April 18, 2001: Letters

Tiger treasure

School for scholars

Notables to notice

PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542 (paw@princeton.edu).

Tiger treasure

I am delighted that the endowment has grown so Princeton can lead the way in providing an education to more students from lower income families. Access to Princeton should be based on merit, not income (cover story, March 7).

I was surprised, however, that the tone of the article seemed to suggest that Princeton's investment record for the decade of the '90s was spectacular, achieving a 17.1 percent annual compound return. On an absolute basis, this is indeed a wonderful result, and one that I guess will not be achieved in this decade. That said, I looked up the results of the Standard & Poor's 500 stock average over the period January 1, 1990, to December 31, 1999, and according to Bloomberg, this unmanaged index had a compound annual rate of 17.98 percent.

While this difference may not seem great, it is surprising how large it becomes over a ten-year period. Using the example in the article of how a $100,000 investment in Princeton's endowment would have grown to $485,600, the same investment in the S&P 500 would have grown to $522,497. More important, the differential on a billion dollars of endowment invested for the decade in the S&P 500 versus Princeton's results would have been a staggering $368,970,000.

Thirty-five years in the investment world have taught me this is not an easy business, and Princo's directors are to be congratulated for being in the top 10 percent of endowment performance. But let's not get too puffed up about our results!

James M. Clark, Jr. '60

New York, N.Y.


Congratulations to the people who made our endowment grow from $4 to $8 billion in the last five years! But does it make sense that, in the same five years, the fees for tuition et al. increased each and every year by an amount greater than the rate of inflation (and as I understand it, have increased at a greater rate than that of inflation for the last 20 to 30 years)?

As I figure it, with 5,000 undergraduates, it would only take $50 million to roll back the tuition fees by $10,000. Why doesn't Princeton use the money

to keep education affordable as well as high in quality?

J. Kenneth Looloian '43

Mountainside, N.J.


I give up. You win. Never again. This is it - my last letter to the editor about how laughable your occasional analysis of the endowment has become. Actually, analysis is the wrong word. Your article is more like the output of a spin machine.

For example, you refer to the performance of the fund as on "jet fuel" because it returned 35.5 percent last year versus 7.2 percent for the S&P 500. You go on to say that the fund earned 17.1 percent for the decade but omit that the S&P returned 18.21 percent for the same period! Why would you leave that out? Could it be that the truth - the whole truth - would put a dent in fundraising?

Moreover, given the types of investments that the fund is making - private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital (you actually call attention to these with bold caps) - the return of the fund should be substantially higher than the S&P or else why else go through the exercise described by Scully as "Taking money off the table . . . now, not tomorrow."

But in this last attempt to help you with future articles I will quote myself writing on the same subject five years ago.

"What is needed is a table. It would have a column for each year and a row for each portfolio and index. Then, any reader can make up his own mind about how well, or maybe not so well, he is doing. Now, all we get is a graph showing how Princeton beat Harvard and Yale, demonstrating only that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

Lee W. Minton, Jr. '67

Sparta, N.J.


While it is gratifying to know that alumni contributions, wise investing, and a robust stock market have combined to create an "overflowing endowment," I was surprised to hear that there are many among the staff who feel that the pay scale and benefits are significantly below the amounts typically provided for similar work elsewhere.

While it may seem noble to try to hold down costs in order to keep students' tuition, room, and board fees to reasonable levels, it is much harder to justify such cost-saving measures when the endowment is "overflowing." It invites people to wonder whether part of the reason that the university coffers are so full is because it has been Scrooge-like in its approach to the staff. Is the cat fat because he's eaten up most of the food of the mice?

Jay Tyson '76

Mercerville, N.J.


Editor's note: The university administration announced March 7 that it was reviewing its policy with regard to its low-wage workers. (See our item in the April 4 issue.)

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School for Scholars

As a former graduate student, I was interested in the article by Maria LoBiondo about the Graduate College (cover story, January 24).

I had not been aware of the contro-versy between President Wilson and Dean West.

I was in residence at the Graduate College during the academic year 1954-55. It was the last year, more or less, of the old order. I liked it, but there were already those who did not care for the formality, the academic gowns, the rituals, the ceremony. One professor was overheard to say that for the price of a gargoyle he could support a graduate student for a whole semester. The barbarians were at the gates.

