April 20, 2005: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
Your writer hinted at it (Notebook, March 9), the faculty and grad students he interviewed suggested it, but they didn’t have the guts to just come out and say it clearly: Mean, conservative, right-wing, oppressive American industry is a better place for women scientists and engineers to work than correct-thinking, progressive American academia. Industry is obviously way ahead in offering family-friendly incentives such as child care, reasonable hours, spousal jobs, professional mentoring, and career paths much less intimidating than the traditional university tenure track. Industry cares about what scientists can do for them, not how many papers they can publish in journals.
Of course, liberals will suggest that these opportunities exist only because companies have been forced into compliance with equal opportunity laws by lawsuits. If that is true, then the trial lawyers have gone after industry, and not universities, because of perceptions about who has deeper pockets.
I suggest another reason why women are leaning toward a career in industry: If male scientists find the time-consuming writing of grant proposals and begging to be the least desirable part of being a professor, I would imagine that females would find it even more distasteful. Unfortunately, many companies are scaling back or eliminating their research and development departments (cover story, Feb. 23) and are essentially contracting their work out to universities.
RICH CLARVIT ’83
I noted with interest the letter of Craig Cornelius ’01 (March 9) worrying about the effect of Smith “exchange” students on Princeton’s reputation in engineering. At MIT, we have had such an exchange program with Wellesley for decades. I haven’t seen any decrease in MIT’s standing as a result. There’s even an exchange program with a neighboring university in Cambridge; no apparent problems there, either. As far as I can see, the exchange programs have worked well for all institutions concerned, and I’m sure it will work for Princeton and Smith.
RICHARD LANZA ’59
As the former librarian of the Woodrow Wilson School, I was deeply saddened to read of Professor David Bradford’s death (Notebook, March 9). In the academic world, there are many difficult people with inflated egos, but David was never that way. Even with accomplishments that few people could even dream of, David was always warm, friendly, compassionate, and gracious. Whenever he came to the library, where he always treated my staff with the greatest respect, it was a pleasure to deal with him. I found myself wanting to do anything I could for him, whether it related to reserve readings, research, or recommendations for books and journals. David was truly a good person, and I hope these words will, in some small way, add to the memories of him held by his family.
The topic “Religion and moral values in public life” is not one appropriately tackled in three pages (Perspective, March 9). To attempt to do so is to relegate the topic to that of the progress of the lacrosse team during this past season.
My overall sense today is that we are living in an era of nominal Christianity in which many people are reasonably good at “church” and “religion” but have little knowledge of the Bible. That being said, when Amy Ebeling McCreath ’87 tells us that she knows not whether she is in “Jesusland,” then the only response is that she needs to find another job — social work, perhaps, but not as a Christian spiritual leader for college students.
Professor Eddie S. Glaude *97 provides us with more insightful analysis in his final paragraph. Christians need to be true followers of Christ. Let’s not use our religion to affect policy for our own purposes, but let’s read the word of God, follow it, and let it take us where He wants it to.
CHRISTOPHER E. SMITH ’73
In the essay by Amy Ebeling McCreath ’87, why is there not a “sic” after the program called “Just Desserts”?
Visions of caloric excesses abound.
KEEN JAMES ’51
That was a fine piece you did on the new Daily Princetonian in your Feb. 23 issue.
As chairman of the Prince 55 years ago, and as a current trustee of the graduate board, I want to add a few compliments and insights. High praise is due Zachary Goldfarb ’05, immediate past editor-in-chief, for his zeal and diligence in surmounting many obstacles in accomplishing the transition from tabloid black-and-white to broadsheet four-color and general graphics redesign. He had a lot of help, but Zach carried the ball and has achieved a more appealing and effective campus newspaper.
Running a daily newspaper at a tough academic place like Princeton is not easy, as I discovered long ago, when the demands might have made me flunk out if I hadn’t come up with an honors thesis to lift my course grades.
