April 4, 2001:
File: Sculpting the arts
estate tax repeal: What it would mean for Princetons coffers
View at Princeton
administrators attend workshop on gender inequality : Eight institutions
meet to discuss possible solutions
use wristbands to curb underage drinking A study by Harvard's School
of Public Health indicates effectiveness of policy
conference discusses reproductive technology
Sculpting the arts
Visual has a special
meaning for James Seawright, director of the Program in Visual Arts
for 29 years. His sculptures are dynamic, using technology
often electronically controlled moving parts and changing
When he was growing up
in Greenwood, Mississippi, the only sculpture in town was the Confederate
monument. An article in Life magazine in 1958 about sculptors using
industrial materials for their work opened his eyes.
It touched a nerve,
says Seawright, who had spent much time tinkering and working on
mechanical hobbies. As a naval engineering officer on a ship stationed
in Norfolk, he had access to the machine shop, where he began working
After the Navy, he enrolled
in the Art Students League in New York and studied traditional sculpture
under the artist José de Creeft. By 1966, he had his first
New York one-man show at the Stable Gallery, and his work was featured
in its own Life magazine piece. Hundreds of shows have followed,
and his work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern
Art and the Guggenheim and Whitney Museums.
When he first came to Princeton to teach in 1969, the Visual Arts
faculty consisted of two other people, a potter and a painter. Now
there are 22, most short-term and part-time, which allows the widest
Enrollment in the program
is limited, and far more students apply than are accepted. A
student who wants to take ceramics has one chance in 14 of getting
in, Seawright says. In photography its one in
Seawright will step down
as director in June but continue to teach sculpture. The thing
Im most excited about is the upcoming renovation of the building
at 185 Nassau Street, he says. It will mean new studios
for students in the attic.
By Ann Waldron
estate tax repeal
What it would mean for Princetons coffers
As Congress considers
scrapping the estate tax, charitable organizations across the country
including colleges and universities are quietly wondering
whether they will experience a slump in donations as donors begin
to feel less tax pressure from the federal government.
The estate tax has come
under increasing fire from anti-tax advocates who argue that it
forces too many family businesses and farms to liquidate their assets
upon the death of the founder, even when extensive tax planning
is undertaken ahead of time. In recent years, congressional Republicans
backed by a potent coalition of pro-business and taxpayer
groups have pushed for a full repeal of what theyve
taken to calling the death tax.
With the inauguration
of George W. Bush, the odds of a repeal have increased markedly.
But congressional Democrats continue to oppose a full repeal, preferring
more modest legislation that makes it easier for active businesses
to avoid the tax. The subject of both sides rhetoric is a
tiny slice of the American population. But because these people
tend to make large charitable donations, they occupy a disproportionately
big place in the minds of university administrators.
For persons who die in
2001, the estate tax will be levied only if the deceaseds
assets exceed $675,000, a level that will rise to $1 million by
2006. (Holdings passed to a surviving spouse are tax-exempt.) According
to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington
think tank, in 1997 only about 43,000 deceased individuals
2 percent of the people who died that year paid any estate
tax at all. Moreover, the biggest 2,400 of those estates
those with assets exceeding $5 million paid nearly half of
the nations estate tax bill.
Because the estate tax
fully exempts charitable contributions, donors in the highest bracket
can save $550 in taxes for every $1,000 they give to charities
a powerful incentive to give. Moreover, many wealthy individuals
give generously to charities while theyre still alive in order
to reduce the size of their taxable estate. A U.S. Treasury study
estimated that a repeal of the estate tax, without the creation
of other tax incentives to foster charitable giving, could reduce
donations by $4 billion a year.
Those are the kind of
numbers that make development officers toss and turn at night. So
is Princeton worried? The answer, based on interviews with administrators,
is yes and no.
In our experience,
the tax code is not the prime motivator, but it certainly has an
impact on what people do, and when, says Robert Durkee 69,
the universitys vice president for public affairs. It
really does make a difference for a donor to give something to their
favorite charity instead of to the U.S. Treasury.
