Letters - April 18, 2000
Reading the Wythes Report recommendations summarized in paw (feature, March 8) was a great disappointment. The committee's aim was to chart Princeton's future for the next quarter-century. Yet its main conclusions, to build more buildings and enlarge the resident undergraduate body, would make Princeton an even bigger buggy-whip maker in the cyberspace age.
The committee seems not to have understood that the world is changing, in at least two relevant ways. First, Internet-related technologies threaten the economics of four-year residential colleges. As Princeton raises its tuition and fees to an astounding $32,636, new interactive technologies make possible lectures and precepts live on the Internet at virtually no cost.
Second, college can no longer be the end of education. Increasingly people will need-and demand-one or more mid-
career repottings, or even changes of field and focus. Alumni Colleges are but a tiny hint of what will be needed as nearly everyone seeks to update their expertise or expand their knowledge throughout life. This will be a major new market for education.
Princeton simply cannot survive doing more of what it has always done. The cost will be too great, and with increasing alternatives the demand will rapidly decline. It's a pity the committee did not truly rethink and reinvent Princeton for the new century.
Peter Vanderwicken '61
With respect to the Wythes Report, I suggest that one "overarching principle" be used: How to best preserve and enhance the Princeton undergraduate experience while continuing to attract the finest students and teachers to the institution.
Princeton today is the finest undergraduate institution in the world. Its success has nothing to do with the metrics of teachers' salaries, number of Rhodes Scholars, student-teacher ratios, endowment funding, or Ford Foundation grants. The success of the institution is due to the quality of the current student body, faculty, and younger alumni, empowered and nurtured by the trustees and school administration.
The committee did not include any students, faculty, or enough younger alumni as members. (Only two of the committee's 10 members graduated in the last 20 years.) The committee apparently made no effort to determine the reason why current students and faculty selected Princeton over the "competition."
For me, the quality that differentiates Princeton from the Harvards and Stanfords is that the focus placed on an undergraduate educational experience permits a limited number of students to pursue a wide array of high quality options on a very personal basis.
The report fails to address the fact that an increase in the size of the student body will diminish the opportunities for students to participate in and lead the undergraduate community, diminish the opportunity for individual students to work with select faculty members, and diminish the chances of establishing those all-important connections that separate a great undergraduate experience from a miserable one.
With regard to the faculty, Toni Morrison selected Princeton as a place to teach because she could work directly with undergraduates. Through her work as a teacher, she has had more of an impact upon applications, acceptances, and student involvement than any other member of the Princeton community in the past 50 years. The energy she has created has infused us all with new enthusiasm. But, for all her greatness, there is only one Toni Morrison, and increasing the number of students on campus by 400 cannot help but further impair access to her.
These qualitative issues may have been considered and not mentioned by the committee. If so, I would like to hear more about them. Otherwise, my challenge to President Shapiro, the committee, and the Board of Trustees is this: Commission a study group of younger alumni, faculty, and students to prepare an independent set of recommendations.
Ronald K. Perkowski '77
I have read both the summary of committee recommendations for paw (feature, February 23) and the text of the committee's proposals, dated January 7, 2000, which is found on Princeton's Web site. Frankly, I am concerned, as I am sure many other alumni will be.
While I read about the guarantees of editorial independence for the editor, I also note that he/she will continue to be a university employee, and his/her selection, editorial supervision, and firing will be controlled by a small group of carefully appointed paw board members. Of even more concern, once hired, the editor will in reality be responsible (or at the mercy of) a "committee of three," one of whom is a university employee (the executive director of the Alumni Council) and the other two (chair and vice chair of the paw board) who are from the "carefully selected" paw board. I would prefer to see the supervision, in fact ownership, of paw, be vested in the executive committee of the Alumni Council. I consider it essential that the editorial independence of paw be maintained, and I am concerned that as more of the financial burden is assumed by the university, it will be tempted to exercise editorial control, which should be with the alumni.
Even more worrisome is the statement in the paw summary that another committee is reviewing "the magazine's frequency-it currently publishes 17 issues a year-with an understanding that some reduction could be put in place beginning this fall."
What's the rush? The alumni survey will undoubtedly indicate that the alumni overwhelmingly want to retain 17 issues (some probably would like more), and the administration now claims to support a retention of this frequency. Possibly the timing should change. For example, the elimination of a second December issue could be replaced by a mid-summer issue (to assure us that the university is still thriving and our classmates are doing well).
Finally, a suggestion how all these problems of independence, control, expense to classes, and frequency of publication can be solved with one simple action. We need one or two alumni who will endow paw in perpetuity . . . $10-12 million will do it nicely . . . and thereby guarantee that generation after generation of Princetonians will receive news of their university and their classmates 17 times a year . . . for ever and ever. What a legacy to leave behind!
In these prosperous times, when some alumni are achieving new financial apexes, I hope my prayers will be answered.
Thomas P. Wolf '48
Accolades for Alumni Day
Saturday, February 26, I had the pleasure and honor to attend Alumni Day, a special occasion for me because it was also a centennial reunion of the graduate school.
