July 4, 2001
vote, Professor Bartels
to our readers
is our final issue of the publishing year. Our next issue will be
out September 12. Please refer to this website during July and August
for letters to the editor, updates on faculty research, and campus
news. Have a good summer!
letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility.
Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38,
Princeton, NJ 08542 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I applaud the appointment
of Dr. Shirley Tilghman as the 19th president of Princeton. Dr.
Tilghman is a true Tiger; she epitomizes the qualities that those
close to Princeton hold dear. She truly loves Princeton and its
diverse academic and social environment. She has already taken steps
to integrate Princeton's academic disciplines through the development
of Princeton's genomics institute. Most importantly, Dr. Tilghman
cares passionately for the students
of the university.
I first met Dr. Tilghman
as a confused sophomore in search of academic direction. At the
suggestion of President Shapiro, I approached her with an idea for
an independent major in bioethics. Dr. Tilghman quickly became interested
in my multidisciplinary proposal. On top of her responsibilities
as head of the genomics institute, a researcher, and a professor
and adviser in the molecular biology department, Dr. Tilghman agreed
to sign on to my program as both a junior-paper and senior-thesis
adviser. Together we designed the first independent concentration
in bioethics at Princeton. During my work with Dr. Tilghman, she
pushed me to engage the most important questions in bioethics from
all angles of science and the humanities. During countless exchanges
about the definitions of health and disease in the modern world
my senior year, Dr. Tilghman responded to my questions with new
questions aimed at stimulating innovative thought. Dr. Tilghman
engaged my projects with great passion and devotion; she was a true
mentor during my years at Princeton.
I know that Dr. Tilghman
will bring this same passion to the office of president. Princeton
will grow stronger both academically and socially under her leadership.
I am sure all of you will join me in looking forward to the development
and prosperity that will occur during her presidency.
Mike Hehir '99
I've just been reading
through Professor Tilghman's bio, and I'm as pleased and impressed
as I'm sure the Board of Trustees were. It is thoroughly appropriate,
as we enter the new millennium, that The Best Old Place of All should
choose a leader who is an outstanding teacher, scientist, and administrator
who happens to be a woman.
I applauded when Princeton
made the decision, unfortunately after my time, to go coed. I was
impressed with the rationale, and even more impressed with the methodology.
The decision to jump directly to having 25 percent of the undergraduates
be female was absolutely correct. I had visited friends at Cornell,
and knew about the strain which the 10-percent female undergraduate
population there placed on both the guys and the girls. It was obvious
at the time that Princeton had chosen the high road.
Now Princeton has come
full circle and closed the loop by choosing a woman to lead the
university forward. I had not expected it, but I am ineffably pleased.
Kudos to all concerned!
P. Burr Loomis '61
With its selection of
Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman as its first female president, my graduate
school alma mater once again demonstrates that it earns its motto
of "In the nation's service."
However, as one who went
to Princeton's engineering graduate school during a time which saw
the university "agonizing" in alumni magazine articles
whether to admit women officially as students while my undergraduate
alma mater - The Stevens Institute of Technology - put out a press
release that in "matter of fact" manner just stated that
the class entering in the 1969-70 era would have the Institute's
first female science and engineering students, I say "three
cheers" for Princeton as well as for Stevens, whose motto of
"To the stars through aspirations" also seems to aptly
fit this outstanding pioneer in efforts to map the human genome.
Ronald M. Eng *68
In my view, what makes
Princeton such a special place (and what accounts for its outstanding
per-capita alumni contribution figures) is its unique undergraduate
experience. To understand Princeton, I contend, requires a deep
understanding of the undergraduate experience and undergraduate
daily life. Again, and again regrettably, the trustees have chosen
a president without this undergraduate experience.