Hoping to make a dent
in the pro-repeal juggernaut in Washington, Durkee has been working
with several interest groups to make the universitys case
before Congress. Durkee has been working most closely with the Ad-Hoc
Tax Group, a collection of 40-odd colleges and universities that
are concerned about the repeal effort.
You try the best
you can to make sure as many members of Congress are thinking about
this and are focusing on the potential impact, Durkee says.
Its important for them to hear the other side of the
Despite such concerns,
Van Zandt Williams 65, the universitys vice president
for development, is not yet in crisis mode. Id have
to say we are not terribly concerned, Williams says. The
reason is that charitable intent is not really a tax-related issue.
People were making gifts and bequests long before there was an estate
tax, and I have very little doubt that people will continue to do
so if it ever goes away.
Williams says that a
repeal would most directly affect planned giving a strategy
by which donors set up trusts with the university while they are
still alive. Planned-giving donors typically transfer a portion
of their assets to the university. During the donors lifetime,
the university will return the investment income to the donor. But
because the assets themselves are fully held by the university,
they are exempt from estate and capital gains taxes.
While planned giving
will obviously have implications if there is an estate-tax repeal,
the setup has other features, Williams says. Theres
the satisfaction of knowing the deed is done while youre still
alive, and the convenience of knowing that your assets are being
managed in a complex investment world. Williams adds that
many donors today do not wish to leave excessively large estates
to their children, fearing it could be a disincentive to work.
While Princeton would
be in much the same boat as other colleges if a repeal passed, it
has some slight advantages, Williams says. The most important is
the high level of alumni loyalty. Compared to the national average,
Princeton alumni are somewhat more likely to leave assets to the
university in their wills.
So what should alumni
do? Williams urges doing nothing until the ink from President Bushs
signature is dry, since the devil will be in the details.
And if a full repeal does pass? The first thing to do is celebrate,
he says. The second is to call your friends in the development
office to see how much fun you can have with all this money.
By Louis Jacobson 92
Louis Jacobson covers
lobbying for the National Journal in Washington, D.C.
View at Princeton
A selection of dramatic
panoramic photographs taken from 186875 in Athens by the French
photographer Félix Bonfils are on display at Firestone Library.
Shown here, top, is a
view of a crenellated wall made from debris, probably from the Byzantine
era. Below is the Propylaia, begun in 435 B.C., which was the monumental
entrance to the Acropolis.
are part of the collection donated in 1921 by Rudolf Ernst Brünnow,
a professor of Semitic philology.
Also on display is a
14-foot-wide view of Athens that was digitally stitched
together from three different Bonfils photographs; that image is
also available at www.princeton.edu/~rbsc/bonfils/main.html.
The exhibition runs through October.
What if the street you
knew the stately old mansions, each with its own roofline,
its own lawn, its own walkway, and its own fence was changed
somehow to something new, different, yet still familiar?
but familiar street is exactly what a new student group at
Princeton, aptly titled Prospect(s), has in mind.
The group, composed of
a half-dozen art and archaeology majors, sponsored a contest, open
to anyone on campus, to reconceptualize the Street itself.
People were urged to rethink the space from Washington Road to Stevenson
Hall and submit proposals to a jury, composed of undergraduates,
administrators, professional architects, and university trustees.
Sometimes the street
needs to reconsider itself, said Steve Caputo 01, who
thought up the contest last summer. With 500 new students,
a new residential college, and the Frist Campus Center, its
a good time to think about what the Street is going to be.
In the end, Prospect(s) will publish a catalog of outstanding entries,
mount an exhibition in Frist, and, with the help of several campus
administrators and institutional centers from the Woodrow Wilson
School to the Third World Center, award $5,000 in prizes.
Its a great
opportunity for students to share their vision with the administration,
said Janet Dickerson, university vice president for student life.
Were doing a lot of talking and planning about how different
quadrants of the university will be used in the future. Dickerson
added that the university does not currently have any plans to alter
the social structure of the street.