I enjoyed the lecture "The Surprising History of the Graduate School" by J. T. Miller '70.
I came to Princeton in September 1951 as a graduate student, armed with an A.B. from Columbia College at Columbia University. I spent 41/2 years at Princeton. At Columbia I was in the numerically small and intimate college, and at Princeton I was in the numerically small and intimate graduate school. I had the best of both worlds.
Best wishes to Princeton in this centennial year of the graduate school.
Arthur L. Thomas *56
Hot plates and pot pies
The short item from the February 22, 1946, issue (100 Years of paw, Feburary 9) rang a bell. My wife, Shirley, and I returned to Princeton in February 1946 to resume studies. We were lucky enough to get two small rooms in Brown Hall. (The 1946 article omitted mention of Brown as a home for married students.) We were able to stay there until August, when our daughter, Dianne, was born at Princeton Hospital. In late fall we were among the first families to move in at the Harrison Street Project, where we lived until graduation in February 1948.
The 1946 paw article stated that the major inadequacy of dormitory housing for married students was a place to cook. In Brown Hall we didn't let that stand in our way. A double hot plate served quite well as a cooking surface.
We kept our perishables in a camping cooler with a hose and bucket to catch the melted ice. Shirley cooked first-rate pies, baked potatoes, and small pork roasts using an oven made from a large inverted cottage-cheese can placed over a raised wire platform on one of the hot-plate elements. Occasionally too many residents tried to cook at the same time, which blew the fuses. Then we would carry the hot plate to the nearest john and continue with the meal. (The bathrooms were on another circuit.)
Privacy was never a problem. Second- and fourth-floor bathrooms were for the women and first and third for the men. The ladies would lounge on lawn chairs in the courtyard on sunny days while we men attended classes or studied. It was a great life after three years with Uncle Sam.
Dan Stauffer '46
That Rutgers game
The 6-6 tie in football between Princeton and Rutgers took place in 1974, my senior year, not 1975 (Letters, February 23).
Princeton trailed, 6-0, and had the ball at midfield with two and a half minutes to play when a large group of Rutgers fans knocked down the snow-fence barricade on the visitor's side of Palmer Stadium. This group overwhelmed the security staff and tore down the goal posts near the open end of the field, toward Jadwin Gym.
While attention was focused at that end, a smaller group of Rutgers fans, about two dozen, suddenly ran the length of the field to the closed end of the field and quickly tore down its goal posts. When play resumed, Princeton marched toward the closed end and scored a touchdown with about half a minute to go. Princeton's coaches asked permission to erect a new goal post, having a spare under the stands. The referee said no.
Princeton's coaches asked to have two groups of cheerleaders stand on one another's shoulders, as if they were goal posts, then hold a bar between them at the correct height for the crossbar. The referee said no. Princeton's coaches asked to move the extra-point attempt to the practice field between the stadium and the gym. The referee said no. Princeton reluctantly tried a two-point conversion, which failed, and the game ended in the tie.
By midweek, the NCAA issued an emergency directive that henceforth all host schools would have two sets of spare goal posts on hand at all times, and must be able to erect them within 10 minutes if the original goal posts were torn down before game's end. The rule was made official after the 1974 season and remains in effect.
John Wilheim '75
A recent letter to the paw spoke of "jogging a bitter memory" of the 1974 Rutgers game. Let me share my version of the story. The halftime show of the marching band that historic afternoon consisted, in part, of a striptease to a bump-and-grind accompaniment. I was a member of the band and wore shorts under my trousers; we stormed the field in our usual undisciplined fashion and proceeded to disrobe. At some point, a high-flying shoe caught me above the eye, and blood began to pour profusely down my face. (Later I would be asked whether it was a war wound from the later scuffle.) After finishing the number, I was taken to the infirmary, where I was given a bag of ice and told no doctors were available and would not be so until after the game. (I ultimately received three stitches.) I spent the next hour huddled by a radio listening to the secondhand reports, while hearing the crowd from the window. I had been there, missed history in the making, but I still have a scar to remember it by.
Dave Caprera '75
Early to bed, early to class
The On The Campus column in the March 8 issue should provoke a number of letters from engineering student alumni, mostly along the lines of, "In my day we walked five miles to school through ice and snow," etc. Did your columnist talk to any engineering students, or maybe today even the engineers get off easy?
As freshmen, not only did we have classes convening at 7:40 a.m. three days a week, but also Saturday morning classes, also at 7:40 a.m. My three A.B. roommates took my early wakening as charitably as they could. Only as sophomores could most of us B.S.E.s avoid 7:40s, though we had to settle for 8:40s maybe three times a week.
Robert F. Ringland '58
Del Mar, Calif.