My concern is that President
Tilghman, lacking this experience, will not have the understanding
and sensitivity to campus life issues that an undergraduate alumnus
or alumna would. How am I to trust her as a custodian of Princeton's
unique undergraduate life and its issues if she has never lived
in a Princeton dorm, never been in a residential college, never
been a member of an eating club, never played in the band, never
debated in Whig-Clio, never represented Princeton in a sporting
contest, and never enjoyed those four wonderful years that tie all
alumni to Princeton so intimately? Surely an equally qualified undergraduate
alumnus or alumna for the position exists, and, to my mind, would
have made a superior choice.
Peter Moyers '00
Is every candidate for
alumni trustee barren, unmated, or simply opposed to reproduction?
Do these success-driven supermen and women even like children?
Bios of trustee candidates
shipped to us for evaluation-before-voting don't reveal whether
candidates are mothers or fathers, and the number of their children.
This information was standard in candidate bios for decades.
Trustees function as
"parents" to thousands of Princeton students by helping
shape university policies that facilitate or impede the success
of their education.
It's important to some
of us that most (not all) of the professionally proven alumni we're
asked to consider for trustee think enough about the next generation
that they also participate in creating it. Thus they will care about
kids, have firsthand experience in coaching and financing their
march to maturity, and thus can make informed decisions about how
best to underwrite and educate promising sons and daughters in the
Superfathers and supermothers
should dominate the trustee candidate roster for these reasons.
By the same token, the few of us who take the time to review candidate
bios and vote for these key delegates should be given a broader
snapshot of their priorities and achievements, including parenthood.
Rob Mack '62
Verdes Peninsula, Calif.
I could not agree more
with the letter of Terry Wintroub '69 (May 16) re: the complete
waste of the present balloting procedures but would like to add
a different reason. As a conservative I find I almost always have
the choice of a liberal, a liberal, or an ultra-liberal. Why bother?
I would like to add a
footnote to Ben Kessler's excellent article on the growth of the
Princeton campus (cover story, May 16). Kessler gives appropriate
attention to the master plans of Joseph Henry (1836), Ralph Adams
Cram (1908), and most recently Machado and Silvetti (1996). But
it may be a bit unfair or at least incomplete to characterize development
during the Victorian era as eccentric and "idiosyncratic."
Although President McCosh
and his colleagues may not have worked from a written plan, they
nevertheless appear to have been guided by a number of principles
that were as decisive in their way as the rectangular geometry of
Henry and the Beaux-Arts classicism of Cram. I would identify at
least three. First, the public buildings built in this period (Chancellor
Green Library, Alexander Hall, Dickinson Hall [destroyed by fire
in 1920], and the John C. Green School of Science [another fire,
1928]) all had their front doors facing Nassau Street. In other
words, the university's academic face paralleled and opened out
to the commercial realm on the north side of Nassau Street. Together
they created a complementary streetscape. In addition, by placing
its most prestigious academic initiatives on public view, the newly
self-confident College of New Jersey intended the world to take
The second principle
is that student life (Whig, Clio, the dormitories, Murray and Dodge
Halls) was consciously located in a residential precinct behind
the wall of academic buildings that lined Nassau Street. Princeton's
Victorian campus was not unlike a Victorian house where the formal
rooms in which the family welcomed guests faced the street, and
the family rooms were at the rear. A familiar example is Prospect
House, the design of which is formal on the north side and relaxed
on the south overlooking the garden.
Which leads to a third
principle - the importance of landscape. It is difficult to imagine
that what today is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful
campuses in America was barren right through the Civil War. It was
McCosh who hired Princeton's first landscape architect, and it was
McCosh who, with his wife, Isabella, walked the campus with cuttings
underneath his arm, always in search of a strategic vista where
nature might reveal another delight.
design principles suggest themselves, including the positioning
of buildings according to the contour of the land, rather than an
abstract plan. In this regard Witherspoon, Edwards, Dod, and Brown
Halls are not at all idiosyncratic in how they are placed.
