March 26, 2003: Notebook
Photo: Office of Cummunications
Elias Stein, the Albert Baldwin Dod Professor of Mathematics, sees teaching as something that strengthens his own work. When you teach a subject, you begin to understand all sorts of things you didnt understand before. You raise all sorts of questions, and students inspire your research because all sorts of problems arise. The two things reinforce each other.
Stein has earned awards for both his teaching and his research, including the Presidents Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2001. The National Science Foundation, in giving Stein its National Medal of Science last year, called him the worlds leading authority on harmonic analysis.
Harmonic analysis, Steins area of research, involves a set of mathematical techniques used to explain physical phenomena, such as light and heat diffusion. He has pioneered the development of these tools to tackle problems in many areas of abstract mathematics, such as partial differential equations, complex variables, and probability theory.
On leave this semester, Stein is finishing a four-part series of undergraduate textbooks he has been developing with help from Rami Shakarchi *02.
Steins influence goes beyond his research. He has taught and mentored some of the worlds leading mathematicians, including Charles Fefferman *69, who also teaches in Princetons math department.
Before Stein tells you his solution, Fefferman says, the problems involved look utterly hopeless. Then, with exactly the right point of view and exactly the right few words, one sees incredible insights that link everything together and make obvious things that would have appeared to be totally impossible.
Photos: Alumni Day student prizewinners are from left, front, Moses Taylor Pyne cowinners Christopher Wendell 03 and Daniel Hantman 03; back, Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellows Sarah-Jane Murray GS and Joshua Plotkin GS. (denise applewhite). Below: Kathy Ross 79 and daughter Jennifer, 11, build a bridge in one of the family activities at Alumni Day. (frank wojciechowski)
The wet look was in at Alumni Day 2003, as more than 1,700 alumni and parents braved a February 22 rainstorm to explore the campus, take in lectures, and hear from two of Princetons most accomplished alumni.
Orange and black umbrellas were popular accessories, along with a goodly number of galoshes. The weather caused the cancellation of a walking tour of campus that day, but it was not enough to keep attendance from surpassing last years.
One reason may have been the presence of Tennessee Senator Bill Frist 74, Princetons first U.S. Senate majority leader. Frist received the Woodrow Wilson Award, given annually to an undergraduate alum who exemplifies Princeton in the nations service.
Frist and Peter Bell *64, who received this years James Madison Medal the universitys highest honor for a graduate alum were the mornings coheadliners at Richardson Auditorium, where they delivered the days featured lectures. Both were joined by their families, including Frists son, Harrison 06, and Bells daughter, Emily, a graduate student working on her M.P.A. at the Woodrow Wilson School. (Links to their speeches can be found at www.princeton.edu/paw.)
Bell, president of the international development and relief organization CARE U.S.A. and a W.W.S. alumnus, focused on sub-Saharan Africa as he talked about battling poverty. Challenges in that region include a lack of access to education and clean water, and the H.I.V./AIDS pandemic, which he called the most devastating humanitarian crisis of our time and perhaps of all time.
Bell praised Frist, who was in the audience, for his leadership in fighting AIDS, and commended the Bush administration for support of increased development aid and AIDS funding, but he also said more needs to be done. He received his loudest applause when he told the audience, Imagine the impact of a U.S. president who pursued the fight against global poverty with the same vigor that President Bush has led the campaign against Iraq.
Frist, who specialized in health-care policy at Princeton and went on to become a transplant surgeon before entering politics, focused on the connections between his two careers. He said his unique perspective as a physician has influenced him to push for Medicare reform and increased AIDS research.
His presence brought out about three-dozen student protesters from two campus groups: the Queer Radicals, a gay rights group, which was primarily protesting Frists voting record on issues related to sexual orientation, and the Student Global AIDS Campaign, which criticized what it said was the senators caving in to the White House on AIDS funding. A group of students associated with the Princeton Tory and College Republicans staged a counter-demonstration in support of Frist.
