April 10, 2002: Notebook
Photo: Jacqueline I. Stone (by Ricardo Barros)
For Japanese Buddhists living in the medieval period, the moment of death was considered crucial. If a dying person focused on the Buddha called Amida, chanted his name, and kept all other thoughts out of his mind, he would make it to the Western Pure Land, the ideal realm that Amida oversaw where you would no longer be reborn into evil realms and were assured enlightenment.
But if you had an errant thought at the moment of death, even just an image of a beautiful plum tree in your garden, then you risked rebirth as a snake or in some demonic realm. Theres a very strongly rooted notion that the last thought is what carries over and exerts a determining influence on your next rebirth, says Jacqueline I. Stone, an associate professor of religion who is studying deathbed practices in Japanese Buddhism. This spring she is teaching an undergraduate seminar on death and the afterlife in Buddhist cultures.
The rituals she is studying developed in the late 10th century, when a group of monks near the city known today as Kyoto first put into practice instructions outlined by a monk named Genshin.
Stone has read manuals that instruct the dying person to create a solemn and dignified atmosphere with few distractions. Some traditions advised facing a Buddha image, tying a five-colored cord to the statue, and holding the other end by which to be drawn up into the Pure Land.
Japanese Buddhists, says Stone, who earned her Ph.D. in East Asian languages and cultures at UCLA, focused on a very important part of life that we just dont talk about much in our own society. Death, says Stone, was more in your face.
For C. S. Lewis, experience was that most brutal of teachers, but for graduate students with plans of sharing their knowledge with eager college kids, experience is an invaluable asset.
Providing that experience has been one of the main goals at Princetons two-year-old Harold McGraw, Jr., Center for Teaching and Learning, where graduate students and current faculty can get help, feedback, and find resources to improve their teaching and classroom-management skills, which include learning how to develop course curricula and lectures, working around an academic calendar, and dealing with students.
In my day we just started in teaching as we started in swimming, a leap into the cold water and you hoped everything would work, said history professor Anthony Grafton, who has been involved with several center activities. Its clearly much better to have the possibility of reflecting on what you do, getting yourself filmed, and being able to observe yourself. I think that expectations for graduate students are very high, and that the center will help them both to get jobs and to flourish as teachers.
McGraw Center Dean Georgia Nugent 73, who took over the centers efforts last fall, sees the need for graduate students to receive professional development. Most graduate students at Princeton finish in an average of five years, but dont get a lot of classroom time. Nugent said many graduate students requested more opportunities to teach, and the center has responded.
Among the new programs is Scholars in Schools, which lets graduate students develop units on topics in their fields and offer them in area high schools. More than 200 schools received the informational packets outlining the units recently, and several have already responded, Nugent said.
Another program in the development stages is something Nugent likes to call Prof 101, which will expose graduate students to topics such as understanding college and university governance, tenure systems, and current student demographics. The seminar will be offered to graduate students who are about to leave the university and start their first teaching jobs.
We want to deal with things that are important in your first year of teaching but werent necessarily covered in the classroom, said Nugent. If we do this well, it will be a major contribution well be making here.
The center already provides graduate students with the opportunity to learn from professors and undergraduates about what is expected at Princeton through programs such as the Assistance in Instruction seminars that are offered at the beginning of each semester.
Its essential for some who have no clue what to do, said Adrian Banner, a fifth-year graduate student in math who has led several of the AI seminars at the center while teaching freshman and summer calculus. Things are only obvious when someones told you about them.
Nugent and the staff at the center Associate Director Linda Hodges and Assistant Director Patricia Armstrong, both of whom have extensive educational backgrounds also set up seminars and lunches to give graduate students the chance to expose themselves to other areas of their field. The three have also persuaded nearly 100 of Princetons faculty to participate in programs at the center this year. For example, when Nugent was organizing a panel on applying for grants, she turned to three of Princetons top grant winners to speak to the students.
The centers Master Lecture class also brings in Princeton professors to join graduate students in reviewing their performance and delivery during micro-lectures that are videotaped for review.
Biology professor James Gould participated in last falls Master Lecture series and said graduate students were able to learn from their own and others mistakes ruthlessly captured on videotape. The students also could get over the first-time nervousness of lecturing, though that never goes away, said Gould. It would be great to find a way to scale it up and to encourage grad students and faculty to participate despite the many other demands on their time.
Alan Mann, who taught at Penn for 32 years and joined Princetons anthropology department full-time this fall after teaching here part-time since 1986, is also a big fan of the centers efforts.
Teaching is an acquired skill, a craft. My colleagues can communicate some of the things they picked up painfully along the years, said Mann. When you become an effective teacher the rewards are enormous, and that makes you want to try harder to be effective.
Harold P. Furth, professor, emeritus, of astrophysical sciences, a pioneer in the U.S. fusion program, the originator of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) project, and former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), died February 21 in Philadelphia of heart failure. He was 72.
