Class Notes - September 8, 1999

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Class notes features

Charles P. "Pete" Conrad '53, the third man to walk on the Moon, died July 8 from internal bleeding several hours after a motorcycle accident in California. Conrad, shown posing in front of lunar-excursion equipment, studied aeronautical engineering at Princeton. After joining the Navy in 1953, he became an astronaut in 1962. His feats included circling the Earth for eight days in 1965 on Gemini 5; reaching an altitude record on Gemini 11; spending seven hours and 45 minutes on the Moon's surface with Alan L. Bean for the Apollo 12 mission, which he led in 1969; and setting a record 28 days in space as commander of Skylab 2, the first manned space station.


The joy of giving back
Martin Dale '53 helps students' dreams to flower

Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." Martin A. Dale '53 is a prime example of what he meant.

Dale, a resident of Incline Village, Nevada, and Longboat Key, Florida, has endowed programs that allow Princeton students and recent graduates to spend a summer or a year pursuing projects close to their hearts. In place since 1992, the summer awards provide students entering their junior year with $3,000. This summer, 10 took advantage of the grants, for example, to master traditional sewing and quilting, produce a gospel CD, and teach English in Egypt.

"My original idea," says Dale, "was that the summer awards would enable students to probe some talent or vocation besides what they were pursuing academically, which may have been suggested by a parent or mentor, to give them a chance to find within themselves some other interests."

In addition to endowing the summer awards, Dale planned to leave money in his will to create a postgraduate fellowship program. But he so enjoyed "having a fingerprint on the lives of these totally extraordinary people" that he decided to initiate the program "while I was still alive."

Established in 1997, the $20,000 annual fellowships have underwritten three projects. Cyrus Etemad '97 used his grant to document in text and photographs abandoned military sites for a possible book and exhibition. Mora Stephens '98 used hers to turn a short story she wrote about a homeless girl into a film.

This year's winner, Chinese national Fei Fei Li '99, is traveling to Tibet to study the relationship between western health care and traditional folk medicine.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Dale attended Princeton on a William H. Cane Scholarship, earned a master's at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and served as the U.S. diplomatic representative to nearby Monaco.

Now 67 and semiretired (he's a consultant for several multinational corporations), he enjoys giving his money away. As for his second wife, Lee, and his four children, two of whom (Charles '78 and Gregory '81) attended Princeton, "It's not my philosophy to leave them significant sums even if I had it. The expectation of a large inheritance has destroyed a lot of people-I was truly advantaged having to make my own way."

He believes that people should do as he does, tithe. "You don't have to be wealthy, or have lots of spare cash, or give money for a building or an endowed professorship to make the gesture of giving back. These awards I give are the major accomplishment of my life. Nothing touches me as truly significant other than the influence, small as it may be, I will have had on so many young people. I just do my little pollinating and know that the flowers are blooming."

-Leslie Aldridge Westoff

Psychological autopsy
Forensic psychiatrist Harold Bursztajn '72 acknowledges ambiguity in lawsuits

Two malpractice suits involving informed consent show how forensic psychiatrist Harold Bursztajn '72, M.D., evaluates complex situations. In one, Meador v. Stahler and Gheridian, Bursztajn testified in favor of a woman who had a Caesarean-section procedure against her wishes, followed by serious complications. She had signed a consent form, but Bursztajn, associate clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, argued that her doctors in fact did not get her informed consent. A jury awarded her $1.5 million. In another case, Drewry v. Harwell, he testified in favor of a doctor who performed what a patient came to consider an unwanted hysterectomy and abortion after she had given informed consent. In this episode, a "psychological autopsy" of the decisions made by the patient and doctor convinced Bursztajn that the doctor had acted properly. A jury agreed unanimously.

Two cases, similar issues, but Bursztajn followed the facts and context in different directions. In the first case he supported a patient's right to make health-care choices, while in the second he protected a doctor's ability to make choices given a patient's consent.

"If we don't have informed consent both as a clinical practice standard and a potential defense, we don't have a respect for persons that's necessary for medical practice," he explains. Evidence, rather than ideology, guides him in these and other aspects of his work; sometimes he is retained by the plaintiff, sometimes by the defense.

Bursztajn describes his work as "not helping people win but achieving a just resolution by my ability to be both effective and ethical at the same time. My job is to go beyond the adversarial relationship and try to understand a case deeply enough so that ambiguity can be acknowledged and people can reach a settlement." A vast majority of cases on which he consults are settled before going to trial. (Bursztajn's Website,, defines a forensic psychiatrist as "a physician who integrates clinical experience, knowledge of medicine, mental health, and the neurosciences to form an independent, objective opinion.")

At a December speech at Harvard before 300 doctors, Bursztajn urged the audience to maintain "mutual respect" with patients even under trying circumstances, and guard against unconscious "abandonment" of patients by not returning their phone calls or being late for appointments, for example. Besides respect, justice is another concept that Bursztajn often mentions. He credits his "love of freedom and justice" to his parents, Polish Jews who were surviving members of the Resistance in the Lodz ghetto. Twice, he recalls, ghetto doctors saved his father's life, and their actions strongly influenced Bursztajn's career choices and perspective.

The family moved from Poland to New Jersey in 1959. At Princeton Bursztajn was a University Scholar and wrote his thesis on Wittgenstein and Husserl. He attended Harvard Medical School, and now serves as codirector of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law at the Harvard Medical School Department at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. Bursztajn maintains a private practice in Cambridge as a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and primary care physician. His wife, Patricia Illingworth, J.D., is a professor of ethics at Northeastern University and they have an eight-year-old daughter, Zoe, whom he describes as "both a wonderful joy and a teacher."

