February 21, 2001: Notebook

Faculty File: Rats on Prozac

Board of Trustees enhance educational initiatives and increase financial aid: New no-loan policy is the first in the Ivy League

In Memoriam

Students rally for workers: Administration reviews concerns

Faculty Opinion: Fair pay, fair play

In Brief

New prez, new profs

Faculty File: Rats on Prozac

Photography: Denise Applewhite

As long as he can remember, neuroscientist Barry Jacobs has wondered "why people do what they do." His approach to the problem has been "to find out what goes on
in the brain."

Consequently, he has devoted his professional life to studying neurotransmitters – the
chemicals that enable brain cells, or neurons, to communicate with one another.
Acknowledging that science always "advances in very small steps," he is nonetheless excited by his most recent step, a possible explanation for why the neurochemical serotonin affects depression.

After some initial experiments conducted with fellow psychology professor Elizabeth Gould, whose research has demonstrated that new neurons continue to be generated even in adult animals, "a light went on," he says. Jacobs then administered Prozac – an antidepressant drug that increases the amount of serotonin in the brain – to rats; he observed a 70 percent increase in neurogenesis.

"We know very little about the neuro- biology of depression," he says. "But maybe one of the reasons Prozac and other drugs that increase brain serotonin help lift depression is that they promote cell growth; and, reciprocally, maybe
one of the things that precipitates depression is stress-induced inhibition of neurogenesis."

Whether or not this turns out to be true in humans, "it raises some intriguing possibilities."

Jacobs urges his undergraduate students to be similarly "inquisitive about the mechanisms underlying human behavior." They get the chance in his course, The Brain: A User's Guide, an introduction to neuroscience. And the rats on Prozac will surely be featured in Jacobs's proposed new course, to be offered in the fall, Depression: From Neuron to Clinic.

By Caroline Moseley

Return to Notebook Main Menu

Board of Trustees enhance educational initiatives and increase financial aid
New no-loan policy is the first in the Ivy League

It its January 27 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved an increase in endowment income spending, changes in the university's financial aid program, and a 3 percent tuition and fees increase for the next academic year.

The increase in endowment income spending adds about $57 million to the university's operating budget, which for next year is nearly $760 million. "This additional spending, made possible by Princeton's successful campaign, its Annual Giving program, its excellent investment performance, and the strong financial markets in recent years, allows us to strengthen Princeton's leadership in several important areas," said President Shapiro in a statement.
By allowing more money to be allocated from the endowment to the operating budget, above an automatic 5 percent increase, the trustees were able to put in place several educational initiatives and make the university more accessible to low- and particularly middle-income students. On a mundane financial level, the extra money increases the spending rate, which in recent years had fallen between 3 and 3.5 percent. The target percentage has been between 4 and 5 percent. Now, the spending rate will be 4.1 percent.

The university's spending rule states that spending from the endowment will increase 5 percent each year. That figure, called endowment spending, is then divided by the value of the endowment, and that percentage is the spending rate. The recent drop in the spending rate occurred because the endowment's growth exceeded expectations, thus throwing off the percentage. (For a longer, more detailed explanation of the spending rate and the spending rule, please go to our Web site: www. princeton.edu/~paw.)

Financial aid

The university has approved major improvements to its financial aid policies, the biggest of which is that students will no longer be required to take out loans to pay for their education. Instead, the university will provide additional support in the form of grants, which do not have to be repaid. Two years ago, the university instituted this policy for its low-income students, but now the policy will apply to all students on financial aid, and will also apply to current juniors who were excluded from the policy because of timing. Currently, 40 percent of students are on aid. Details of the financial aid changes and an "Early Estimator" tool can be found online at www.princeton.edu/pr/aid.

Two years ago, when Princeton made major changes in its financial aid policies, other universities followed. It is too early to see if this new change will also be adopted, but several of the other Ivy League schools said they would review Princeton's new policy.
Discussions about increasing the amount of aid Princeton offers its students began last spring, said Shapiro. According to Robert Durkee '69, vice president for public affairs, the trustees adopted the measure unanimously and with enthusiasm.

Graduate programs

More money will flow to the Graduate School, which will now provide all first-year doctoral students in the sciences and engineering with full tuition and a stipend. Previously two-thirds of the first-year students relied on research grants. The fellowships will allow graduate students to take a year to determine which laboratory they want to work for and, if necessary, to improve their English and their teaching skills.

