May 16, 2001: President's Page

I devoted a recent President's page to an overview of major initiatives begun in the past 13 years to sustain and foster excellence in teaching. In this issue, I would like to focus on some of the academic initiatives begun during my presidency and describe steps we have taken to help ensure that Princeton remains at the forefront of scholarship and research.

The changing campus landscape is a physical manifestation of the changing intellectual landscape, and even a partial list of new buildings suggests new directions for scholarship and research. Bowen Hall opened in 1989 as the home for the then-new Princeton Materials Institute; the Marx Hall addition to 1879 Hall was created in 1990 for the University Center for Human Values; this fall the new Program in Finance moved into the renovated Dial Lodge. The building at 83 Prospect Street is being converted into headquarters for the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. The recently completed Wallace Hall helps accommodate new research programs in the Woodrow Wilson School, including the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Child Wellbeing, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and The Program in Law and Pubic Affairs. The addition of the Friend Center and its classroom and library spaces will help free up space in the Engineering Quadrangle that can be reallocated to new research endeavors such as the program in photonics and optoelectronic materials (POEM).

Construction of the Lewis-Seigler Center for Integrative Genomics will allow us to conduct pioneering research on the recently mapped human genome. The center takes advantage of faculty strengths across academic departments, including molecular biology, chemistry and physics, and in this respect, genomics is an excellent example of the growing importance of interdisciplinary study to the academic enterprise. Through the –Princeton Atelier Program, launched in 1994, faculty and students have opportunities to collaborate with world-renowned professional artists on projects that often bring together different sectors of the arts writers and composers, for example. New academic programs that foster cross-discipline research include the Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior which, while housed in the Department of Psychology, draws on expertise and advances in mathematics, physics, chemistry and molecular biology. The split of the Department of Civil Engineering into the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering suggests alliances across disciplines that have gained defining importance. Another example of a department where interdisciplinary study has contributed to a name change is the Department of Geosciences. The faculty proposed substituting geosciences for and geophysical sciences because of deepening connections to the natural sciences and engineering, and the expanded range and breadth of their research programs.

A renovated facility or a new name alone cannot generate the momentum necessary to begin a new endeavor or reinvigorate an older discipline; that depends on the initiative and commitment of Princeton's faculty. In this sense, our ability to continue to Advance the frontiers of knowledge depends on our ability to attract and retain world-class scholar-teachers. We know that two of the major attractions for faculty are the quality of a university's graduate school and the presence oAf gifted post-doctoral fellows. The enhancements to our financial aid program for graduate students that the Trustees approved this year will help ensure the outstanding quality of our Graduate School. In the past decade we have created post-doctoral programs in the Council on Science and Technology And the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts to help guarantee a yearly infusion of new perspectives.

Finally, let me mention two very different joint ventures, both at the institutional level, that we believe will make lasting Contributions to the scholarly enterprise. The first is Princeton s participation in JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which uses new technology to convert important scholarly journals, some of which date to the 19th century, to a fully searchable electronic database available on the Web. The project ensures that the information in these journals is preserved and dramatically improves access to valuable scholarly resources. For libraries here and at universities around the world it will ease storage problems and reduce operating costs.

The second example is an agreement we just entered into with Oxford University to facilitate collaborative research partnerships and establish a significant exchange of students, including undergraduates. As intellectual horizons expand, it is becoming increasingly difficult for one institution to cover all important aspects of a subject, and the equipment, books or other resources necessary to support work in a subject have also become increasingly costly. Moreover, research and learning increasingly are global endeavors, involving collaboration among faculty members and students from around the world. The collaboration will create important new opportunities by drawing on the complementary strengths and perspectives of faculty and students at two of the world's leading universities.

For me, one of the most pleasurable ways of staying informed about new academic initiatives is reading books written by Princeton faculty. I urge you to look for new books by Princeton authors in areas of interest to you, or, if you have the time, to take advantage of alumni colleges and online courses offered by our faculty. I can guarantee that each year you will learn about new landmarks in the intellectual landscape.