Letters - May 17, 2000
Hammering out your own path
Thirty-seven years ago in the fall I sat in Alexander Hall and listened to the welcoming dean tell the Class of 1967 how extraordinarily accomplished we all were. Then he made a very odd statement: "You are all doomed to success."
I remember being irritated at his arrogance in predicting my life's path, and troubled by his irony. Why would he paint "success" in such bleak colors? Over the years I've come to realize that a pedigree from a great university can be both a blessing and a burden. But gradually I learned that there are other destinations besides the one envisioned by the wise and ancient dean many years ago. And that is why the smiling face of John Kemp '72 on the cover of the March 8 paw, doing just what I love to do-restore old houses-made me cheer. Congratulations to all the Princetonians who are defining success in their own terms.
Charlie McMillan '67
Newton Centre, Mass.
Thank you for validating the nine years of my life between Princeton and law school. During that time I repaired boat engines, delivered Italian bread, and taught auto mechanics in a trade school. I would feel pangs of inadequacy when I would read the class notes telling the stories of my classmates as they blazed new trails as captains of industry and world leaders. At last I can take comfort in the knowledge that I'm not the only Princetonian who discovered that it's better to come home at the end of the day feeling tired than feeling used.
Having worked in the "real" world also gives me a better perspective on what's really involved in building a house, fixing a car, or just "earning a living." That knowledge helps me every day in my current career as a referee in matrimonial court. I would strongly suggest that all Princeton students complete their educations by spending at least a part of their early careers doing some manual labor. The best architects know how to build houses as well as visualize them; the most talented engineers can run the equipment they design; and some of the greatest leaders have come from the ranks of "ordinary" men and women.
Brava, Ms. Greenwood! Thanks to your article, our 25th reunion (coming up in 2001) will truly feel like a homecoming.
James A. Montagnino '76
White Plains, N.Y.
I was delighted to read "Hammering Out a Living" by Kathryn Federici Greenwood (cover story, March 8). I am a graduate of Bryn Mawr, while my significant other is Robert Beiswinger '70.
Bob has been a woodworker for 30 years. He is expert in all phases of construction, from framing and finish carpentry to very fine woodworking. His museum-quality furniture has graced Fine Woodworking's anthologies. He and his colleague are currently giving new life to a historic ice-cream parlor in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
I write you because it is Bob's integrity, attention to detail, and capacity to problem-solve that caught my attention when I met him 23 years ago. His somewhat unconventional use of his Princeton education inspired me similarly to follow what had heart and meaning for me. I left a career in public relations writing to become a massage therapist and bodyworker. Without Bob's example of earning a living in the manner of an artist I would not have had the courage or the vision to do the same.
Though Bob's and my own superb college educations are being applied in nontraditional ways, I am confident that in large measure our success derives from our academic foundations. I was happy to read of other Princeton graduates on similar paths.
Linda H. Foster s'70
Cape May, N.J.
Concern for paw
It is ironic that you would highlight paw's motto, "An Independent Magazine by Alumni for Alumni," on your April 5 cover, just when the magazine seems to be putting itself under the thumb of the university. As director of Princeton University Press from 1954 to 1986 I was the publisher of paw, with concern for its financial well-being and its editorial quality and independence. In those days the magazine was really controlled and paid for by alumni. It had an editorial board of five experienced alumni writers and editors, three appointed by the Alumni Council and two by the trustees of the Press. The practice of inviting the university's vice president for public affairs to attend meetings began with the venerable Ed Gemmell, who always stated the university point of view with appropriate diffidence; he was a guest, and he did not have a vote. He appreciated the value to the university of an uncensored voice from alumni, though he sometimes disagreed with paw's stance. The ex-officio status of the vice president has been adopted since paw left the umbrella of the Press (which itself is an independent corporation); it was a bad idea.
One of my tasks as publisher was to assist in hiring editors. Paw staff were employees of the Press, not the university. We have had a succession of excellent editors; would they have wanted the job if they thought their independence might be in doubt?