With a high-tech Web
site, which laid out the ground rules at www.princeton.edu/~rethink,
Prospect(s) is careful not to call it an architectural contest.
Its more of an idea competition about spaces and how
spaces are used and defined, said Caputo.
By Annie Ruderman 01
administrators attend workshop on gender inequality
Eight institutions meet to discuss possible solutions
It has long been recognized
by educators and administrators alike that women are underrepresented
in the sciences, but not until the 1999 publication of a report
on the status of women faculty at M.I.T. has much attention been
paid to the underlying gender biases beneath the numbers. Its
a very subtle form of inequity that accumulates over time,
explained Professor of Electrical Engineering Ruby Lee.
In February, Lee accompanied
President Shapiro, Dean of the Faculty Joseph Taylor, Professor
of Psychology Joan Girgus, and Professor of Molecular Biology Shirley
Tilghman to M.I.T., where they attended a workshop on the state
of women in science and engineering. The workshop, organized by
M.I.T.s president, Charles M. Vest, and sponsored by the Ford
Foundation, brought together faculty members and top administrators
from seven other major universities: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, the
University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, the University
of California, and the California Institute of Technology.
During an eight-hour
period of brainstorming and deliberation, the participants reflected
on four major questions concerning gender inequalities: What
are the successful or unsuccessful strategies [our universities]
have pursued? What are the systematic causes of the
problems we face? What new actions could each institution
take? and What might we do collectively? In the
end, the group issued a 184-word statement outlining three major
goals to be pursued by each institution.
Unanimously, they pledged
to establish (1) equity in numbers, creating a faculty whose
diversity reflects that of the students we educate; (2) equity
in opportunity, guaranteeing full participation by women faculty;
and (3) equity in treatment, fostering an environment in which
individuals with family responsibilities are not disadvantaged.
Overall, it was
an interesting, stimulating, successful meeting, said Lee.
A lot was accomplished.
To measure progress,
the workshop participants decided to reconvene in a year, at which
time they will share the specific steps theyve taken as well
as any overall advances theyve made. Joseph Taylor, dean of
Princetons faculty, feels that Princeton is starting out the
process on a good footing. Previous internal reviews of tenure appointments
have shown no gender biases, though Taylor does admit that low numbers
are a major concern. Additionally, the Princeton review committee
will investigate whether gender biases exist in everything from
how leadership positions are filled to how first-author citations
While the workshop fostered
a sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future, it also brought to
light the difficulties in detecting and eliminating gender biases.
As Lee said, We know that it will take time for 250-year-old
institutions to change their practices.
By Andrew Shtulman 01
use wristbands to curb underage drinking
A study by Harvards School of Public Health
indicates effectiveness of policy
As part of the 1999 Reunions,
the Alumni Council introduced a universal wristband security system
to better monitor access to Reunions headquarters and thus access
to alcoholic beverages. Two years later, the eating clubs are following
suit with a similar policy. Colored wristbands, rather than hand
stamps, will now be used at the Street to distinguish legal drinkers
from those under 21.
The move to adopt an
inter-club wristband policy comes less than a month after bicker
and initiations-related activities sent 11 students to the hospital
for severe intoxication and alcohol-related injuries. In the wake
of these hospitalizations and subsequent investigations by the Princeton
Borough Police, the eating clubs looked to find better ways of regulating
alcohol distribution and consumption. The idea to use wristbands
came as a suggestion from Inter-Club Council (ICC) adviser Alice
Teti 00, who had read about the effectiveness of such a policy
in a recent study by the Harvard University School of Public Health.
It is hoped that wristbands
will prove more efficient than hand stamps, because wristbands are
highly visible and not easily forged, and also because they can
be standardized from club to club. Indeed, every club on the Street
will use the same color wristband on a given night. As ICC president
Dan Winn 01 explained, All clubs are behind this. Its
a step in the right direction.
