March 5, 2008: Notebook
The Board of Trustees raised tuition, room, and board by 3.9 percent and increased the pool of undergraduate financial aid by 7 percent as part of a $1.24 billion operating budget for 2008–09, approved Jan. 26. Investment income, primarily from the University endowment, will fund about 45 percent of the budget.
The costs for an undergraduate will be $45,695: $34,290 for tuition, $6,205 for room, and $5,200 for board. The University said the total figure compares favorably with the tuition and fees of peer institutions. In January, Yale announced a 2.2 percent increase in tuition, room, and board — set to mirror the projected rate of inflation — raising its total bill to $45,990.
Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83, chairman of the Priorities Committee, a group of faculty, staff, students, and administrators that submits the budget proposal to President Tilghman, said that Princeton’s tuition increase is “likely to be less than or equal to the average rate of increase in the incomes of tuition-paying families.” The 2008–09 undergraduate financial aid pool will be $86.7 million, more than half of the total amount that the University expects to collect in undergraduate tuition.
Universities with large endowments have been scrutinized in recent months by members of the Senate Finance Committee, including Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman, who has questioned whether universities should be compelled to spend 5 percent of their assets each year, as charitable foundations are required to do. In an October 2007 letter to the Finance Committee, University Vice President and Secretary Robert K. Durkee ’69 wrote that Princeton’s payout rate for 2007–08 was “roughly 4.6 percent” of the endowment. The University budgeted $535 million of its investment income to fund operating expenses in the current academic year and plans to spend more than $568 million in 2008–09.
About $1.6 million of the 2008–09 budget will fund new initiatives, including larger stipends for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences, salary increases for faculty and staff, and additional staff positions in several areas, such as health services, information technology, and the Frist Campus Center. In response to University Student Government requests, the laundry facilities at campus dormitories will receive new machines and a Web-based monitoring system that will allow students to check on their wash loads from their desks. The University also plans to increase its support of intramural and club sports.
Eisgruber, in his annual letter to President Tilghman, wrote that the University is in “excellent financial health,” thanks to strong endowment returns and record-breaking Annual Giving. There was one cloud in the budget picture: Growth in federal research funding again failed to keep pace with inflation, growing by just 0.6 percent last year.
The late physicist John Bardeen *36, co-inventor of the transistor and a two-time Nobel Prize winner, is one of four scientists featured in a group of new postage stamps to be released March 6. Bardeen will become one of at least a dozen Princeton alumni featured on U.S. postal issues, joining a list that spans from presidents to pop culture.
James Madison 1771 and Woodrow Wilson 1879 each have appeared on multiple stamps, and a dapper James Stewart ’32 graced his own special issue last year. Princeton authors and playwrights also have been well represented, with stamps featuring F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17 (the background shows the green light on Daisy Buchanan’s dock), Eugene O’Neill ’10, and Thornton Wilder *26.
Statesmen John Foster Dulles 1908 and Adlai Stevenson ’22 were honored with stamps in the 1960s. Nearly a century earlier, Benjamin Rush 1760, Richard Stockton 1748, and former University President John Witherspoon appeared on an 1869 stamp that commemorated the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Bardeen will be in familiar company in the American Scientists stamp series. Earlier honorees include Richard Feynman *42, a fellow Nobel laureate in physics, and mathematician John von Neumann, a onetime Princeton professor who was on the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study during Bardeen’s time on campus.
When Jon Hlafter ’61 *63 took a course on visual perception as part of his architectural studies as an undergraduate, a typical test would ask the class to draw a cross-section of Alexander Hall or to reproduce the color of the curtain in the Garden Theater.
“It caused me to notice details more than ever before,” Hlafter recalled in an interview with PAW last month. “I learned something about the campus virtually every day” — and even today, he says, he finds something new each day as he travels around the campus.
Hlafter has been overseeing the Princeton campus since 1968 — first as director of physical planning and, since 2004, as University architect. This month he is stepping down, just short of his 69th birthday, amid praise for his role in shaping everything that has happened physically to the campus for four decades — the buildings, the landscape, the walkways.
During that time the University has grown from about 6 million square feet of building space to more than 9 million square feet — an increase of about 50 percent. Hlafter said he does not see himself as a master builder, however. “I am basically a steward,” he said. “My role is to connect new things to old things, to make connections as helpful and as inspiring as they can be.”
President Tilghman cited Hlafter’s “deep understanding of and appreciation for the aesthetic qualities that make up the experience of living and working in our community.”
Hlafter has been closely involved with planning for the campus as a whole as well as with individual building projects from their inception to their completion, said Robert K. Durkee ’69, University vice president and secretary. This includes coordinating the list of architects invited to submit proposals for specific projects, as well as being the University’s primary contact with an architect during design and construction work.
As an example, vice president for facilities Michael McKay said that Hlafter worked very closely with architect Demetri Porphyrios *80 in “guiding the overall design” of Whitman College.