But Bell and Frist were not the only notable speakers of the day. History professor James McPherson gave a lecture on the Civil War. Maria Klawe, the new dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, spoke about high-tech teaching and her views on the direction of
engineering at Princeton. Engineering professor David Billington 50, music professor Simon Morrison *97, psychology professor Jonathan Cohen, and English professors Maria DiBattista and John Fleming *63 also presented lectures.
There were activities for children, including bridge-building at the Art Museum and a production of Glory Road!, a new musical by Granville Burgess 69 that tells the story of the Underground Railroad using a cast of children.
During the luncheon and awards ceremony in Jadwin Gym, attendees dined on chicken and pasta salad as Bell and Frist received their honors and the university gave awards to four top students.
The Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize awarded to the senior who has most clearly manifested excellent scholarship, strength of character, and effective leadership was presented to two students who were roommates during their sophomore year, Daniel Hantman 03 and Christopher Wendell 03. Hantman is concentrating in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with a focus on Latin American literature and will also earn a certificate in Latin American studies. Wendell is an English major who also will earn a certificate in the Program in Theater and Dance.
The Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowships, given to two graduate students in their final year of study for the highest scholarly excellence, went to Sarah-Jane Murray and Joshua Plotkin. Murray, who will receive her Ph.D. this year from the Department of French and Italian, is examining how early Old French romance narratives marry the writings of classical antiquity and the predominantly oral Celtic traditions of the Atlantic seaboard. Plotkin, a mathematical biologist in the Program of Applied and Computational Mathematics and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, is studying how organisms maintain their stability, cohesiveness, and individuality through time.
Several alumni groups and classes also were honored.
The Class of 52 received the Class of 26 Trophy for raising the largest amount of money in last years Annual Giving campaign. The class raised nearly $6.05 million in its 50th-reunion campaign, a record for a Princeton class.
The Class of 77 was awarded the Alumni Council Award for Community Service for its 25th-reunion project, the distribution of more than 240 wheelchairs and hundreds of pounds of hygiene, medical, and school supplies in Guatemala last year. The group also distributed 250 wheelchairs to disabled people in the Princeton area during Reunions in 2002.
The Jerry Horton Award, given to a regional Annual Giving committee, went to the committee from Houston, chaired by David Kingman Smith 52.
Arthur R. Reis Jr. 39 was recognized for his exemplary and sustained service to Annual Giving with the Harold H. Helm Award. The Class of 39 has posted greater than 90 percent participation in the annual fund drive for the last several years.
The S. Barksdale Penick Jr. 25 Award, recognizing the outstanding efforts of regional Alumni Schools Committees, went to the Alumni Association of Palm Beach and Martin Counties and the Princeton Association of New York City Bronx Alumni Schools Committee.
After the awards luncheon, most attendees waded across campus to the chapel for the Service of Remembrance to honor those Princetonians and university faculty and staff members who died last year. The Reverend Kenneth Jasko 78, pastor of the Monmouth Worship Center in Marlboro, New Jersey, gave the sermon. One of the services more moving moments was the 75-member Chapel Choirs stirring rendition of Song for Athene.
Princeton vs. New Jersey State
Last month, Brandon Ashe 04 and Ian Prevost 05, of Princetons Chess Club, were invited to play simultaneous chess against 32 inmates at a maximum security prison in Trenton, New Jersey. Ashe, the top-rated player in the club, vanquished his 17 opponents and took on eight of Prevosts after three hours, beating all but one. Prevost, shown standing, beat the remaining seven players. Ashe is majoring in operations research, and Prevost plans to major in computer science.
Ashe said the prisoners gave him a tougher fight than he expected. I really wasnt consciously thinking that my opponents were murderers; they were very polite throughout the duration of the match, and did not seem like bad people. I would definitely do it again.
Inspired by others, working for others
At CARE, Peter Bell *64 pursues eradication of poverty
Photo: Denise Applewhite
When Peter Bell *64 was a high school exchange student in Japan, he lived with a family that had lost relatives in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. In the house hung a hand-painted scroll with the mothers motto: Make the world more wonderful. Several years later, as an undergraduate at Yale, Bell encountered a similar mandate, this time from Paul Weiss, a professor of metaphysics whose relatives had died in death camps during the Holocaust. Make the world less miserable, Weiss charged his students.
