June 5, 2002: President's Page
For many of you, I would guess
This year there was a steady
stream of students traversing McCosh courtyard the afternoon of Deans
Date on their way to hand in papers, their pace quickening as the 5:00
p.m. deadline approached. Since freshman year, Rakesh Satyal 02,
a Comparative Literature major, has set up a help desk in
McCosh courtyard on Deans Date. Offering staplers, paper clips,
May is also the time of year
when members of the senior class, theses bound and final papers in the
The minicourse series was the
brainchild of last years senior class president, Justin Browne 01.
The series, which begins at the end of regular classes, offers seniors
a chance to hear faculty lecture whom friends have raved about but whose
courses they were never able to take. This desire to experience great
scholars who are also dynamic teachers
This years senior class president Spencer Miller and his colleagues, including Ravi Ramachandran and Loran Gutt, put together a diverse array of offerings that extended well beyond esoteric lectures. They included A Beginners Guide to Viruses with Professor of Molecular Biology Lynn Enquist, and a chance to sit in on the filming of a program for Australian television that features Professor Peter Singer discussing human values. I had tea and cookies with a group of twelve seniors last week to talk about their Princeton experience and the future plans of the University. In addition to faculty lectures and seminars, the program includes courses that develop a seniors extracurricular talents or teach vital life skills. Minicourses on practical issues included how to read an apartment rental agreement and how to repair a car, while others covered some of the finer points of lifedance lessons, a course in massage therapy, and wine tasting.
Justin Browne hoped that the
senior minicourse program would carry over to the Class of 02. The
enthusiastic turnout last year and this years equally high interest
suggest that there is a demand for this program, and at Princeton, as
at most venerable institutions, a one-time event that is repeated successfully
for a second year becomes a tradition. But from my experience the best
reason to believe that the senior minicourse series will continue for
years to come is that it satisfies the desire to learn that seems to be
the hallmark of Princeton students. Professor of English and Comparative
Literature John Flemings minicourse this year was on what humanists
do. In an hour he suggested to the seniors some of the joys and challenges
(if not risks) of reading a text, of understanding the artifacts of human
intellection, and of understanding life from different perspectives.
Fundamentally, the discussion he had with them will help them hang on
to the central elements of their Princeton educationtheir intellectual
curiosity and the joy of learning.