Also increased was the summer stipend program, which will now provide support for all doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences. Also approved was a substantial budget increase for graduate student stipends, particularly for those receiving univer-sity-supported fellowships and for assistants in instruction.
Fast-tracked were plans to build additional graduate student housing, a major concern recently as the local housing market tightened and became out-of-reach for most graduate students. Improvements in medical coverage for graduate students were also approved.

Tuition and fees increase

This year's tuition and fees increase of 3 percent, the lowest increase in 34 years, brings next year's tuition to $26,160 (an increase of 2.87 percent), room $3,596 (an increase of 5 percent), and board $3,857 (an increase of 2 percent). The average increase nationally, which was reported last fall, was 5 percent.

"For the last decade, we have been deeply committed to reducing the rate of increase in tuition and fees in an attempt to align those increases more closely with the rate of growth in the median family income," Shapiro said. "This effort, combined with our sweeping improvements in financial aid, makes a Princeton education truly affordable to all students."

Modest increases in the cost of tuition may be difficult to keep each year. "It is, financially, extremely difficult to continue to reduce tuition growth, one of our primary sources of income, below the rate of growth of salaries, our primary expense item," stated a report issued by the Priorities Committee, which recommends fiscal and progammatic priorities to the president and the Board of Trustees.

Educational initiatives

The Board of Trustees also approved funding the new writing program (PAW, February 7) and funding to strengthen advising and staffing in the residential colleges, support the expanded use of technology in teaching through the new Educational Technologies Center (ETC), and improve teaching labs in the natural sciences and engineering.

Other initiatives

The following recommendations made by the Priorities Committee were also approved by the trustees:
• Significantly improve the salary pools for faculty and staff;
• Add positions to the teaching budget to expand third-semester language courses in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and provide one-semester merit-based sabbatical leaves for senior lecturers;
• Provide grants for graduate student recruitment efforts to departments that do not have adequate budgets for that purpose;
• Support a variety of ongoing and new activities in the Graduate School and expand services available to graduate students through the Office of Career Services;
• Strengthen the Office of Career Services;
•  Support new and existing programs in the Office of Vice President for Campus Life;
• Improve the maintenance of existing and newly renovated buildings and fund the cleaning of dormitories one day during the weekend;
•  Expand the dormitory assistant program, a pilot program in Scully and Patton dormitories under which upperclass students aid in building management.

Irreversible changes

Because the educational initiatives and the financial aid changes are irreversible, the only flexibility in the budget is in the campus-renovation area.
"Should things go bad," Shapiro said, "we will respond thoughtfully on the renovation side." Even if the markets fall 20 percent, which he said was highly unlikely, the budget can still accommodate the new initiatives with the campus improvements being slowed.

Other financial aid changes

• Required annual contributions from student savings will be reduced from 35 percent to 5 percent. This no longer penalizes families in which parents save in the names of their children.

• Contributions from students' summer savings will be reduced. Students in families with incomes up to $46,500 will receive an $800 cut. Students in families with incomes of $46,500 to $66,500 will have a $500 cut.

• For aid students in families that earn less than $66,500 per year, the university will increase the
student's grant to cover the Student Health Plan, $370 per student in 2001–02.

• Renters will receive an allowance against their savings equal to the value of the average family home, about $140,000 in the 2001–02 academic year. This change was made to equalize the treatment of renters in the aid formula, since home equity is not considered part of family assets.

• International students will be admitted on a need-blind basis, just as U.S. and Canadian students already are.

By L.O.


Return to Notebook Main Menu

In Memoriam

Manfred Halpern, professor of politics, emeritus, died January 14 at his home in Princeton. He was 76. Born in Germany, Halpern and his family left the country in 1937 because of the rise of the Nazis, and moved to the U.S. He began college at UCLA but interrupted his studies to serve in the 28th Infantry Division during World War II, seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge and other battles. Following Germany's surrender, he served in counterintelligence, tracking down former Nazis throughout Germany, and also served as an instructor in the Counterintelligence Corps.

