princeton in CO ten years ago, you would have loved our long and demanding Kawa Karpo trek in Tibet last June.
All the very best,
HENRY R. LORD ‘60
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