Though the weekend of
March 810 was supposed to be a trial run of the new policy,
the wristbands had not yet arrived, leaving clubs to resort to hand
By Andrew Shtulman 01
conference discusses reproductive technology
Each year the Student
Bioethics Forum hosts a spring conference to discuss a particular
matter of bioethical importance. This springs conference on
The Ethics and Politics of Reproductive Technology took
place February 23 and 24, covering such issues as surrogate parenting,
egg and sperm donation, in-vitro fertilization, and the controversies
Valerie Gutmann 01,
copresident of the Bioethics Forum, said the conference theme was
picked for its pressing impact both academically and commercially.
Were trying to push the envelope here so as to get students
thinking about this important issue, she said. Our goal
was to increase both awareness and discussion.
To accomplish this task,
the Bioethics Forum invited a number of distinguished guests to
serve as panelists, including Art Caplan, director of the Center
for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania; Ruth Mackelin,
senior consultant to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission;
and Harriet S. Rabb, chief general counsel for the Department of
Health and Human Services not to mention Princetons
own molecular biology professor Lee Silver and bioethics professor
Peter Singer. Panelists participated in a total of five discussions,
all of which were free and open to the public.
keynote lecture, entitled Selling Your Body: Egg Donation
on College Campuses and Surrogacy, was delivered by Professor
Mackelin. In her address, she discussed the current state of egg
donations from biological, economic, and political viewpoints. Drawing
on a number of ethical arguments, she concluded that although no
one in particular is likely to be harmed by egg donations, the
commodification of gametes promotes the idea that everything in
our society is for sale; one just has to name the price.
were later given the chance to discuss Mackelins ideas in
special breakout sessions, open only to the 150 official student
registrants the majority of whom were selected from outside
Founded in 1995, the
Princeton Bioethics Forum is both the oldest student-led bioethics
forum in the country and the only undergraduate organization to
publish a bioethics journal.
By Andrew Shtulman 01
For more information
on the Bioethics Forum, visit the groups Web site at http://www.princeton.edu/~bioethic.
In response to issues raised by the campus activist group Workers
Rights Organizing Committee (WROC), the university has proposed
two steps with regard to its low-wage workers. Beginning immediately,
the status of all casual workers will be assessed, and a number
of them will be converted to regular employee status and receive
full benefits; and a thorough re-examination by the Priorities Committee
of the wage levels for two categories of workers will begin. The
complete statement by Richard Spies *72, vice president for finance
and administration, is available online at www.princeton.edu/pr/reports
David Tannenbaum 01,
a philosophy major from Great Neck, New York, won the David M. Sachs
Class of 1960 scholarship. The award provides tuition and expenses
for two years while he studies economic and social history at Oxford
University. Tannenbaum, one of the founders of WROC, has been involved
in numerous areas on campus, including an anti-sweatshop campaign,
the Princeton Progressive Review, the Daily Princetonian, the Honor
Code Committee, and the universitys high school debate and
At least two Princetonians
had films in the Oscar race. One Day Crossing, written by Christina
Lazaridi 92, was nominated in the category Short Film
Live Action. In the category for Documentary Feature, Into
the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport was nominated;
the films associate producer is Alicia Dwyer 92.
On February 8, Ann Elizabeth Mayer, an assistant professor of legal
studies at Penns Wharton School, gave a lecture called Transcending
the Local: A Global Framework for Assessing Muslim Womens
Michael McCurry 76,
CEO of Grassroots.com and former White House press
secretary, spoke on February 21 on All News, All the Time:
Reflections on Americas Political Information System.
Bill Rentschler 49,
editor and writer, delivered a talk called The Loss of Freedom
Yours and Mine on March 1.
Derek Bok, chairman of
Common Cause and former president of Harvard, gave a lecture titled
Setting New Jerseys Campaign Reform Agenda in 2001
on March 8.
On March 8, Claude Steele, chair of the psychology department at
Stanford, delivered a talk, How Stereotypes Can Shape Intellectual
Performance and Identity.
Recent conferences on
campus included one on Cold War intelligence sponsored by the CIA,
in which policymakers, intelligence officials, and scholars examined
newly declassified information related to the agencys analysis
of the Soviet Union.