I defied tradition and took the Prince into some national political coverage. On the night of the 1948 election, I stayed at the press downtown until 5:30 a.m., and we avoided the celebrated goof of the Chicago Tribune in proclaiming a Dewey victory. The Prince headline was cautious: “Dewey Probable Winner With Popular Minority, Truman Confounds Nation With Early Urban Margin.” The next day we gave Truman full credit: “Truman Smashes Election Myths As Upset Confounds Polls, Public.” We tried hard to uphold the highest standards of responsible journalism.
Melisa Gao ’06, the new editor-in-chief, has assumed the reins of the new Prince. She’s off to a good start, and she has an opportunity to make a very good college newspaper even better in its new finery.
BILL RENTSCHLER ’49
I endorse the sentiments of Brian Binnie *78 and Professor Robert Stengel *68 about the Flight Research Laboratory at the Forrestal campus (feature, Feb. 23). I was fortunate to be a graduate student of Professor Edward Seckel ’43 *48 in the late ’60s and found the environment there to be unique among university research establishments of the day. The breadth of experimental capability in aeronautics at Forrestal, coupled with the academic program offered by an outstanding faculty, was the basis for Princeton’s top ranking among universities in aeronautical education and research. I certainly share Professor Seckel’s chagrin at the demise of a fine program.
JAMES A. FRANKLIN *70
I read with interest your recent article (cover story, Feb. 23) on the commercialization of academic research. Princeton’s commitment to industry collaboration is encouraging and should receive continued support by the University community. By focusing on industry-sponsored research programs, however, the article gave a somewhat misleading suggestion that all university research that is commercialized is promulgated by corporate subsidies.
In truth, most university research that finds its way into commerce originates out of pure academic curiosity or the quest to provide a solution to a problem that has social value. While ultimately it may generate profits for those involved, that fact should not be frowned upon. Princeton, and the university system in general, was created to generate an educated workforce — to produce thinkers and problem-solvers who would help shape and forge national and global progress. Our University’s motto of “Princeton in the nation’s service” is served by sharing the work of Princeton’s gifted thinkers (both students and professors alike) with society. The gap between universities and the marketplace has been underdeveloped for too long, and ultimately it is the social good that suffers.
While university “technology transfer” offices have become commonplace, it wasn’t long ago that the concept of commercializing university discoveries was a relatively novel one. It is true that the avenues to bring university technologies to market are being developed. Google and Genentech are successful recent examples, but the inefficiencies are still remarkable.
Consider that the United States and Canada invest approximately $40 billion annually in universities and federally funded labs for research and development. While this investment yields over 17,000 new inventions each year, approximately 70 percent of these remain unlicensed. Those who believe all worthwhile inventions will find their way to market are misled. An astonishing number of helpful and remarkable technologies sit unused somewhere in a university or lab. The pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake is a noble goal, but what social value results if the product ends up sitting in a university patent office?
I thought Dean Klawe’s comments about problem-solving in the article were telling. We should, when appropriate, take an active approach to commercializing the work of our researchers. Our efforts to solve real-world problems serve not only academia and intellectual growth, but also the greater good of individual and community well-being.
SEAN EDWARDS ’92
Like most alumni, I have received an “Important Update from the Alumni Association of Princeton University.” What’s so important? A solicitation for a Princeton alumni credit card.
Shame on Princeton. Does the University (or the alumni association) need money so badly that it has teamed up with the despicable credit card industry, which enslaves millions of Americans in an endless treadmill of debt?
Certainly Princeton — with its huge endowment and its high-minded “In the nation’s service” mantra — can set a more ethical and better example.
CHARLES LOCKWOOD ’70
One of my sons, Army Reserve Capt. Tobias B. Anderson, is in Iraq. Another son, Maj. John E. Anderson, Special Forces Group chaplain, is going to Afghanistan in three weeks. I now have a better understanding of how my parents felt when I was in Korea as a rifle platoon leader with the 1st Marine Division before the cease-fire in 1953.