After his military service, Halpern earned his bachelor's degree in literature from UCLA, and his master's and doctorate from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He came to Princeton as a visiting associate professor in 1958. He joined the politics department the next year and remained until he retired in 1994. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses on the Middle East and modernization theory. Twice, his classes were selected in student rankings of the university's top undergraduate courses.

In 1962, Halpern wrote what has become a classic study in its field, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa, which has been reprinted six times.

Return to Notebook Main Menu

Students rally for workers
Administration reviews concerns

Photography: Frank Jacobs III

On January 11 the Workers Rights Organizing Committee (WROC) held a rally in McCosh 46 calling attention to issues that affect the lowest-paid workers at Princeton. More than 200 people (including undergraduates, graduate students, janitors, food-service workers, and library assistants) attended the hall for the 45-minute event.
WROC came together last fall after the publication of an article in the Prince Magazine in which the writer, David Tannenbaum '01, detailed some of the university's practices in employment of low-wage workers.

According to a WROC statement, the six main issues are: wages, performance reviews, outsourcing, benefits, shift changes and pay differentials, and treatment of casual workers, who, said Nicholas Guyatt GS, one of WROC's organizers, are paid only $7.25 an hour -- some even after three years of employment -- and receive no benefits. The statement, which can be found on the committee's Web site at www.princeton.edu/~speac, asserts that though the endowment has quadrupled in the last 13 years, the wages paid to the lowest-paid workers during the last 10 years have not kept up with the cost of living.

The university does not outsource work on the main campus, but it does use an outside cleaning company to service some of its buildings on Alexander Road and at the Forrestal complex.

Stopping the spread of outsourcing is important, said Guyatt, adding that he hoped that by calling attention to the presence of the outsourcing company, which pays low wages and offers no benefits, people would be outraged enough to head off the use of outsourcing on the main campus.

Administrators have met with the students, and the group presented materials to the Board of Trustees on January 27.

Richard Spies *72, vice president for finance and administration, said that he would be discussing the situation with the executive committee of the board on February 23, after he met with the students again.

About the concerns, Spies said, "We were a little surprised in a sense that while things are not perfect, it is reasonably good here," he said. "I admire the students for taking up such an important issue."

About 500 people fall into the low-wage category, many of whom belong to various unions, which work under negotiated contracts with the university.

By L.O.

Return to Notebook Main Menu

Faculty Opinion: Fair pay, fair play

It was with a sense of shock that I read in the Prince Magazine last November that while the university's wealth has quadrupled in the last 13 years, the wages paid to the lowest-paid members of the university community have fallen relative to the cost of living, and are now below the wages paid for similar work in local government. Moreover, the university has started outsourcing to contractors, which means that people working at Princeton will be paid even less than Princeton's lowest-paid employees, and will receive no benefits.

A great university forms an ethical community. The university could not function without members of its staff, at all levels, and they too are part of the Princeton community. If they are treated as interchangeable cogs, to be bought at the lowest possible price and let go whenever cheaper cogs can be found, they cannot feel themselves to be part of the university community. The result will be a community that is limited to students, faculty, and the higher-paid staff, relying on the work of a separate caste of outsiders -- people who cannot feel themselves part of the Princeton community -- because the university does not show them its concern for their well-being by sharing, even to the smallest degree, its wealth with them.

Not everything that students learn at Princeton is taught in the classrooms. Some of it is learned by observation. If Princeton students see people working at Princeton being paid the lowest possible wage, and given few or no benefits, they will learn that, even in situations of great abundance, there is one rule for the fortunate and privileged members of the community, and another for those at the bottom of the pile. Hence, there are sound educational reasons why Princeton should spend just a little more of its staggering wealth on its lowest-paid workers. This would be an excellent use of money given to Princeton with the intention of improving the education of its undergraduates.

The good news is that some students have been concerned enough about this situation to form a committee to campaign for a fair wage and benefits for all workers. That is a reassuring indication of the ethical commitment of the current generation of students.