I read with concern the lamentation about early morning classes. At the considered risk of telling a tedious "in my day" story and sounding like one of those troglodytes I abhor, I remember well my freshman calculus class that met Saturday mornings at 7:40. While this weekly event was no great joy, neither was it an undue burden. I thought at the time "This is one of the lessons I am here to learn: How It Is Is Not How I Want It To Be." That valuable lesson has stood me in good stead throughout my life; in fact, it was more valuable than anything I might have chanced to learn in the calculus class.
These were routine classes, at least for underclassmen, and we even trekked up to Commons for breakfast before them (sometimes). Classes at 8:40 a.m. were also routine, and I learned the value of waking up early to a brand-new unused day full of possibilities to get my thoughts in order before going forth.
It seems to me entirely appropriate to use the best part of the day and to insist upon recognizing its value. Lessons are learned in many ways, not only through the content of a given course. Staying up late and sleeping in late is of little value in the real world.
Dick Limoges '60
I laughed at the lament about moving up the starting time for classes to 8:30 a.m. "When men were men" back in the 1940s, classes started at 7:40, even on Mondays.
Joseph Neff Ewing, Jr. '47
West Chester, Pa.
Don't announce the famous
I agree with Jon Murphy '57 with regard to the handling of the P-rade announcements (Letters, March 8). First, I think one of the main reasons that Princeton reunions are so successful at bringing back old grads is the tradition of having class costumes. This means that you can't tell the difference between the fabulously successful and those only moderately successful. We don't need an announcer to call attention to the distinctions between us. Second, there are many in all classes, but particularly 1952, who haven't made the pages of The New York Times but are as deserving of special attention as those who have. Please, let's scrap this procedure before it becomes a tradition.
On another reunion note, for many years I looked forward to hearing the Nassoons in Blair Arch on Friday night. However I have stopped going because of the screaming of the listeners at the beginning of each selection. I find it very distracting and unbecoming. I'm there for the music and not for the noise created by the claque.
Thomas F. Daubert '52
Melrose Park, Pa.
PIAF would like to solicit contributions, internship/placement ideas, and other suggestions for growth of the program from individuals and related groups. For example, the International Rescue Committee, of which an alumnus is an officer, has donated three year-long internships. The Class of 1969 Community Service Fund (CSF) is providing for an intern this summer and interim funding for part-time PIAF staff. There may be other classes with a desire for greater community service involvement, but who have limited funds or organizational structure, so we ask that class leaders consider class donations. Please contact PIAF at Piaf@princeton.edu, or c/o Seva Kramer, Center for Civic Leadership, 32 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ 08542. Contributions may be made to "Princeton University" directed for restricted use by Princeton-In-Africa.
Frank Strasburger '67
Jim Floyd '69
The Princeton Women's Networks are valuable organizations that broaden the way Princetonians connect with each other and that bring many Princeton women into alumni activities for the first time.
The newest addition, Princeton Women's Network of Washington, D.C., was created this fall and has events scheduled throughout the spring. For more information, contact Stephanie Blackburn '97 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-812-4570; or Colleen Shanahan '98 at email@example.com or 202-232-6833.
Colleen Shanahan '98
Of beds and baths
I enjoyed the profile of Bryan Bell '83 in the February 9 issue. It's inspiring to see someone apply his Princeton education in such a worthwhile manner.
The article did contain one small piece of misinformation, however. It stated that "Mexicans don't feel the same need as most Americans to have bedrooms and bathrooms tucked away in private locations in a house." Actually, middle- and upper-class Mexicans do indeed prefer to have their bedrooms and bathrooms "tucked away." It's a custom that most Anglos and Hispanics have in common.
The article was absolutely correct in its second cultural observation, though: It is a lot harder to cook tamales (or anything else, in my opinion) on an electric stove.
Celia Hanna Nuñez '85
Caldwell's miss brings in Gehrig
Mention of Charlie Caldwell '25's baseball prowess in the Class of 1925's column (February 23) prompts this recollection of his inadvertent contribution to major league history.
As a New York Yankee rookie pitcher in 1925, he was shagging flies when one of his relay throws from the outfield struck Wally Pipp, Yankee first baseman and cleanup hitter, in the head. The resulting headache earned Pipp an afternoon off, and he was replaced by a young Columbia University product named Lou Gehrig.
Pipp never got his job back. Caldwell's errant throw launched Gehrig's 14-year streak of starting 2,130 major league games.
Dick Gordon '33
St. Paul, Minn.
Bye, bye, Bill
Dollar Bill Bradley, we're sorry for you,
those primary colors turned black and then blue,
Big Al gored you badly, he showed you
maybe you shoulda just stayed back in
old jocks say it's done when the fat lady
and sweet, Two-Ton Tessie is there in
so pick up the round ball and head back
Al's riding the range and he's raring to
but tired as you are now, think about this:
the Gore man might pick you for Veep.
Campaigning is hectic but if you're elected
you end up with four years of sleep.
Edward C. Nykwest '66
Where have you gone, Marilyn?
Nice try, '77. The first member of the All-Marilyn, All-Century Team should be Marilyn Machlowitz, of the Great Class of 1974. Another first for the Stars in Stripes.
Andy Cowherd '74
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