What paw says is important to the university, and the university should have a place to make its own case in the magazine. It has such a place; it is "The President's Page." In previous administrations the president usually delegated this page to a member of the administration or faculty, to explain a program or a controversial policy. The president wrote under his own name only a few times a year. This seemed to work well.
Though sometimes critical, paw was always friendly to the university, as was to be expected. Paw's independence made it all the more effective when a group of disaffected alumni formed an opposition publication, criticizing the university in the harshest terms and encouraging alumni to withhold gifts-all of which was reported in paw. This would have been impossible if paw had been an instrument of the university, or was seen as such.
At one point, when our pocketbooks were hurting, the Press and Alumni Council appointed a business advisory committee for paw, a group of alumni publishing executives meeting in New York. They made many helpful suggestions. We adopted a new formula for subscription rates for the classes, with appropriate adjustments every year depending on the years-out and number of members in the classes. It was then a firm policy that classes subscribed as units, so that every alumnus would automatically receive paw unless he asked to be removed from the list. I cannot believe that today's alumni, in this prosperous decade, are unable or unwilling to support an independent paw. If that is so, Princeton is slipping.
My other work at the Press gave me insights into many universities, and I believe that Princeton is the best-administered university in the nation. Best in other ways too. And it has the most loyal alumni, with the best alumni magazine, one of the very few that are genuinely independent. The university puts out excellent publications, but they are university publications, not alumni publications. If we are to have a real alumni magazine, let's keep paw independent, editorially and financially.
Herbert S. Bailey, Jr. '42
President's Page in paw
I am sure that one of the best college presidents in the country needs no defense from me. I must say, however, that I was saddened by two recent letters attacking Harold Shapiro's President's Page. One of the letters suggested that the president confine himself to administrative matters. My own feeling would be that a college president who only administers and raises money, without exerting intellectual and moral leadership, is hardly a president at all. Surely it is one of the tragedies of modem academia that presidents are so overburdened with management and money raising.
I salute Harold Shapiro for resisting these pressures and providing us with thoughtful and informative columns. I hope you continue to give him a place of honor in each issue.
Robert L. Edwards '37
West Hartford, Conn.
Helping around the world
Your article by Rob Garver, "Service Without Borders" in the March 22 issue (cover story) was an inspiration to me.
It shows that Princeton is making a very real difference in today's world. And what is even more important, it is making it in the simplest of ways-caring for the oppressed, the poor, and the forgotten.
Congratulations to paw for the article and to all the young people mentioned as well as to others unknown to us who are doing equally wonderful work, here at home or abroad!
It makes me proud to be a Princetonian.
Forrest C. Eggleston '42
Upon my return from a missionary expedition to the Côte d'Ivoire this week I found my March 22 paw in the mail.
I want to say, "Me, too."
Two weeks after graduation from Princeton in 1958 I was on a plane-they had propellers in those days-to Liberia, where I started what has been a lifelong association with Holy Cross Mission. The mission was founded in 1922 by the Order of the Holy Cross, a monastic order for men in the Episcopal Church. In 1984 the order moved its West African work to Ghana, and I became chairman of the mission's board of American and European trustees.
The last two American expatriate missionaries were evacuated from the Liberian mission by bush plane just prior to the civil war in 1989. With many of the war refugees settling in adjoining countries, some of the trustees have made frequent visits (at our own expense) to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and especially to the Côte d'Ivoire. I was also able to get into Liberia on several occasions during the war.
About 200,000 people, one-tenth of the population of the country, were killed in the war-virtually all civilians. The seemingly endless brutality resulted in the destruction of the few electric systems, water utilities, and roads that had existed in this exceedingly poor country, and even today Monrovia, with a population of nearly a million people, does not have running water, electricity, toilets, street lights, and similar amenities.