During the 1960s, Furth and others developed a critically important theoretical description of instabilities arising due to resistance in a plasma. Later, he and two others described a method for using energized ion beams to heat a plasma in such a way as to enhance fusion reactions. This breakthrough was critical to the design of TFTR and enabled the production of world-record levels of fusion power and the study of the fusion power reactions. Furth also was instrumental in research on the physics of ignited, or self-sustained, plasmas.
In the early 1970s, Furth conceived the TFTR project, the most advanced and highest performance fusion device ever constructed in the U.S. Furth served as director of PPPL from 1981 to 1990, during which time TFTR was launched. The machine operated for 14 years, producing world recordsetting and major scientific results before closing down in 1997.
A native of Vienna, Furth came to the U.S. in 1941. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard in 1960 and worked on controlled magnetic fusion research at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in California prior to joining PPPL in 1967 and being appointed professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton. He coheaded the experimental division at the laboratory from 1967 to 1978, when he was appointed associate director and head of the research department at PPPL. He became program director in 1980 and director of the laboratory in 1981.
He held more than 20 patents and served on committees and panels for a number of organizations, including the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, NASA, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Dimitri Porphyrios *80 (Porphyrios Associates)
Dimitri Porphyrios *80, a classicist architect and theorist based in London, is performing a feasibility study on Whitman College, the new residential college scheduled to break ground in 2004. The study will be presented at the trustees April 12 meeting.
Jon Hlafter 61 *63, director of physical planning, said that Porphyrios is investigating whether the site south of Dillon Gym is suitable for the collegiate-gothic structure that is currently envisioned.
We believe we can build it on this site, said Hlafter, adding that if the trustees are satisfied with the study they will recommend that Porphyrios Associates be commissioned as design architect for the project. Porphyrios has a reputation for the sympathetic treatment of historic buildings and has designed collegiate-gothic buildings at Oxford University.
Whitman College, named for university trustee Meg Whitman 77, president and chief executive officer of eBay, Inc., who donated $30 million, is expected to provide dormitory, dining, social, cultural, educational and recreational space for about 500 students. The total cost of the construction is an estimated $100 million.
Economics Professor Uwe Reinhardts essay about the state of health
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To address the acute need for graduate-student housing, the university is scheduled to break ground this fall on the first part of a two-phase project that will add about 200 apartments. The first phase consists of the construction of two five-story buildings north of the Lawrence Apartments, which are located off Alexander Road. The new buildings are slated to be open in the fall of 2003. The second phase of the project a six-story building and four three-story buildings is expected to open sometime in 2004.
In the same area, the Springdale Golf Club plans to move its clubhouse from its current location on College Road.
Talk of the new housing began last year, when it became clear that much of the local housing market was unaffordable for graduate students. The original plans, calling for several three-story, wood-frame houses, were rejected by the universitys Board of Trustees, who wanted better quality buildings.
Graduate students support the trustees decision for better planning and greater input from students. About 80 percent of Princeton grad students live on campus, which is a much higher proportion than at most universities.
Undergraduate population growth is carefully planned, and the amount of attention going into the design of the sixth undergraduate residential college has been tremendous compared with the discussion of graduate housing, said Eric Adelizzi, a fourth-year graduate student in chemical engineering who sits on the graduate schools long-term housing committee.
Photo: Jidan Koon GS, left, and Mahdi Al-Adel GS demonstrate outside Frist on March 12. (beverly schaefer)
As violence escalated in the Middle East this spring, so did political activism on campus. The Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) held two rallies in early March to protest the inhumane treatment of Palestinians by the Israelis. According to Sharon Weiner, a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson School and an organizer of these rallies, the purpose of the rallies, which drew about 40 people each, was to bring campus attention to Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
In order for the violence to stop, Weiner said, the Palestinians need to be treated with the same justice, respect, and self-determination that the citizens of Israel want for themselves.
Another goal of the rallies, according to Weiner, was to bring awareness to the lack of U.S. neutrality in this process. She claimed that by giving money to Israel, the U.S. enables the Israelis to perpetrate violence against the Palestinians.
The U.S. is complicit in this, she said.
By Melissa Harvis Renny 03
Photo: A statue of James Stewart 32 greets visitors to his museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania. (louis jacobson 92)
Seven decades after James Stewart 32 graduated from Princeton, several artifacts from his days as a Tiger are going home at least for a little while.
The Jimmy Stewart Museum a seven-year-old facility located in the actors hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania will soon unveil several items on temporary loan from Princeton. These include the megaphone Stewart used as a cheerleader and a jacket and orange cowboy hat he wore at reunions.
The loaned artifacts will supplement two other Princeton-related items in the museums permanent collection: Stewarts diploma (for a degree in architecture) and the Woodrow Wilson Award, which he received from Princeton in 1990.
