May 10, 2006: Notebook
When University Architect Jon Hlafter ’61 *63 visited Dillard University in New Orleans in early February, more than five months after Hurricane Katrina, he saw oak trees withered by the eight feet of salty Lake Pontchartrain water that had covered the campus in the wake of the hurricane. The puddles left by a recent rain shower showed that local drainage pumps still were not at full strength. But Katrina’s imprint was most obvious in the first building he saw: The upper floors were intact, but the ground level had been stripped to its skeleton of bare studs to remove the mold and water damage. “I went in that one building, from room to room, and then I went to another building, and another building,” Hlafter said. “They were all like that.”
Hlafter, whose visit was part of an ongoing effort by Princeton and Brown universities to help Dillard rebuild, returned to New Orleans in March to participate in a discussion with Dillard trustees and administrators about the future of the campus. But he is quick to downplay his contributions. The real story, he said, is what Dillard is doing for itself.
The hurricane forced the small, historically black college to postpone its first semester, but Dillard reopened in a Hilton hotel in downtown New Orleans in January, beginning an intensive six-month, two-semester course of study. Students and professors live in the hotel, hold classes in conference rooms, and ride buses to other local colleges for lab-science sessions. Administrators operating from temporary office space nearby are overseeing the rebuilding of the campus so that students can return this September.
Princeton has extended a helping hand through a partnership organized last fall by Brown president Ruth Simmons, a Dillard alumna and a former vice provost at Princeton. Soon after Princeton announced its participation, faculty and staff began contacting Karen Jezierny, the University’s director of public affairs, to volunteer.
In the beginning, Jezierny said, Princeton’s most significant contribution was simply to help Dillard’s team of decision-makers communicate with each other and with the broader university community. Administrators had dispersed before the storm to stay with family members and friends, and in addition to working long hours to address the needs of the college, they had to take care of their own families. Jezierny recalled that at one point Dillard’s director of communications, Maureen Larkins, worked from the library at the elementary school where her children had temporarily enrolled. “I kept thinking, ‘Could I do that, if it happened to me?’” Jezierny said.
Small groups of Princeton staff members have chipped in on a variety of projects in the last few months, from organizing computer donations to helping Dillard restock its library collections. Faculty members have helped as well, working with Dillard faculty to evaluate the university’s curricular offerings. But helping from afar has limits, Hlafter said, especially when addressing Dillard’s most imposing challenges, like rebuilding the campus.
About half of Dillard’s previous enrollment of 2,300 students returned when classes resumed in January. To reopen in September, the university will have to settle insurance issues and rebuild campus rooms for more than 1,000 students — a daunting task, Hlafter said. The university also needs to attract new students for next fall’s freshman class. Meanwhile, faculty members face the prospect of living in trailers on lonely streets while their homes are repaired. (Few businesses or citizens have returned to the campus’s Gentilly neighborhood.)
Jezierny marveled at the resilience and determination that she has seen from Dillard administrators, and she said Princeton would continue to lend its assistance wherever it can. She also is looking forward to visiting New Orleans to meet some of her Dillard counterparts face to face. One possible time for that visit is July 1, when Dillard plans to hold its commencement on campus, under the oaks, in an outdoor ceremony not unlike the one scheduled to take place in front of Nassau Hall in June. “It’s going to be a really emotional time for them,” Jezierny said, “and it’s going to be a real achievement.”
A series of alcohol-related incidents during the weekend that the eating clubs selected and initiated new members has prompted renewed scrutiny of what the University’s vice president of student life, Janet Dickerson, called “the culture of high-risk drinking” on campus.
After a sexual assault was reported at Tiger Inn on pickups weekend, the graduate board on Feb. 19 temporarily shut the taps and suspended the social calendar, saying that “the future of the club is at stake.”
Terrace, a sign-in club, stopped admitting non-members to social events April 5 as borough investigators considered charges in an incident in which a sophomore club member fell as she was going downstairs to the tap room. “The club felt threatened, so the officers decided to close the club to non-members,” said David Willard ’60, chairman of the club’s graduate board.