Hlafter said he wanted to see the completion of Whitman College, which opened in September, and the Lewis Science Library, which is largely finished and expected to open in the fall, before he retired. Tilghman praised the two projects as “the capstones” of Hlafter’s career at Princeton, saying they capture “his insistence that its buildings, vistas, and walkways are of the highest quality.”
Hlafter is well known to alumni for his trademark bow ties as well as campus tours and visual presentations on how the campus developed historically. “He has an incredible reservoir of knowledge about the campus,” said Stan Allen *88, dean of the architecture school. “He’s got a story about every building.”
Don’t ask Hlafter which are his favorite buildings on campus, however — he says that would be like asking which of his children he likes best. He likewise declined to say which building project has been most controversial. “I try not to keep score on that stuff,” he said, adding that a single project can prompt one critic to complain it is too traditional while another says it is too modern.
He said he enjoyed projects that have given new life to old buildings, citing the 2003 renovation of East Pyne. Perhaps his most critical role, he said, has been to represent the University in securing approval of building projects from local officials.
McKay said he hopes that a new architect will be announced by the end of March. Hlafter, who will be named University architect emeritus upon his retirement, has agreed to work on special projects for a year.
“Jon’s contributions to Princeton can be measured by the way people feel about the campus,” Durkee said. “For most alumni, it is exceedingly attractive and appealing.”
For today’s college students, logging on to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is a nearly universal habit. Internet entrepreneur Alex Salzman ’07 compares it to rock ’n’ roll — a cultural phenomenon that kids loved before parents could understand it. “It is a generational thing, but I think it’s spreading,” Salzman said. “You get drawn in.”
At least Salzman hopes you do. His company, Rethos.com, is billed as “MySpace with a conscience,” with channels that encourage individuals, nonprofit groups, and companies to discuss issues that they care about, from the environment to social justice.
Two other startups with Princeton ties are applying social networking to the college admissions world. Zinch.com, launched by Mick Hagen ’09 and two business partners in March 2007, aims to give colleges a chance to scan the talents of individual students, and Admish.com, founded by Breanden Beneschott ’09, Sandy Gibson ’06, and recent McGill Univer-sity graduate Brad Milne, hopes to give students the tools they need to decide which school is right for them. Admish went online for pilot users in September and was set to expand this year.
Each company hopes to connect people who otherwise might not find each other. Nonprofit groups, Salzman said, often have strong connections with local supporters, but they have difficulty meeting up with like-minded groups in other areas. A site like Rethos could help to widen their circle of influence.
For college admission officers, social networking may have a narrower focus. Hagen explained that colleges “have specific types of students they are looking for,” but when they reach out to students, the mailing lists often are based on test scores and little else. With Zinch, an admission officer can search more than 200,000 student profiles for specific interests or talents and reach out to the most promising individuals.
Admish takes a broader view of the admission process, posting profiles not only for admission officers, high school students, and guidance counselors, but also for parents, who can form their own networks. The site also aims to reduce the “inefficiencies” of applying to college, Beneschott said, providing tools that help students to decide where to apply. For example, Admish users can compare schools using a “make your own rankings” page, which allows the user to set his or her own ranking criteria.
Building a critical mass is key in social networking, so all three sites allow users to create profiles for free. The companies draw income from sponsors and advertisers, or in Zinch’s case, from small subscription fees paid by the more than 380 colleges that subscribe to the site.
To get their companies off the ground, Princeton’s young social-networking entrepreneurs have spent long days attracting investors and building the technical tools that power their Web sites, often setting aside their academic work. Salzman finished his classes last spring but has not made much progress on his senior thesis (planned topic: corporate responsibility and its relation to media). Beneschott completed just one year at Princeton before taking leave to work on Admish, which is based in Princeton. And Hagen has been on leave for a year and a half, working from his home in Utah. All three plan to complete their degrees.
“I know the importance of education,” Hagen said in an e-mail. “It’s what I preach everyday with Zinch. ... I’ll definitely be back. But for now, I’m following my dreams.”
For years Orange Key guides would pause at the School of Architecture building and comment that the structure, built in 1963, was the ugliest building on campus. “They would stop right outside my window,” says Stan Allen *88, dean of the school, “and they always got a good laugh.” But that may be changing with the completion of a new, glass-enclosed addition that links the office/library and classroom/studio wings. Designed by Adam Yarinsky *87 and Stephen Cassell ’86 of Architecture Research Office, a New York firm, the project “gives us a more graceful presence on campus,” Allen says. The addition, which faces 1879 and Marx halls, includes a two-story lobby, an elevator, stairs, and a student lounge on the top level.
Jazz has been Anthony H.P. Lee ’79’s passion since he discovered it in his father’s record collection as a youth. More Princeton students will be able to share that passion, thanks to Lee’s $4 million gift to create an endowed fund for jazz studies.
Scott Burnham, chairman of the music department, said Lee’s gift will expand the jazz program “in every conceivable direction: performance opportunities, master classes, professional residencies, and high-level disciplinary courses.”
The program is led by senior lecturer Anthony D.J. Branker ’80, a musician and conductor of the University’s jazz ensembles. Branker said the program will benefit by offering more perspectives to students, adding that it was “always a dream of mine to get to this point.”