Like an archaeological
site, the Princeton campus is a great dig. Neoclassical, Collegiate
Gothic, and modern are there to be treasured and learned from. So
is the Victorian, distinguished by what seems to be spontaneous,
mutable, and organic, but which is in fact guided by its own compelling
Raymond P. Rhinehart
I couldn't agree more
with Jack Huyler '42's letter regarding the risk that Princeton
loses some of its unique character by going for growth (June 6).
I wrote a letter in the May 17, 2000, issue critiquing the Wythes
Report decision to increase the size of the student body. I predicted
they'd use this mandate and the growing endowment to "pave
over the entire campus with new architectural monstrosities."
Now I read that they
are going to build the new residential college in place of one of
the most beautiful parts of campus: the tennis courts and the surrounding
With all the people like
Ben Kessler who believe in "well-conceived planning" or
with all the alum (and non-alum) architects on the university dole
coming up with grand plans to expand to Route 1, doesn't anyone
on the Board of Trustees ask the more basic, aesthetic questions?
What a joy it was to have dozens of tennis courts in the middle
of campus. What hell it will be to see that space and that luxury
destroyed with yet another travesty à la Butler College or
Andrew M. Keller '87
I am thrilled to see
the issue of recruited athletes back on the table, because I think
the presence of recruited athletes detracted appreciably from my
Though I avoided the
classes that all undergrads knew to be easy and therefore attractive
to elite athletes (there is a long list, and it is common knowledge),
I found that many of the athletes in my classes would show up without
having read the material and, much more seriously, unready even
to try to engage in the subject matter. I think this is simply because
elite athletes don't have the time and energy to also be elite students.
Not only must varsity athletes attend rigorous practices, but through
team bonding they are drawn into powerful social cliques that swallow
much of their off-field time and, through mechanisms too complex
to enter into here, deprecate academic pursuits.
I simply don't think
Princeton can offer both an outstanding academic and an outstanding
varsity athletic experience (if you call winning a national championship
outstanding); the two are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the best
athletic experience depends on a sense of personal and team honor,
and respect for the opponent, rather than from dreams of national
glory and a potential future as a pro. Not that I accuse Princeton's
varsity athletes of bad spirit, but our current system certainly
promotes something other than the fundamentals of sport. It must
do so, because the fundamentals of sport come easily, without high
price tags and elite training.
As an example of what
I consider a good athletic experience on campus, I offer Clockwork
Orange, the Princeton ultimate Frisbee team(s). Ultimate is a club
sport, administered completely by students themselves, and receives
very little funding other than field-space from the university,
last I heard. When I used to practice with the team, in the late
'90s, there were perhaps 30 students, men and women, who would come
out to two or three practices a week and drive long distances to
weekend tournaments. Often ultimate players would be those who hadn't
made it in other sports - I had never played any sport well - and
it was beautiful to see these people learn and teach each other
all the lessons that team sports offer. The kicker is that these
were really interesting people, who would mock each other in pregame
poetry (I remember one
particularly grand spoof of Chaucer that went on for pages and pages),
and who, when exams came around, would let their sport fall by the
wayside so that they could achieve their academic goals. None of
them had "come to Princeton to play ultimate." Princeton's
recruiting of athletes is equivalent to offering sports scholarships,
because the degree is valuable and is made affordable to all who
It is my fervent wish
for Princeton that the administration will someday find the chutzpah
to abolish recruitment. The athletics department will then be able
to focus on supporting sport as a spirit-building rather than a
George Showman '99
W. E. Schiesser *60 tells
us (Letters, May 16) that the ambitions of the athlete lie not with
her studies but her tournaments. No doubt he is an honorable teacher,
schooled in the learned arts. Not to disprove what Mr. Schiesser
spoke, but these learned arts unfortunately do not extend to matters
of grammar, syntax, and rhetoric. I should do Mr. Schiesser wrong,
though, were I merely to attack, without split infinitive, the form
of his plain blunt speech.
Surely this honorable
teacher gladly would have adjusted his schedule to tutor the athlete
of whom he wrote. Of course, from the athlete's response, it appears
that she was offered a single appointment, which she could not attend.