“There’s something about bicker,” said Daniel Silverman, the University’s chief medical officer. “You have initiation rites, lots of alcohol, rituals, some nudity – it’s a toxic mix.” Silverman said the University had made an extra effort before the weekend of club initiations to promote awareness of drinking risks and strategies to avoid sexual misconduct.
The effort did not succeed, said University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96. “We were disappointed by the continued lack of buy-in by many of the students,” Cliatt said. “We just came to the feeling, this is it: Students need to start taking more responsibility.”
Hap Cooper ’82, president of Tiger Inn’s board of governors, said the board had acted after a number of incidents this year. “It is clear to the grad board that we have a systemic problem involving excessive alcohol consumption and poor decision-making that routinely jeopardizes the safety of our members and our community,” he said in a letter to club members.
A police investigation into the February sexual incident at the club was closed without charges being filed. An incident at Tiger Inn in November, however, led to charges of criminal sexual contact and lewdness against a junior who was not a club member. The student, who is no longer enrolled at the University, entered a pretrial intervention program in March.
Tiger Inn resumed its social activities in mid-April after club members developed a detailed set of policies and penalties designed to change the perception, in the words of a document signed by all members, that “reckless or irresponsible behavior has become almost expected within our walls,” the membership said in a nine-page document.
The first weekend back on tap showed that procedures to make the club “fun and safe” are working, Cooper said. Club members escorted one student back to his dorm, he said, and other students were turned away because they arrived after the club’s new 1 a.m. cutoff for non-members.
Issues of alcohol abuse and bad decision-making “are not unique to Tiger,” Cooper said. “Maybe the whole Street will start to think about these things differently.”
With the annual meeting of University and Princeton Borough officials planned for this month, councilman David Goldfarb expressed concern about the alcohol-related incidents. “We need to look at steps that will address this problem or someone is going to end up dead,” he said.
Cliatt said the University sees the actions at Tiger Inn and Terrace as positive developments, however: “The grad boards are taking responsibility, saying the culture has to change.”
Marco Fossati-Bellani ’07, president of both Colonial Club and the Interclub Council, said the clubs have taken steps to provide a safer environment, including the locking of doors to all rooms not used for party space. But he said students must take more responsibility for their own behavior and for the actions of their friends.
“The current sentiment appears to be that an individual is to some degree not responsible for her or her own actions, and that drunkenness is an excuse for inexcusable actions,” he said. He also urged the University to get tough on drinking in the dorms, saying that a high percentage of students who require medical attention for excessive drinking “are involved in pre-gaming” on campus.
Cutting methane emissions, a frequently proposed option for slowing global warming, could yield significant benefits for public health as well, according to a study by Princeton researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March. A 20 percent reduction in the methane generated by humans by 2010, the authors found, would reduce surface ozone enough to curtail respiratory ailments in highly populated areas and could prevent an estimated 370,000 deaths worldwide during the next 20-year period. Woodrow Wilson School assistant professor Denise Mauzerall, atmospheric and oceanic sciences researcher Jason West, and Arlene Fiore and Larry Horowitz of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory found that the health benefits of reducing methane are “comparable” with those previously calculated for curbing carbon dioxide.
When Andrew Carnegie retired from the steel business in 1901, he undertook philanthropy with the drive that had made him America’s second-richest man. Princeton’s president, Woodrow Wilson 1879, pursued Carnegie just as industriously, hoping he would fund several items on a wish list Wilson had drawn up for the college.
Wilson’s visions for a quad system or a graduate college failed to catch Carnegie’s interest. But a painter and former oarsman of the Class of 1876 named Howard Butler did, making a pitch for a Princeton crew lake as he painted Carnegie’s portrait.