Lee said Branker was the main reason that he decided to make his gift, saying that Branker has created a strong program that could become one of the best in the nation.
It is important to expose students to jazz “because it is an extremely creative and emotional art form that encourages and rewards freethinking, spontaneity, and risk-taking,” Lee said. “At the same time, it requires a high degree of mental discipline and analysis.”
The fund will support faculty and students in both the music department and the Center for African American Studies. Burnham said the fund will help build a bridge between the two disciplines, and said a certificate program in jazz studies has been discussed.
A math major at Princeton, Lee is a director and major shareholder of Aberon, a private-investment company. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
Hospitable habitats Less than 21 percent of the earth’s land area still contains all of the large mammal species that lived there 500 years ago, according to a study by David Wilcove *85, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs, and colleagues from Texas A&M and the World Wildlife Fund. While many of the intact assemblages are in remote areas like northern Canada, Siberia, or western Australia, a few regions with more substantial human activity, such as the Congo and Amazon basins, have managed to retain native mammal populations, according to the study, which was published in the December 2007 Journal of Mammalogy. Large mammals, whether carnivores or herbivores, play an important role in ecosystems, shaping the populations of their prey or the distribution of vegetation. But they are vulnerable to human development, changes in habitat, or “direct exploitation” through activities such as hunting, the authors write.
Cosmic fireworks Dwarf stars are dim, commonplace, and typically unremarkable, but a team of astronomers has found one extraordinary dwarf that creates “spectacular fireworks displays” of flares when its powerful magnetic fields merge and collide. The astronomers, led by Princeton postdoctoral researcher Edo Berger, observed the unusual star in the constellation Boötes, about 35 light-years from Earth, according to a release from the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii. An enormous hot spot covers half of the dwarf star’s surface and may indicate atypical activity below the surface that generates the flashy magnetic behavior, Berger said. A still-unseen companion star also could affect the dwarf’s magnetism. The team’s findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Feb. 10.
Admitting members for the first time against the backdrop of the University’s four-year residential college system, the eating clubs reported strong results from BICKER AND CLUB SIGN-INS last month. “The club system remains very healthy,” said Llewellyn Ross ’58, chairman of the Graduate Interclub Council and of Colonial Club's graduate board. Ross said that 824 students had joined one of the 10 clubs as of Feb. 14, and the number was still rising. He said club membership was higher than the previous year. “In our view, the four-year colleges have not had an impact.” Tower Club officials described the club’s 217 bickerees as the largest group in Princeton history, according to The Daily Princetonian, with 104 accepted.
Janet Dickerson, vice president for campus life, said there is greater competition for club membership, noting that there are more sophomores as enrollment increases and fewer clubs with the closing of Campus Club. Another factor, she said, may be the University’s push to offer more choices to students, including a shared-meal plan for club members who also want to join a residential college.
While the combined graduate board of Dial, Elm, and Cannon had hoped that it might be admitting members this year who would take their meals in the former CANNON CLUB, that didn’t happen. Ralph Wright ’88, treasurer of the DEC graduate board, said renovation plans are awaiting approval by the state Department of Community Affairs.
SUSAN M. TAYLOR, director of the Princeton University Art Museum since 2000, has taken a leave of absence through June 30, when her resignation will take effect. Taylor said she plans to focus on “pressing family matters and ... consider other professional opportunities.” Taylor described her tenure as “full of accomplishment,” citing the creation of new curatorial departments, exhibitions, and education programs; planning for a new structure in the University’s proposed arts neighborhood, and the completion of negotiations with the Italian government over the return of contested works of art in the museum collection. Associate director Rebecca Sender is serving as acting director while a search committee, headed by professor emeritus John Wilmerding, is at work.
Thanks to a recent acquisition of more than 800 COINS FROM MEDIEVAL GREECE minted in the eastern Mediterranean in the 13th and 14th centuries following the fall of Constantinople, students and scholars can study a time period of medieval history and its economy that has not been well documented until now. The 800 coins, called the Sarmas Collection, will be part of the University’s Numismatic Collection in Firestone Library. The largest part of the Sarmas collection features coins of the rulers of mainland Greece in the late middle ages.
W. TAYLOR REVELEY III ’65, dean of the law school at the College of William and Mary, was appointed Feb. 12 as interim president of the college after the resignation of college president Gene Nichol. Nichol, whose brief tenure was marked by controversy, stepped down after learning that he would not be reappointed by the college’s Board of Visitors. Reveley had been a finalist for the position when Nichol was appointed in 2005.
ERNEST F. JOHNSON, a longtime chemical engineering professor and an expert in process control and hazardous waste management, died Feb. 2 in Freeport, Maine. He was 89. A member of the faculty from 1948 to 1986, Johnson received numerous awards for his research and teaching. He served as chairman of the chemical engineering department, associate dean of the faculty, and senior adviser to the University president. Johnson also was associated with the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab for 31 years, receiving a patent for designing a molten salt system for first-generation fusion power plants.