(Perhaps some details were omitted from Mr. Schiesser's small, half-page
column.) I assume the same fate would befall an English major who
had not "the writ, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance"
to devote all treasured time to Mr. Schiesser's engineering class.
But I certainly see the merits of the singular pursuit of the "computer
code" as I drive home each day through the diminished shadows
of Silicon Valley.
There are places for
these singular pursuits; thankfully, Princeton is not such a place.
The rich legacy of Princeton is embodied in the distribution requirements,
encouraging exposure to a variegated palette of education. Fortunately,
that education includes athletic endeavors. So, in answer to the
seemingly rhetorical question of the honorable teacher, it sounds
as if physical therapy and training for a tournament might be far
more important than the creation of some computer code, given the
options. And a true question for Mr. Schiesser: Did you even ask
the nature of the "tournament"?
R. Wardell Loveland '81
Redwood City, Calif.
vote, Professor Bartels
How interesting and revealing
it was to learn from a recent article in the news that Dr. Larry
Bartels, "a distinguished professor of political science"
at our university, boasts that since moving to New Jersey in 1991,
he "has not voted in any election, has not registered to vote,
and could not care less who is in or out in our state capitol."
Also, he goes on, he has "never worked in a political campaign,
and the last time he voted was in the 1984 presidential election."
Now, aren't those interesting views for one instructing our youth
in "political science?" Tell us, Professor, from your
sheltered academic grove, is this the position you advocate for
all of us? Or is it simply the view of American politics which should
be exclusive to those who form the minds of our educated youth?
Surely bipartisanship or nonpartisanship is a defensible stance
in the classroom, but how can one justify a complete lack of political
participation in our democracy, flawed as it may be? Perhaps you
don't care who "is in or out in our state government"
- or even in our national government, Professor, but thank God many
of us still do care certainly enough to exercise one of the most
valuable rights offered to the U.S. citizen. A right for which better
men and women than you or I have been willing to give their lives.
Princeton in the nation's service? How about Princeton on the nation's
Wilson Britten '45
For the past nine years
I have been living in Indonesia. I am the proud father of a mixed-race
baby, as well as two stepchildren who differ from me in nationality,
ethnicity, race, religion, and gender. I feel somewhat qualified
to speak about human diversity and the Third World.
I praise Princeton's
Third World Center for its promotion of cultural pluralism and mutual
respect. However, I question the accuracy of the organization's
name and the relevance of the justification offered at the TWC Web
site: "In our name we align ourselves with the struggles of
Third World peoples."
Although it is historically
accurate to lump American ethnic minorities with populations in
their ancestral countries, the divergence increases with each generation.
In many cases, people of color are socially, financially, and politically
better off today than they were in 1971. Most empathize with their
fellow Americans in worldview and I daresay that few consider themselves
to be allied with the real Third World.
Thirty years have passed
since student activists spurred the university to establish our
TWC. I'd hate to see outdated radical rhetoric enshrined as a timeless
tradition. I respectfully suggest that the Governance Board of Princeton's
Third World Center adapt to their surroundings by adopting a more
relevant name for the organization. Something along the lines of
Center for Cultural Pluralism would be more accurate.
Martin A. Schell '74
Concerned alum, late
30s, balding, nearsighted, financially dependent upon earned income,
incorrigibly Libertarian, married, father of one with second on
the way, seeks to understand the reasoning behind the solicitation
of revenue from those seeking relationships with members of the
PAW readership through "Personal" advertisements.
Ian M. Smith '85
In our May 16 issue,
we mistakenly made a bulldog a tiger: Donald Malcolm Wilson, former
deputy director of the U.S. Information Agency, is not Princeton
'51; he is Yale '48.
Also in that issue, we
neglected to include a credit for the photograph on page 14; it
was taken by Lynn Greenberg.
St. Olaf College is the
correct name of the institution where Chris Thomforde '69 is president;
it is not St. Olaf's College.
PAW regrets the errors.