Early in the war the Episcopal Refugee Outreach Ministry (EROM) was established at Danane, one of two principal refugee centers in the Côte d'Ivoire. The United Nations estimates that there are 25,000 to 30,000 Liberians living in exile at Danane-greater than the number of Ivorians. Most of those refugees are in the Cote d'Ivoire on a long-term basis, very likely for the rest of their lives, and this ministry is one of the very few NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) that has remained since the resolution of the civil war in 1997. EROM uses support from the U.S. for emergency food distributions, a small medical clinic, housing assistance, scholarships for refugee children, assistance to war orphans and abandoned children, agricultural projects, vocational training, and a full schedule of religious activities.
E. Christopher Cone '58
More money, more students
The Wythes Report recommending increasing Princeton's student body by 500 and adding a sixth residential college and a new dorm was predictable and sad. The administration acts as all bureaucracies or governments do when faced with budget surpluses.
The U.S. and United Kingdom governments find themselves with rising tax revenues due to the raging growth in securities markets and have decided to use these revenues, while touting fiscal austerity, to increase spending by 3-4 percent adjusted for inflation in the U.S., and 4-5 percent in real terms in the U.K., the highest increase since 1975! Similarly, Princeton has raised tuition well beyond the inflation rate for decades and finds itself with a growing, securities-market-driven endowment of $6.5 billion. (While increasing tuition to the current unbelievable numbers, it further expands its bureaucracy by creating new financial aid packages annually!)
It was predictable that, over time, the university's bureaucracy would act as governments have and find a way to expand their role and size of their mandate. They justify the increases in size by speaking of "moral obligations to make resources available to more students" and how it is "self- financing." In my opinion, this is a case of growth for growth's sake, or as one Wall Street Journal columnist recently described the governments' actions, it is the "giddy politics of surpluses."
One week before reading the issue of paw in which this plan was outlined, I was skiing with a friend who graduated from Harvard in 1987. With dozens of friends from both schools, he gave me an unbiased view of the undergraduate experience and alumni camaraderie when he said there is no comparison between his school and mine. Princeton's size and campus make it unique in the Ivy League, and its alumni are closer friends through the years because of it.
As long as the endowment's portfolio is rising, and there is the opportunity to increase tuition to bolster the budget, I cynically expect the university's staff to do everything they can to pave over the entire campus with new architectural monstrosities and increase the size of the school until the Princeton experience is alien to its alumni.
Still contributing to Annual Giving, for now.
Andrew M. Keller '87
Forbes, freedom, and funds
Regarding the Singer-Forbes imbroglio, a university must be a place for discussion of all relevant issues, no matter how sensitive and challenging and how fraught with emotion. I think it is marvelous that Princeton attracted Peter Singer, an immensely talented bioethicist. I do not always agree with him, but two of his books that I have read (Rethinking Life and Death and Practical Ethics) are scholarly and first-rate.
As to Steve Forbes '70, his actions are disappointing. His proper move, I think, would have been to resign on principle, not to bludgeon the university with his heavy wallet. I knew his father fairly well in college, and am saddened by the son.
The letters in the March 8 issue of paw suggest that many alumni yearn for the intellectual comfort of a theocracy. I, for one, believe that whatever the Almighty is, he/she expects us to decide for ourselves how best to deal with human life, both at its beginning and at its end.
John T. Farrar '43
I read with increasing dismay the litany of letters defending the position of Steve Forbes '70 in withholding contributions to the university, and the letter from Allen L. Griffith '60 (March 8) finally prompted my response with his boast of having not contributed for years.
If "a rugby-playing member of Tiger Inn" defines a stereotype, then I might be described as its living embodiment. And I would suggest that you would be hard-pressed to find an alumnus more often on the opposite side of the university's policy decisions.
Despite these differences, I continue to contribute wholeheartedly, albeit dwarfed by the generosity of other members of my class. Princeton's excellence made my experience there a defining one, but we would be foolish to think that money is not what makes that excellence possible. I contribute so future undergraduates will have the same opportunity, and I do so in the full knowledge that their Princeton experience will be, by definition, different from mine. My only regret is that this motivation has yet to make me one of Mr. Griffith's "big men on campus."