As far as relations between graduate students and undergraduate students were concerned, there weren't any. There were senior graduate students who acted as teaching assistants, but their relationship with undergraduates was that of faculty member to student, not as fellow students or fellow Princetonians. I do not think it is fair to say that graduate students somehow felt left out or felt inferior. The Graduate College was a separate institution, and most of us were very happy to be members of that institution.

The ethos of the Graduate College was very different from that of the undergraduate college. Princeton, by which I mean the undergraduate campus, still had much of F. Scott Fitzgerald '17 about it. That is not to say that some undergraduate students did not take their studies seriously, but the idea of the "gentleman's C" was still very much alive. It did not do to be seen as trying too hard. The undergraduate campus was not exactly anti-intellectual, but it was not exactly pro-intellectual either. Great emphasis was placed on conformity. There were strict, if unwritten, dress codes and codes of behavior.

The Graduate College was very different. It was, of course, actively pro-intellectual. One of my fondest memories of that time is the conversation at dinner - elegant wit in various languages, both living and dead. In addition to our studies, which occupied most of our time, we had our own social life and our own sports. The Graduate College was very much a complete and self-contained world, or so it seemed to me. I do not think anyone cared, or even thought about, the fact that it was not part of the undergraduate world.

Stefan Schreier *56

Spokane, Wash.


I enjoyed your article on graduate students trying to fit into an obsessively undergraduate campus, but was a little disappointed not to see the D-bar (drinking hole in the basement of the grad quad) mentioned. I was introduced to the D-bar through another '99er, Masato Ikeda, and we would occasionally go there on the few nights we took out from our pointlessly rigorous mechanical engineering studies. The D-bar was notable for its good beer at discounted prices and cheap snacks. It was an extremely relaxed atmosphere, and we generally felt welcome. I was infuriated, therefore, to hear at some point in 1999 that undergraduates would no longer be allowed at the D-bar at all. I am all for a heightened intermingling of grads and undergrads (though I'm not sure what graduate students will gain from it), and the best place for this to happen is in a relaxed recreational setting like the D-bar. The eating clubs, in contrast, tend to be full of tight undergrad cliques who do not so easily welcome outsiders.

George Showman '99

Montreal, Canada


Reading about the graduate concerns was like "déjà vu all over again," some 50 years removed.

I arrived with my wife, Helene, in August 1951 from the University of Alberta, to try for a Ph.D. in chemistry. The Butler Tract was filled with veterans from WWII, so we had to seek housing elsewhere. Our first room was with a family on Ewing Street and later with another family on Princeton-Hightstown Road. My assistantship paid $1,200 from which $700 was deducted for tuition. Health care? Dental care? Never heard of them.

Helene is a nurse and worked at the Princeton Hospital for $120 per month, meals included. We had to buy an ancient Buick so that we could get from our quarters to work - thank goodness insurance was not required!

And the Castle on the Hill - after about a year or so I heard of it but never during my three years was I so much as invited to share a meal, let alone to be immersed in a Princeton experience. I did have many rewarding experiences with undergraduates in my laboratory classes.

We had our first child in 1952 and got a discount from the hospital because Helene worked up to her final day, and walked down the hall to deliver. A kind obstetrician also gave a discount. Helene continued on the night shift while our daughter and I burned the midnight oil.

I had two wonderfully humane professors, N. Howell Furman and Clarke Bricker, who did much to ease our way through the tough years. They obtained the LeRoy Wiley McKay fellowship for my support in 1953-54, and my family finally made it into the Butler Tract. I graduated in June 1954 and left shortly for industry. An offer to stay on as instructor and then a possible career in academe was regretfully rejected. Industry - nuclear submarine reactors - offered a fortune, $7,200 per year.

My sojourn was a record in time - about two years and 10 months. The intellectual experience was outstanding and the broad-based education has served me well.

G. William Goward *54

Clinton, Conn.


The article "The Other Side of the Golf Course" prompted us to get out our old copy of the 1942 edition of Princeton Campus Songs. One song's words seem prophetic in regard to Scott Craver's T-shirt cartoon of the "grad-a-pult":

The Goon School is across the links,

We watch it as we sip our drinks;

We often sit and wonder why

The grads don't fly up in the sky.