By Peter Singer, Ira W. Decamp professor of bioethics

Return to Notebook Main Menu

In Brief

It isn't often that a Princeton graduate student has his apartment searched and his computer and papers confiscated by Russian counterintelligence police. Joshua Handler, a doctoral student in the Woodrow Wilson school, has been researching arms control negotiations between the U.S. and Russia for several years. In October 1999, when Handler was in Moscow examining open documents, police swarmed into his apartment and accused him of being involved in another espionage case pending in Russia. On advice of the U.S. embassy, Handler left Russia and has no immediate plans to return. Because he was prevented from finishing his work in Russia, Handler has had to recast his thesis, but expects to finish it this year. President Shapiro wrote a letter to the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which had invited Handler to study, defending Handler and questioning what the Russians' actions might mean for future scholarship. Handler maintains an active Web site and includes a chronicle of events and the full text of Shapiro's letter: www.princeton.edu/~jhandler/.

Cheng Liao, a graduate student finishing his Ph.D. in the computer science department, died January 2 in his apartment from complications related to a flu-like illness. Liao had earned his master's degree from the university in 1997. He had earned his bachelor of science degree at Tsinghua University in China, where he was the top-ranked computer science student.

Viewers of the January 14 New York Giants' playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings got to see Jason Garrett '89 make his first appearance for the team, taking over the quarterback duties from starter Kerry Collins when it was clear the Giants had sealed the victory, 41–0. Fox broadcaster Pat Summerall noted that team owner Wellington Mara believes Garrett to be one of his best acquisitions ever, due to Garrett's intelligence and the help he has given Collins. Garrett and the Giants went to the Super Bowl on January 28, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

Daniel Cheely '03 was arrested January 20 in a local liquor store for attempting to purchase a bottle of vodka and two bottles of brandy using a false driver's license.

Photography: Courtesy Princeton University Rare Books Collection

During intersession, a film crew came to campus to film a documentary about the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald '17. Some of the locations used included McCosh 50, Pyne Hall, and Cottage Club. The producer of the documentary, Dewitt L. Sage, Jr., also produced the 1973 Academy Award-winning documentary Princeton: A Search for Answers. (Picture: F. Scott Fitzgerald, left, with friends in freshman dinks in 1913.)

Another film scheduled to be shot in part on campus is based on the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Nobel laureate in economics. The movie, called A Beautiful Mind, is based on a 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar and will be directed by Ron Howard.

Princeton Borough Council has directed its committee on public safety to review the possibility of adopting an ordinance granting power to the police to enforce underage-drinking laws on private property. The ordinance was considered last year and put aside, but there is a renewed interest in the ordinance after police expressed concern about several alcohol-related incidents at the eating clubs on Prospect Avenue.

Return to Notebook Main Menu

New prez, new profs

For 16 months during the early years of the Clinton administration, Woodrow Wilson School professor Frank Von Hippel worked with the White House, advising the president on arms control and nuclear disarmament. But he doubts he will be invited back in the near future.

Von Hippel is not alone among Princeton professors who consider themselves liberals. With the White House hosting its first Republican administration in eight years, some policy-minded professors who have worked with the government in the past are coming to grips with their newfound status as intellectual outsiders in the Bush bureaucracy.

For his part, Von Hippel wonders whether his informal role in Washington will be diminished, if not eliminated. "They will be less interested in hearing from me than the current crew," he said.

One specific problem for Von Hippel is the missile defense system that Bush supports. With the new administration "gung-ho" about the proposal, making progress on matters related to disarmament is going to become increasingly difficult, Von Hippel predicted.

With Washington less receptive to his views, Von Hippel said he will be spending more time taking his opinions to the public. As chair of the Federation of American Scientists, a nongovernmental arms control agency, Von Hippel said he will be "going to the public and trying to re-educate the administration through them."

Not all liberals feel their influence on public policy is fading quite so quickly. Professor of public and international affairs Stanley Katz believes the Republican takeover in Washington will not affect his work immediately. "In my particular part of the world, change is much slower," he said. Still, Katz thinks his influence will
eventually shrink.

And some feel their roles in the government will remain unchanged.

"The government routinely reaches out to many Americans for advice," said politics professor Jeffrey Herbst, who often advises on U.S. policy in Africa.
Conservative professors are standing in the opposite position. Professor of politics Robert George said he had limited influence in Washington the past eight years.

"Certainly not in the administration, but in Congress," he said. But now he may be able to take a position similar to the one he held during the earlier Bush administration when he advised on civil rights. "There are people who are more sympathetic to my way of thinking," he said.

By Michael Jenkins '03.
This story was adapted from one that originally appeared in the Daily Princetonian.

Return to Notebook Main Menu