Elizabeth Salome, the museums executive director, says that the special exhibit serves to recognize the significance of Princeton on Stewarts future career in acting.
Stewart was born in Indiana, a small town of 15,000 located 55 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in 1908, into a respected, churchgoing family that owned a hardware shop downtown. Though Stewart was especially close to his father, Alex Stewart 1898, his father never really got it out of his system that Jimmy didnt come back to take over the hardware store, Salome says.
The museum hosts 10,000 visitors during a typical year. The biggest event of the year comes around Stewarts birthday in May the Harvey Award dinner, named after the invisible rabbit befriended by Stewarts character in Harvey.
By Louis Jacobson 92
Louis Jacobson 92 is a staff correspondent at National Journal magazine in Washington.
You can reach the museum at 1-800-83-JIMMY
For an assignment in Contemporary American Prose, Brian Muegge 05 was asked to write an opinion paper that would argue for a change in a policy or attitude. He chose alcohol-free housing on campus, a topic that was on his mind after seeing the results of overconsumption of alcohol in his residential college.
Over winter break, he did his research and writing. After turning in his paper, An Alternative to Alcohol Abuse: Housing Reform in the Residential Colleges, he mailed the proposal to the five college masters, President Tilghman, Vice President Janet Dickerson, and other administrators. His proposal creating substance-free entryways and dorms would provide a much-desired option for undergraduates, freshmen in particular.
I got kind e-mails from Tilghman, Dickerson, and Wilson College Master Miguel Centeno saying they would consider it, said Muegge. Right now, Im working with Vice President Dickerson and others to gather more data from Princeton students and other colleges with similar initiatives.
Muegge, who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, doesnt drink. There is no sophisticated reason for this, it just doesnt appeal to me, he said.
Living with binge drinkers can be hazardous. Our hallway has dealt with a lot of secondary binge effects vomit, urine, and defecation, discharged fire extinguishers, noise and physical commotion in the halls, damage to personal property, etc., said Muegge. What really struck me when these things happened is that one individual making poor decisions negatively affected all 19 people in the hall. As I talked to other students, I realized that this was happening all around campus.
When I told friends at other colleges about my situation, they seemed surprised. Most of their dorms are alcohol-free, and they dont see nearly as many secondary problems from bingeing. Even my friends who drink say that they wouldnt want parties and alcohol abuse in their building. Their comments made me wonder why Princeton doesnt have similar options.
For a letter on this topic, click here.
Jed Marsh, former associate dean of the Graduate School at Northwestern University, became Princetons associate provost last month.
He is responsible for special projects and institutional research, said Provost Amy Gutmann. Jed brings with him impressive administrative and analytical skills, including the development of surveys and student enrollment and retention models, Gutmann said.
At Northwestern, Marsh developed surveys tracking doctoral student placement and graduate student satisfaction. The student enrollment and retention models he devised are now used in the schools financial aid planning. He also developed and implemented a multi-departmental visit program that has effectively recruited high-quality applicants. In addition, he supervised the renovation of the Graduate School facilities on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.
Between 1995 and 1998, Marsh was assistant chair and lecturer in Northwesterns Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, from which he earned his Ph.D. in 1991. He holds bachelors and masters degrees from the State University College of New York, Plattsburgh.
Marsh also has served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Diane Balestri, former assistant dean of the college, died of a brain tumor March 5. She was 58. Balestri came to Princeton in 1985 as assistant dean of the college. Her responsibilities included continuing education, implementation of the Princeton Writing Program, and service on university disciplinary committees. In 1992 she became manager of instructional and media services, where she managed resources for new media, interactive computer graphics, and faculty courseware development projects. She left Princeton in 1997. She is survived by her husband, Charles 63, and two sons, Leo 93 and Carlo 96.
Students searching for jobs in the nonprofit sector were presented with a variety of options last month at a career fair, Careers in the Public Good. The fair, sponsored by Career Services, came at the end of a week devoted to students interested in jobs in the arts, sciences, sports, and public service, areas often dwarfed by the lucrative investment banking and consulting businesses. The nonprofit fair offered jobs ranging from the New York Police Department to the Peace Corps, but it attracted only about 150 people, fewer than had been expected.
John McPhee 53, Princetons Ferris Professor of Journalism, can be heard April 23 in the PBS television special Americas First River. McPhee provides the voice of Washington Irving and will read excerpts from Irvings work. Irving is one of my all-time favorite writers, says McPhee, as fresh and topical today as he was in 1819. He is so sharp and funny, and the rhythms of his writing go across time. The two-hour program tells the story of the beginnings of Americas environmental awakening, which took place in the Hudson River Valley. Hosted by Bill Moyers, Americas First River was directed and coproduced by Monica Lange s76.