Carnegie — a lover of his own castle’s man-made “lochs,” and eager to promote rowing over the less-genteel football (“young gentlemen groveling in the dirt”) — leaped at the suggestion. He wrote to Wilson about his planned “great gift” — and so began the building of Lake Carnegie, the first lake in the United States dug specifically for crew races.
The tale was recounted by Constance Grieff, a preservation consultant and longtime Princeton resident, speaking April 9 to more than 50 people in Betts Auditorium in the School of Architecture. A new exhibition at Firestone Library, which runs through Sept. 24, features photographs printed from glass negatives of the lake’s development from grasses and marsh into a beloved Princeton waterscape.
As the photographs show, construction was arduous. The Carnegie gift bought more than 400 acres of land, felled trees, unearthed stumps, and scraped out the bottom. Three bridges rose and two moved. A dam appeared at Kingston. Originally estimated at $118,000, or about $2.5 million today, the cost of building swelled to four times that amount.
But the lake was a wild success. Just over 31/2 miles long, running from 300 to 1,000 feet wide and six feet deep, Carnegie drew families and hikers to its shores, which were designed to look natural. The water reflected an overhanging brow of trees: hardwoods, cherry trees, and willows “said to have come from slips of willow trees under which Napoleon sat while exiled on St. Helena,” Greiff said.
In the ’20s, up to 15,000 spectators would line Carnegie’s shores to watch Princeton crewmen race. The ’30s saw winter skaters and summer sailors, among them Albert Einstein.
Kenneth Miller ’72, a great-grandson of Andrew Carnegie, recalled skating on the lake as a boy of 3. He said Carnegie’s philanthropy is a lasting legacy, telling of a friend who had remarked, “I can’t figure out how he made so much money, owning a chain of libraries.”
By Elyse Graham ’07
A committee of Princeton faculty, students, and administrators has called for a ban on University investments in companies that assist perpetrators of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. The resources committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community presented its resolution to the trustee finance committee April 7, and the trustees plan to contact the companies in question.
The University does not have direct holdings in the companies identified by peer institutions that already have divested from companies linked to Darfur, according to Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69. But Durkee said the University has identified five companies in which it has “indirect exposure” through commingled accounts like hedge funds or mutual funds — PetroChina, Sinopec, Tatneft, ABB, and Bharat Heavy Electricals.
Heidi Miller ’74, chairwoman of the trustee finance committee, will write to company leaders to express Prince-ton’s concerns and ask for an explanation of how the company’s operations affect the situation in Darfur. In June, the trustees could decide whether to prohibit future investment in any or all of the five firms. The trustees also may call on the University treasurer’s office to research other companies of concern, Durkee said.
In the last year, several top universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, have divested or disassociated from companies operating in Sudan, and the CPUC resources committee examined the measures taken by other schools. Economics professor Henry Farber, the resources committee chairman, said that the Princeton resolution reaches “beyond what has been done elsewhere” with a provision to express the University’s concerns about Darfur to the managers of indirect holdings in mutual funds, hedge funds, partnerships, and other assets. Indirect holdings comprise a majority of Princeton’s endowment.
Teel Lidow ’07, a founding member of the Princeton Coalition Advocating Investor Responsibility (P-CAIR), supported the resolution and said he hoped it would draw more attention to the situation in Sudan. The United Nations estimates that the current conflict has claimed the lives of nearly 200,000 people in Darfur.
The University created guidelines for socially responsible investing after its divestment from companies in South Africa during the apartheid era. The trustees set investment policy for University funds, but the CPUC resources committee can advise the trustees when an issue generates sustained interest on campus and the actions of companies involved conflict with the University’s central values. The resolution on Darfur, Farber said, meets that high standard. “It’s not a political position,” he said. “It’s a humanitarian position in line with the University’s values.”
“ANGELS ON THE BORDER,” a collection of religious paintings by Mexican immigrants, will be on display from May 14 through June 4 on the second and third floors of Aaron Burr Hall. For more than 20 years, Douglas Massey, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton, and his research partner, Jorge Durand of the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico, have collected retablos, religious images painted by Mexican immigrants to thank God and the saints for their protection as they crossed the border into the United States. Massey will speak about the exhibit during a reception in Aaron Burr Hall June 2 at 3 p.m.