It's ironic that the actions of Mr. Forbes are being defended by so many conservative alumni. If you had any real contact with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), you came to understand that it was their avowed intention, not to change our institutions, but to destroy them. Withholding contributions will more surely destroy the excellence at Princeton than any of the antics tried by SDS. Forbes's actions seem motivated by heartfelt conviction. However, the "excuse" of Mr. Griffith, undoubtedly motivated by something as significant as the elimination of the chapel requirement, is an example of self-centered miserliness.
The only benefit of Forbes's withholding is that the reunion contribution records set by the Class of 1969 will stand a little longer. Without Steve, we will crush the rest of the "bugs" in the Class of 1970.
Ted Webber '69
I avoided comment on Steve Forbes '70, the trustees, and Professor Singer so long as Forbes was a presidential candidate, but now that he has terminated his candidacy I am prompted to respond to the several alumni who have praised him for "courage."
Forbes has the right to make or to withhold contributions to Princeton as he chooses. He also has the right to advise the university authorities of his reasons for not making his usual contributions, although I believe that he and the other alumni who state publicly that "I've given my last nickel to Princeton until . . . " demonstrate poor taste.
But, so long as he remains a trustee, Forbes has a fiduciary responsibility which requires that he act solely in the interest of the university, and that he not make public statements which might interfere with the university's fundraising. He may present his complaints to the trustees as vigorously as he can, but if he then wants to "go public" he should resign his position as trustee.
To my way of thinking, Forbes has demonstrated not so much courage as arrogance. The trustees acted properly in reprimanding him. The university is to be commended for its refusal to bow to threats of the kind he has made.
Charles B. Blackmar '42
It seems to me that the five contributors in the March 8 issue (Letters) who support Mr. Forbes object to some or all of Professor Singer's premises, logic, or conclusions to such a degree that these should be barred from discussion.
-Utilitarianism as a basis for ethics may be defective, but can't it be discussed?
-Perhaps there should be no objection to the unnecessary killing of animals, but can't this be discussed?
-Perhaps one should not give up a substantial portion of one's income to help less fortunate people in other parts of the world, but can't it be discussed?
-Perhaps there are some who believe that human life is not sacred; can they not be heard?
-Perhaps the Oregon euthanasia laws are wrong, but cannot they even be discussed?
-Perhaps New Jersey's law that permits Living Wills is wrong, but can't it be discussed?
-Perhaps killing an infant instantly if it will otherwise die slowly and painfully is not right, but can't we discuss it?
-Perhaps giving only parents, never the State, the right to kill infants in very limited circumstances can never be right, but can't it be discussed?
It seems to me that were Forbes a trustee of the University of Padua in the 16th century, he would have withheld all of his florins from it upon Galileo's
Kenneth Barnhart II '45
I agree we have seen enough letters on the Professor Singer controversy. A final comment on Steve Forbes '70's role therein.
Now that Steve has learned that plundering his inherited wealth from father Malcolm '41 cannot buy a place as a candidate for the presidency on any ticket, one hopes he will now resign as a trustee of our dear university with the realization that his money can buy control neither of whom shall be awarded a Princeton professorship nor who shall be dismissed therefrom.
Frederick H. Bruenner '41
Port Washington, N.Y.
What in the world makes the alumni who oppose philosophy professor Peter Singer and support trustee Steve Forbes think that anyone cares about their opinions? So they spent 36 months on the Princeton campus. Big deal. Then they busted open their piggy banks for Princeton. Their loss. At the end of the day, they've got four years of good memories and a handful of canceled checks. Neither entitles them to whine about "ungodly" faculty hires and be taken seriously.
David McDermott Hughes '89
Highland Park, N.J.