-Van Wallach '80

From Apples to Zen
Jane Hirshfield '73 talks about her poetry with Bill Moyers on a PBS special

The Poet

She is working now, in a room

not unlike this one,

the one where I write, or you read.

Her table is covered with paper.

The light of the lamp would be

tempered by a shade, where the bulb's

single harshness might dissolve,

but it is not, she has taken it off.

Her poems? I will never know them,

though they are the ones I most need.

Even the alphabet she writes in

I cannot decipher. Her chair-

Let us imagine whether it is leather

or canvas, vinyl or wicker. Let her

have a chair, her shadeless lamp,

the table. Let one or two she loves

be in the next room. Let the door

be closed, the sleeping ones healthy.

Let her have time, and silence,

enough paper to make mistakes and go on.

-Jane Hirschfield

As a senior at Princeton, Jane Hirshfield '73 won a student poetry competition sponsored by The Nation and, as her prize, had one of her poems published in the magazine. She might have tried to cash in on the honor by applying quickly for the graduate school fellowships that could have launched a full-time teaching career.

Instead, Hirshfield spent the next year working as a laborer on a farm in Rocky Hill, New Jersey, driving a tractor and harvesting apples, peaches, and pumpkins. Not exactly the expected path for an academic star who finished Princeton in three years.

Hirshfield has no regrets about her year of getting dirty. She loved forging what she calls the "connection to the earth" that eluded her during her childhood in Lower Manhattan. Establishing that link gave her something in common with the generations of lyric poets for whom land has served as an eloquent muse-most notably, in recent years, the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

Over the past several decades, Hirshfield has taken other professional gambles. She spent eight years as a full-time student of Zen Buddhism and, perhaps most daringly, avoided the tenure-track teaching career that has become the primary means by which serious American poets support themselves.

All those risks have paid off for Hirshfield, a resident of Mill Valley, California. At 46, she has written an essay collection and four books of poetry that include The Lives of the Heart (HarperCollins, 1997) and Alaya (The Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series, 1982). She has also edited Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (HarperCollins, 1994), an anthology that has sold more than 35,000 copies, remarkable for a book of poetry in the 1990s. And she deserves part of the credit for two of the best-selling books on spirituality of the 1990s, Thomas Moore's The Care of the Soul and Soul Mates, which she worked on as a free-lance (or, as she prefers, "outside") editor.

This month Hirshfield collects another honor. She joins two dozen poets (including Galway Kinnell '48 and Paul Muldoon, director of the Creative Writing Program at the university) who will read from and talk about their work on "Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers," which airs Sunday, Sept. 26, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on PBS. At an undetermined date later this year Moyers will host a series of nine half-hour programs that will include other conversations with some of the poets, all filmed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey.

Poets often shy away from such appearances on television, viewing them as a distraction from their work. But Hirshfield speaks enthusiastically about "Fooling with Words," which she hopes will draw people back to lyric poetry and its great themes of love, loss, and transience.

"Lyric poetry records our fidelity to the life of this earth," she says, "even as we know that it will inevitably be lost."

-Janice Harayda


Renovating an inner city
John Hatch '84 cares about Trenton's future

When John Hatch '84 was an undergraduate majoring in architecture at Princeton, he saw no reason to go to New Jersey's capital, despite its proximity. Today he is a leader in the restoration of one of Trenton's historic neighborhoods and in the city's redevelopment through promotion of the arts.

Not long after completing his master's in architecture at the University of Virginia, Hatch found the combination of work he sought-"preservation, work in cities, and good design"-in the Trenton architecture firm Clarke Caton Hintz. Now a senior associate with the firm, he has worked on projects as varied as the city's minor league baseball park and the redevelopment of the defunct Roebling steel factory complex.

When he first looked for housing in Trenton in 1988, Hatch, who grew up in Brooklyn, admits that "at first, all I could see were the negatives." His second impression was far more positive: he found neighborhoods such as the Mill Hill Historic District, right in the shadow of the Mercer County courthouse and state government buildings. Several spurts of restoration efforts in the previous two decades had made a start, but by the late 1980s momentum in Mill Hill had flagged.

After living in an apartment in Mill Hill, Hatch and fellow architect David Henderson decided to buy a rundown century-old rowhouse in the neighborhood and restore it themselves. Their victories over collapsing walls and caved-in ceilings cemented their commitment to Mill Hill.

 In 1995, when the city announced plans to raze a dilapidated Mill Hill rowhouse on which it had foreclosed, Hatch, Henderson, and Mike and Debbie Raab, also Mill Hill residents, foreseeing an unattractive gap as well as a dangerous precedent, incorporated as Atlantis Historic Properties and persuaded the city to sell them that property and three others. Hatch and his partners restored and sold all four properties, and they continue to work the same magic on other dilapidated houses.

 Hatch's latest project, Trenton Makes, is a partnership with Henderson and yet another Mill Hill neighbor, Roland Pott. This second development company is renovating several historic buildings in downtown Trenton to create an arts center complex incorporating a cafe, bookstore, performance space, galleries, and offices. The first phase of the project, the Urban Word Cafe, opened six months ago.

Hatch sees these two projects in Trenton as "a small thing in the overall picture" of the city but emphasizes that "part of our purpose is to let people know about Trenton. One of the problems with cities, I think," he says, "is that too often people look at them as places to get something out of."

-A. Melissa Kiser '75


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