Erling Norrby, a former member of the board of the Nobel Foundation, will discuss “OVER 100 YEARS OF NOBEL PRIZES” Wednesday, May 10, at 4 p.m. in Carl Icahn Lab 101. Norrby will talk about the creation of the foundation, the prize-selection process and the secrecy surrounding it, and what the prizes say about creative settings.
Richardson Auditorium will host “THE CARPENTERS: LIVE IN CONCERT” on Friday, May 12, at 8 p.m. Performing will be The Carpenters (Sean ’03, Lauren ’06, and David ’08), Ami Connolly ’07, graduate student Ruth Ochs, Christine McLeavey ’01, music instructor Anna Lim, and members of the Princeton University Orchestra in works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Prokofiev, and Beethoven. A reception will follow. Complimentary tickets may be obtained at the Richardson ticket office the evening of the event or by calling 609-258-5000.
Reunions 2006 is beckoning, and the Alumni Council is preparing for another banner year as the weekend of June 1–4 approaches.
Reunions attendance of 20,000 or more has been reported for the last several years “and we expect to see some records broken this year,” said Adrienne Rubin ’88, the council’s associate director.
Among the events scheduled for this year: The Continuing Legal Education Conference June 1 will focus on “Law and Money”; the CEO of J. Crew, Mickey Drexler, will be the keynote speaker June 2 at the annual conference of the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network; and the Woodrow Wilson School will conclude its 75th-anniversary celebration with a gala birthday party June 3.
Alumni-faculty forums June 2 and 3 will cover topics that include Iraq in 2010, new architecture at Princeton, how love and marriage have changed, the first year of the Roberts court, epidemics and the next pandemic, and the question, “Are we burning out our kids?” Campus shuttle service for Reunions has been expanded.
The Council of the Humanities hopes to start a new tradition by hosting alumni who took humanities courses that included a summary “final lecture” set in heaven. Professor Theodore K. Rabb, who is about to retire, will give a comprehensive version of that final lecture June 3.
June 3 events will include the annual conversation with President Tilghman, the P-rade, and the evening fireworks display.
Princeton offered admission to 1,792 applicants for the CLASS OF 2010 — 10.2 percent of a record 17,563 students who applied. About 1,220 are expected to enroll. Acceptance letters were mailed March 29 to 1,193 regular-decision applicants; 599 early-decision students were admitted in December. All 50 states and 53 countries outside the United States are represented, and 44 percent of those admitted are from minority backgrounds. Fifty-two percent are men and 48 percent are women. Children of Princeton alumni comprise 9.9 percent of the admitted students. More than half of all admitted students were offered financial aid. Alumni volunteers interviewed more than 16,000 candidates — 91 percent of the applicants — the admission office said.
The Class of 2006 selected former president BILL CLINTON as the keynote speaker at Class Day June 5, bucking a recent trend of choosing comedians and entertainers. Class president Chris Lloyd ’06 said in an e-mail to seniors that he expected Clinton’s career in public service to “inspire our class and family members as we gather together to celebrate our Princeton experiences.” Class Day chairs who organized the event were seniors Shaun Callaghan; Harrison Frist, son of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ’74; and Lauren Bush, niece of President Bush.
Robin Givhan ’86 and Caroline Elkins ’91 were awarded Pulitzer Prizes April 17. Givhan, a Washington Post staff writer, was commended for “her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism.” Elkins, an associate professor of history at Harvard, won the general nonfiction prize for her first book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya.
A 21-year-old PRINCETON SENIOR from Chicago, Manzili J. Davis, was found dead April 18 in East Palo Alto, Calif. The University said in a statement that Davis’ family had been informed that the death was a suicide. “As a community, we are deeply saddened by this loss,” President Tilghman said. She said a memorial service for Davis would be planned.