The instructions Bell received from his Japanese host family and his Yale professor steered him into a lifetime of humanitarian work. On Alumni Day, Bell, president of CARE U.S.A., one of the worlds largest poverty-fighting organizations, received the James Madison Medal. It is Princetons highest award for a Graduate School alum.
Bell decided to study at Princeton, he says, to pursue his interest in international development. He entered in 1962, not long after President Kennedy famously urged citizens to ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. Change also was afoot at the Woodrow Wilson School, which was greatly expanding its graduate program, thanks to a large and then publicly anonymous gift from Charles 26 and Marie Robertson. To Bell, the school offered what felt like unlimited opportunity. We wanted to believe that, like J. F. K., we had been summoned for a noble calling, Bell recalled at the Alumni Day luncheon.
From Princeton professor Richard Falk, Bell learned about the idea of an international legal order. Edmundo Flores introduced him to Mexico, a region of the world that has continued to captivate him. Economist and Nobel laureate Sir W. Arthur Lewis taught Bell the importance of applying theories of economic development in public practice, and took time to discuss questions about how to maintain your integrity in a less-than-perfect world, Bell recalls.
Bell, whose daughter, Emily, is now a graduate student in the Wilson school, became president of CARE in 1995, after holding leading positions in other development, human rights, and relief organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Bell has helped expand CAREs work from relieving human suffering to also dealing with povertys root causes. That necessarily means our standing up for human rights and, at times, advocating for policy change, says Bell. We cannot stay clear of political issues, especially as they relate to chronic discrimination, inequity, and social injustice, but we can resist becoming partisan.
As a result of Bells focus, in Malawi, which has been devastated by a two-year drought, CARE is working with local people to build irrigation systems. In Cambodia, CARE has been promoting health and safety standards for garment factories. And in Sudan, Bell has been working to advance the peace process to end civil war, meeting with Sudanese officials, rebel leaders, and diplomats.
Some critics say that humanitarian agencies like CARE have overreached their missions; they argue that taking on a human rights approach jeopardizes their ability to remain neutral, and thus, their ability to relieve human suffering, which is in itself a noble and necessary task. But Bell is adamant that attacking the roots of poverty is the only way to end suffering for good. The debate, he says, has been going on for years. Its a lively, vigorous discussion, which I think is healthy, he says.
Bell, who lives in Atlanta, believes that the world will overcome extreme poverty in this century. The knowledge, technology, and wealth exist to end extreme poverty, he says. We need to get reducing poverty at the very top of the political agenda of governments around the world. CAREs biggest challenges today, he says, are stopping the spread of H.I.V./AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and making education available to the worlds 120 million children more than half of them girls who never have attended school.
In his Alumni Day address, Bell called on the U.S. to pay more attention to international development, noting that while the nation contributes more total dollars for that purpose than any other country, the U.S. contribution ranks last among the 22 industrialized democracies in terms of such spending as a percentage of gross national product. What motivates Bell to find an end to poverty? I get tremendous joy out of seeing the pride in the face of a woman who had been illiterate but who just signed her name on her first loan so she could start a bakery, he says. I get great satisfaction from seeing a man who turns the spigot on a faucet so his village for the first time has running, clean water.
At Princeton last month, he urged alumni to join him in his mission. The end of poverty begins with the leaders in this audience seeing how the institutions in our lives where we work, where we study, where we worship can help in the fight against global poverty. It begins with each of us casting a ballot for political leaders with a broad view of the world. . . . It begins with standing up in our corporations and urging that social responsibility applies not only in our home community but in the world community. . . . Or it may begin by making a donation or serving on the board of an international relief and development organization, he said.
Be forewarned, he added. That is how I began at CARE, and look at me now!