Jane and George King '42

Mentor, Ohio


Once and for all, when are graduate students going to learn to celebrate their special place in the Princeton community? Though I will admit that my gregarious personality made it easy for me to meet undergraduates, I cherished my place apart from the community in which they lived. I always remembered that I was there doing a Ph.D. I was there because the university, and the department of music, saw fit to keep me there. I took pride in the fact that money did not buy my position in the academic community. If this sounds unsympathetic to the woes of graduate students, as well as a bit pompous, please forgive me, but the whining must end! This deep sense of inadequacy on the part of graduate students is an expression of their inability to devote themselves wholly to their respective disciplines.

Peter Robles *94

New York, N.Y.


I read with interest Ann Waldron's "Hopping off the Tenure Track." When I completed my Ph.D. in mathematical statistics at Princeton in 1980, I immediately surveyed graduate institutions and performed a formal decision analysis to determine which academic position to pursue. Somewhere into my sixth year of teaching, I was drawn into the midst of a public health outbreak on the university's campus - I happened to have the entire women's basketball team in my class at the time, and all were ill. Located in a state capital, I found myself involved with a dedicated and intelligent group of public health professionals, interested in protecting the health of the community. I was fascinated by the application of my academic interests and training to this urgent problem.

Now, 20 years post Ph.D., I find myself with a second career in public health. Public health is a population- based discipline founded on science that uses knowledge through skillful applications directed at the prevention of unnecessary disease, disability, and death, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. A fundamental public health activity is the scientific measurement of health status. Statistical methods provide the basis for establishing objectives for health promotion and for disease and injury prevention, setting priorities for allocation of health care resources, and determining the impact of specific interventions. I am involved in these activities at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

My training at Princeton's graduate school gave me the skills to work with other public health professionals on polio, influenza, homicide, firearm-related injuries, maternal and child health issues, and multiple outbreaks in communities - all consequential applications of the skills in my field. In fact, my first statistical analysis in public health was subpoenaed for a legal investigation! I've had opportunities to work with communities in China, Spain, Central America, and Europe. My publications now result from real-world applied health problems, and my review skills are used to evaluate evidence for community preventive services. My current emphasis is on establishing a formal outreach for CDC to students and teachers, using the sciences of statistics and epidemiology as tools for teaching the scientific method (see our Web site www.cdc.gov/excite).

My goals now are quite different from what we graduate students contemplated at Princeton in the midst of our qualifying exams and dissertation preparation. However, the training that I received and the contacts that I continue to make are directly related to my time at Princeton. Please let your readership know that this field of scientific inquiry is an absolutely fantastic career outside academia!

Donna F. Stroup *80

Atlanta, Ga.


Maria LoBiondo's article on graduate student life confuses two separate issues. The real one is the "step-child" status of the Graduate School and its students. This is largely a function of Princeton's nearly 3:1 undergraduate-to-graduate student ratio and lack of conventional (and often powerful) professional schools to buttress the Graduate School. But two successive graduate alumni in the

president's office, the Frist Campus Center, and the Graduate School's Centennial and its $100-million campaign have done much to ameliorate the problem.

The article's second concern - the lack of graduate interaction with undergraduates - is a non-issue. Graduate students are separated from undergrads by age, experience, often marital status and nationality, definitely by career goals and professionalism, and desire. They have already experienced college life and have chosen to move beyond it to advanced, no-nonsense training for academic or research careers. If they want to interact with undergrads, it's not as social chums but as older mentors and role models of the intellectual life - as apprentice professors, research directors, or assistant administrators. And when they seek recreation from the hard grind of graduate study, they understandably gravitate to graduate peers.

Ms. LoBiondo suggests that the location of the Graduate College on the golf course underlies both "problems." While Wilson was undoubtedly right about the need for intellectual "coordination" in his own day, the distance of the Graduate College has since shrunk as the campus expanded and new streets and roads were built. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of the graduate alumni who answered a questionnaire I devised (to inform a chapter in a book on the history of the Graduate School) think that neither the physical nor emotional distance was a problem; indeed, most regard it as an asset that allowed them to create a distinctive identity separate from the undergraduates.

James Axtell

Williamsburg, Va.