Corey Robin '89
The trustees' defense of Princeton's freedom to choose its faculty based on the recognition by a widely respected community of scholars of a prospective faculty candidate's merit deserves to be applauded. While there exists a variety of reasons to disagree with some of Professor Peter Singer's positions, this is a far cry from the tone of those alumni who, when writing in this column, raise the specter of Nazism or threaten our university with withholding their financial support. The trivialization of the horrors of Nazism is offensive to the memory of those, including my relatives, who died either as victims of or in the resistance to the Nazis. For alumni to withhold financial support from the university by way of retaliation for an academic appointment based on merit is contrary to the spirit of freedom of inquiry which Princeton represents so well and which I will continue to use my best efforts to support.
Harold J. Bursztajn '72
No to the WTO
I was proud of being a Princetonian when I read the many well-informed letters critiquing Professor Gene Grossman's assessment of the World Trade Organization and its critics. Those who oppose it are rightly concerned about the growing power of
After all, our motto is "Princeton in the nation's service," not "Princeton in the Fortune 500's service." There is a difference, you know. Yes, we are an establishment school, but it does not automatically follow from that that our allegiances are for sale to the highest bidder.
I hope paw will revisit this critical issue often. It's the great question of our time, and clearly there are many qualified alumni who can speak to it.
Ken McCarthy '81
I was in Seattle for the demonstration against the WTO. That occasion provided a wonderful opportunity to renew my credentials as a Class of 1970 bug. The hope kindled by nonviolent demonstrations of the late '60s was reborn in Seattle and with far more social diversity.
Why we environmentalists, farmers, labor unionists, church people, etc. took the time and risks to take part is brushed off by Professor Grossman. He simply defends the WTO and dismisses national sovereignty whenever it conflicts with trade treaties. What happened to "Princeton in the nation's service"? What happened to intellectual fairness? If you can't do better than that I wouldn't even pretend to cover the issue. Interested alumni should inquire further into the WTO.
The WTO puts trade ahead of all other values including democracy, environmental protection, and labor issues. An anonymous three-man panel meets in private to rule on disputes. With no explanation they issue a ruling which may, and often does, undermine national laws. The lowest common denominator becomes the benchmark with progressive, enlightened national law eroded by an unelected, anonymous, unaccountable panel.
Larry Campbell '70
The World Trade Organization was created of, for, and by transnational corporate interests. Its rules are written primarily to protect corporate profit. Time and time again, it has struck down laws that support human rights, labor rights, rights to clean air and water-in favor of corporate rights.
The WTO is not a democratic or transparent institution. Its decisions are made in secret, and many key decisions are made through so-called green room negotiations, which exclude delegates of most developing countries. Moreover, its rulings have the power to supersede democratically made local, state, and national laws that protect public health, basic human rights, or the environment.
The thousands of citizens and activists who gathered in Seattle were calling out to be heard. We were asking to democratize the global economy, to shut down the WTO, and start again with a body that is actually representative of the interests of all nations and the majority of citizens.
While it is true that economic growth may bring an increased standard of living, the reality is that the prosperity of the past two decades has reached only a small proportion of the world's population. It is no secret that the richest 20 percent of the world's population now consume 86 percent of the world's resources while the poorest 80 percent consume just 14 percent (according to the U.N. Development Program), and that this inequality is growing.
Activists in Seattle were asking for economics that count the cost of human life and suffering. We were asking for fair trade, so that we do not continue to transfer wealth from the many to the few, which has been the legacy of "free trade."
Kate Emans '98
San Francisco, Calif.
Robert Ray '82, say it ain't so!
Astonishing! The following words appeared in your interesting profile on Robert Ray '82, successor to Ken Starr (March 8):
"One of the investigations Ray must complete involves the role that Giuliani's opponent, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, played in the firing of five career White House travel office employees.
"So don't look for the independent counsel's report on that supersensitive matter to be released on the eve of the fall election. 'I have been charged with responsibly conducting the work of this office, and in that regard some of my responsibility is to ensure that there is no untoward effect on the political process,' Ray said."
Why the words "So don't look for . . . " and " . . . no untoward effect . . . ."? Has a decision been made to withhold the prosecutor's review until after the election?