Free thinker, doctor, and now majority leader
For Senator Bill Frist 74, science and public policy work began at Princeton
Photo: Frank Wojciechowski
Princetons first U.S. Senate majority leader, Bill Frist 74, is known for being in the right place at the right time. Since replacing Senator Trent Lott as majority leader in December, Frist a Tennessee-born surgeon who received Princetons Woodrow Wilson Award on Alumni Day has been portrayed by some media outlets as a modern-day Superman wont to put his lifesaving skills to work in the Capitol and on the road most recently, in reviving victims of an auto accident he came upon in Florida.
Princeton classmates remember Frist running between science classes at the Frick Lab and public policy courses in the Woodrow Wilson School. On the surface, his aviator glasses the former Princeton Flying Club president has been a pilot since he was 16 was one of the things that set him apart from the crowd, says Nick Allard 74, who studied at the W.W.S. with Frist, was a member of Cottage Club with him, and served alongside him as a class officer. (Allard was president; Frist, vice president.) Allard remembers one Houseparties weekend when Frist used his own plane to fly to Tennessee to retrieve his girlfriend at her all-womens college. He also brought along a few of her friends who had agreed to accompany his dateless Cottage Club buddies.
Frist also stood out because of his studies, splitting time between premed classes and public policy. While some of us were taking rocks for jocks and clay modeling as electives, Bill was taking organic chemistry, Allard says.
Frist says he was well served by his balancing act and participation in the Woodrow Wilson Scholars program, which exempted him from formal coursework and a thesis project his senior year. This allowed him to focus on independent study in the lab and on health-care policy. That lack of constraint was very helpful to me, he says. I thrive in that sort of environment. It allows me to think bigger, to think freer. I think that started here at Princeton.
In his senior year, Frist proposed that Cottage Club go coed. His idea was voted on, but received just a handful of yeas. I was ahead of my time there, I guess, he says.
He got the timing right when he helped create a new program in 1973, joining with a few other upperclassmen and 13 freshmen on a camping trip that served as the pilot for Outdoor Action, the annual freshman introduction to Princeton. More than 11,000 students have participated in the program since then, including Frists son, Harrison 06.
After Princeton, Frist went to Harvard Medical School and later for surgical training to Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University Medical Center. He was among the first doctors in the country to perform lung and heart transplants in both adults and children and went on to perform more than 200 transplant procedures after joining the teaching faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1985. At Vanderbilt, Frist founded and eventually directed the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, which brought various organ transplant specialists under one roof and became a national model.
The operating room is not a common training ground for a U.S. senator, but after 20 years in medicine, Frist says he entered the political arena because he felt the call to public service. He had spent time in Washington in 1972 as an intern for Tennessee congressman Joe L. Evins. In 1994, Frist became the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928 when voters chose him over a three-term, Democratic incumbent.
The physician has not left his training behind, though, having attended to shooting and heart-attack victims in Washington since his arrival, and traveling to Africa annually on medical missions. The senator has full medical bags and defibrillators in two of his offices and in the SUV driven by his security guards in case of emergencies.
As the Senate majority leader, Frist says he is the person who has to herd the cats of the U.S. Senate to address each and every one of the challenges facing the country. Among those challenges, he said in his lecture in Richardson Auditorium on Alumni Day, are the war on terrorism, a slowly healing economy, the global H.I.V./AIDS pandemic, and the aging of the Baby Boom generation, which Frist said will put a tidal wave of demand upon the Medicare system.
That wave will begin starting about seven years from now. It is imminent, it is fast-approaching, it is much more powerful than any of us had previously imagined. Our policies dont reflect the realities of that baby boom, he told his audience.
Because legislators are beholden to their election cycles, they are not thinking enough about the long-term fate of Medicare, Frist said. He cited the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan which covers all members of Congress and provides broad choices, good benefits, and relatively affordable premiums as a possible model for Medicare so that all elderly Americans could have such options.
Allard says Frists people skills and other abilities make him a perfect person for his new job, even though Frist, a former Princeton young alumni and charter trustee, is the least experienced politician in modern history to be Senate majority leader, having served in the Senate for just eight years.
Someone asked me what his weakness is, Allard recalls, and I said, Kryptonite.