October 5, 2005: From the Editor
Despite the celebrations and festivities that arrived, as always, in September, the official start to the new academic year struck an unusually somber note. Opening Exercises fell on the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the campus, like many communities, was responding to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
As it did in the aftermath of the tragedy four years ago, the Princeton community, including the alumni body, was quick to offer support to victims of Katrina. In our Notebook section, associate editor Brett Tomlinson details that response, from “Project Backpack,” through which alumni arranged for the distribution of 5,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to children in relief centers in Baton Rouge and Houston, to concerts organized by newly returned students to raise money for people who had lost family members, friends, and property.
A TigerNet discussion group quickly was set up to help alumni reconnect with friends and to discuss ways to help. The group became a personal discussion offering gifts from the heart, as alumni volunteered housing, supplies, and support to storm victims, Princetonians and non-Princetonians alike. A member of the Class of 1981 offered a place to stay in her home. An alum in the Class of 1996 said she had rented a minivan and would be happy to drive an evacuated family from a shelter. A retired social worker, a member of the Class of 1969, volunteered his services counseling children and parents.
The University provided an official response, offering to help rebuild Dillard University in New Orleans and to temporarily enroll about 30 students from colleges in the devastated area. “To the displaced students who have joined us from universities and colleges in New Orleans, I extend on behalf of everyone in the Princeton community a heartfelt Tiger welcome,” President Tilghman said at Opening Exercises. “Some of you and your families have endured enormous loss, and I hope that you will find at Princeton a safe haven in which to regroup and move forward, as well as to continue your education.”
PAW will provide additional coverage of the disaster in the Oct. 19 issue. Here, we offer an excerpt from John McPhee ’53’s In Control of Nature, a 16-year-old book that has rarely seemed more timely.
With this issue we begin an occasional feature called “Whatever Happened to ... ?” The feature, found at the beginning of Class Notes on page 31, will provide updates on the lives of alumni who enjoyed 15 minutes of fame — or more — while students at Princeton. We begin with Keith Elias ’94, captain of the 1993 football team. If you would like to suggest future candidates, or are curious about what happened to someone who made a mark on campus, please contact Class Notes editor Fran Hulette at firstname.lastname@example.org.