LARRY ANDERSON ’52
The article about Professor Peter Singer (feature, Jan. 26) gave me a much better insight into his life, opinions, and teaching. As a scientist, I can appreciate the benefits of the logic and reasoning that he must impart to his students. However, I have great difficulty understanding how any truly ethical framework can justify the intentional killing of innocent human beings who want to live. In particular, I cannot see how children with major disabilities can simply be discarded from their conception until they reach the age of reason.
As an example, my 20-year-old daughter has multiple disabilities from a traumatic birth experience. Shortly after her birth, we were told by the medical community that her brain would not develop beyond that of a 3-month-old. Later we were told that she would not walk and that she would not talk. The predictions all proved to be false, and over the years she has inspired and led many others to respect those with disabilities and to alleviate the suffering of the poor. During discussions about her birth or about abortion, Kathryn has said voluntarily that she is happy to be alive today. She does not complain about her disabilities as suffering, nor does she say that she wishes she never lived or wishes her life would end. I wonder how many others with disabilities feel the same way or would feel the same way if they were allowed to live. Perhaps Professor Singer has a major disability of his own, and I think we should allow him to live, too.
RALPH M. KOWALIK ’74
I am surprised that PAW succumbed to the inconsequential flattery of Charles Reul ’60, M.D., for his plaudits (Letters, March 9) directed to the recent “Exploring Ethics” issue (Jan. 26). One point I would raise is a general philosophical concern about the way in which man’s egotistical mind-set has gained ascendancy over our social existence. More than ever, egoism is grinding ethical consciousness into oblivion. It engenders an oppressive atmosphere of fear — fear that someone is going to take something away from us and thereby gain the upper hand. Guilt feelings result from this lack of trust. But the belief is that by being host to the ego, we can give all of our guilt away. In this way, the need for reparation does not seem to be ours; by projecting our guilt onto others, we covet peace for ourselves.
A fallacy of the immature human mind is the belief that we are capable of exercising our will independently when, in actuality, we live in a world where there is no such thing as independence. We forget that the members of the human race are interrelated by birth and that we can never be completely independent. This is what society is all about — the community of man. In order for us to mature as individuals and be assimilated into this community, we must come to a decision early on about what path we will follow: Either we identify with the ego, which is the power of disintegration that breeds chaos here on earth, or with our soul and its integrating spiritual power, which derives from love. The power of love naturally resides within us if we do not allow it to be displaced by the disintegrating power of the ego.
Whatever we want to call this disintegrative influence, we must recognize it as a power that influences decision-making, that is, it influences the exercise of free will. What is so treacherous is that the ego will never let anyone who hosts it recognize this. Such recognition would make it homeless. So, there is one idea behind which the ego hides: that love demands sacrifice, and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. The corollary is that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear. The great moral and ethical insight to be expounded here is simply this: Fear is motivated by a lack of trust, which equates with a lack of love.
T.V. GILLMAN ’49
Photos: Princeton University Archives
Risa Williams ’85 called to tell me about this picture (From the Archives, March 9) of my freshman roommate Michelle Kriegman, left; Lisa Banner, middle; and me. It was taken during Cane Spree our freshman year — 1981.
JOANNE SHERRY RAMSAY ’85
Editor’s note: Also contacting PAW to identify the three classmates were Marc Lange ’85 and Cindy Stoughton Barnard ’85.
Re the query (Letters, March 9) from Hal Roth ’70 about the identity of students in the photo above who were marching against the war in May 1970, Rob Slocum ’71 wrote in to identify the two students on the pavement as Jim Lieber ’71, left, and Sam Lipsman ’71. Jay Pottenger ’71’s e-mail agreed with Slocum and also identified Terry Pflaumer ’71 behind Lipsman and, near the right edge of the photo, Luther Munford ’71.
The snow sculpture shown in the Feb. 9 issue (From the Archives) was one of a series by students of professor/ sculptor/boxer Joe Brown in the art and archaeology department and, I was told, under his tutelage. The sculptures were arranged in the (then) open space between the department’s offices and Dod Hall, where I lived. The figures attracted a great many visitors from the campus and town.
TOM PECK ’48
Editor’s note: For Tom Peck’s photos of the snow sculptures, click here.