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Notables to notice

It is very kind of you to award me a Princeton graduate degree by including me in your list of "Notable Alumni" and I would accept with pleasure, except for the fact that it might appear ungrateful. Harvard was kind enough to award me a medal for being a notable alumnus of their graduate school, and it isn't fair to "double-dip." I'm afraid they have got it right, at least as far as the alumnus bit goes. I hope you will let us in on the secret of who was the 101st, with an extra spot now available?

Philip Anderson

Hopewell, N.J.


I was rather overwhelmed but very proud to find my name and picture on the list of 100 notable graduate alumni of Princeton.

But I was especially happy to see the recognition for my friend Lloyd Axworthy *72 - a great person, a great mind, and a great foreign minister. He deserves all the recognition possible for his work. He and so many other Princeton graduate alumni (David Dodge *72, Bill Thorsell *72, George Fallis *75, and many others) have built Canada in my generation and contributed to the world in ways the Princeton experience inspired and supported.

Lorna Marsden *72

Toronto, Canada


I noticed some omissions from your list of notable alumni of the Graduate School. Under the category of academics, researchers, and inventors, you might have included three of the most influential philosophers of the last half-century: John Rawls '43 *50 and Robert Nozick *63 of Harvard and Jerry Fodor *60, formerly of M.I.T., and currently at Rutgers.

Samuel G. Wong *84

Victoria, Canada


It's gratifying to be considered one of the Graduate School's Notable 100!

I want to suggest another name: Dr Eugene M. Shoemaker *60. He was one of the fundamentally important earth scientists in the 20th century and a great figure in NASA and the history of space exploration.

Gene was the first to show that giant buried meteoritic impact craters exist in places all over the earth - his work led straight to the Alvarez theory that an impact 65 million years ago killed the dinosaurs. Later, his discovery (with wife Carolyn and colleague David Levy) of Comet Shoemaker-Levy, which hit Jupiter spectacularly in 1995, made him famous and demonstrated in a vivid way the extreme power of planetary impacts. Gene was also principal investigator for lunar geology during the NASA Apollo Moon missions, and was also principal investigator of some of the unmanned NASA missions to the Moon. His ashes were scattered on the Moon by a NASA spacecraft (he's the only person buried on the Moon), and NASA recently named its asteroid spacecraft mission the NEAR Shoemaker mission, in honor of him.

Richard Preston *83

Hopewell, N.J.


I have a Princeton Ph.D. and served as president of Oberlin College from 1970-74. Like John Toll, I was a student of John A. Wheeler. I believe there's one other student of Wheeler's who became a college or university president, but I'm not sure. Could it be Ken Ford *53?

Robert W. Fuller *61

Berkeley, Calif.


My name was omitted as one of the alumni who is a college or university president. Since 1990 I have served as president of Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York.

Ricardo R. Fernandez *70

Bronx, N.Y.


Dr. Jack W. Peltason *47 has had a brilliant career as a university president. First as chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1967-77); president of the American Council on Education (1977-84); chancellor of the University of California Irvine (1984-92); and president of the Univer-sity of California system (1992-95).

As a graduate student he was a Procter fellow, and he is also a Madison Medalist. Peltason has coauthored the most widely used college text on American government. He is the author of a volume on the Constitution.

Bill Dowey *48

Malibu, Calif.


How could you leave Alfred F. Hurley *61 off your list of presidents of colleges and universities? He has been an outstanding president of the University of North Texas for some 15 years and has done a remarkable job of raising the stature of the institution from that of a small regional college to that of a large, first-class university. Furthermore, three of his children are alumni of Princeton who have made their own significant marks in the world.

Eugene F. Corrigan '47

Sacramento, Calif.


I suggest you include Anderson Todd '43 *49, who, following in the path of noted architect Jean Labatut, has done more for the profession of architecture than any Princetonian through his years of teaching at Rice University. Through his rare gifts as a teacher he has turned out more qualified professionals than all other graduates in the field combined.

Denis Beatty '42 *49

San Francisco, Calif.


I found most interesting the list of 100 notable alumni of the Graduate School. Where else would you find a famous member of the corporate world whose surname is a perfect acronym for his career? I refer, of course, to Lee Iacocca (I Am Chairman Of Chrysler Corporation of America).

Rem Myers '37

Southbury, Conn.

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