As a New York State voter, I would insist that the prosecutor's report be made public as soon as possible. Let the chips fall where they may; is Mrs. Clinton an unindicted coconspirator (pardon the '70s language), or is she not? This information is necessary-before an election, not after-for sensible voter choice as to who is best deserving of election to the U.S. Senate.
John N. Pike '51
Off by a decade?
The photo in the February 23 issue (From the Archives) looks like it was taken closer to 1965 than 1975. Everything about the students in the photo-haircuts, eyeglasses, shirts, Parker ballpoint pen, briefcase, lone female-all point straight to the period between 1965 and 1967. While I was no longer on the Princeton campus in 1975, I find it hard to believe that the students of that era so thoroughly reverted back to the mid-'60s look after all the turmoil and long hair of five years earlier. No doubt some of the young men in the photo will identify themselves and accurately place it in time.
Rollin Olson '70
The caption ("seniors gathered in front of the Nassau Inn . . . listening to a speech delivered from the inn's balcony") for the photograph in March 8 (From the Archives) is curious, and I wonder whether or not it was the original caption from 1912 (my father's class!) or was composed by today's editors. First, the crowd is not gathered in front of the only balcony with people on it evident in the photograph, but in front of another building one or two buildings beyond it. Second, they are looking, not at the building with the balcony, but at the other building beyond it; and third, and most telling, they are looking at something at street level, not up at where a balcony would be.
Joseph Neff Ewing, Jr. '47
West Chester, Pa.
Tigers on the fairway
Your article on Steve Dana '94 (Sports, March 22) mentions some of the great golf- course designers of all time: A. W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones, and Pete Dye. Dana may be the next great golf-course architect, but he won't be the first great one from Princeton: John Bredemus '12 designed the golf course at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, among many others. Colonial is the site of the annual PGA Tour's Colonial MasterCard Invitational and is consistently ranked as one of the top 50 golf courses in the U.S. Memorial Park is the former home of the PGA Tour's Houston Open and is regarded as one of the nation's best municipal courses.
Mark Herzfeld '90
League City, Tex.
Memorial funds, or not?
Most alumni will be surprised to learn that since 1969, the university has been soliciting contributions from alumni for one stated purpose (class memorials), but using the majority of the class memorial funds (an average of 72 percent) for an entirely different purpose (Annual Giving). This diversion of funds has been accomplished without bothering to obtain the consent of the individual contributors.
I have written to President Shapiro asking that he put a stop to this practice and find ways to compensate the various class memorial funds for the substantial sums (over $5 million since 1987 alone) that have been diverted from them over the past three decades.
I urge alumni to communicate with the administration, the trustees, or the Annual Giving office to let them know you do not approve of this unethical practice and do not consider it worthy of Princeton.
John Stryker '74
Kendall Park, N.J.
Tales of Coach Bill Clarke
I am hoping to collect and record memories of Bill Clarke, the late legendary baseball coach. If any of paw's readers know a story about him, please send it to me.
Also, I would like to know if he really told his candidates not to be so "indegodampendent."
Please send any anecdotes to me at: H109 Pennswood Village, 1382 Newtown- Langhorne Rd., Newtown, PA 18940-2401; e-mail email@example.com.
Adra Fairman w'34
James Ward Smith service
A memorial service for Professor James Ward Smith '38 *40 will be held at 11 a.m. in the university chapel on Friday, May 26. Friends, colleagues, students, and navy comrades of Jim Smith are cordially invited to attend the service and a reception afterward in the philosophy department Tower Room in 1879 Hall. For more information, please phone 609-924-7336.
Readers' letters regarding Professor Peter Singer have been arriving
at our offices at a fairly steady clip over the last year. We received close
to 70 letters about Professor Singer or Trustee Steve Forbes '70. Since
our March 22 issue, in which we published numerous letters from readers,
and our April 5 issue, in which we published Peter Singer's response, we
have another dozen. Because of the nature of our publishing schedule, many
of your letters have yet to appear. We will try to publish as many as possible
before the end of the academic year in July.
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