The President's Page: July 5, 2000
1999-2000: Sustaining and Strengthening Princeton
As I think back over the year just ending, my thoughts go first to some of those decisions that will have a significant impact on what kind of institution Princeton will become in the years ahead: decisions about which students to admit, which faculty to appoint or promote, which new teaching and scholarly programs to begin, and who shall be asked, as trustees and senior administrators, to provide leadership and support.
In these respects, this has been a very good year. At both the undergraduate and graduate level, Princeton continues to attract exceptional students from all over the world. With the additional resources we have committed to financial aid over recent years, we have been able to increase both the diversity and the quality of our student bodies. We also continue to compete successfully for distinguished faculty members who are both leaders in their fields and gifted teachers.
One of the goals that we achieved this year in our faculty hiring was to reduce somewhat the number of senior-level appointments while correspondingly increasing the number of appointments at the junior (assistant professor) level. We also have developed several programs-our new Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a postdoctoral program in our new Genomics institute-that are designed to bring leading young scholars to Princeton at the very early stages of their careers. These steps recognize the importance of constantly replenishing our faculty ranks with individuals who will become leaders of future generations of teachers and scholars.
We added important new leadership to our administrative ranks this spring with the appointment of Janet Dickerson as our first vice president for campus life. Janet has had a stellar career as the chief student affairs officer at Swarthmore and for the last nine years at Duke. She will not only help us strengthen campus life for all our students, but will oversee the transition to a new era at Princeton with the opening this coming fall of the Frist Campus Center. Early indications are that this center will be enormously successful in providing
all members of the university community-students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors and others-with interesting spaces and a broad range of programs and offerings. Paul Breitman, the first director of the center, is working hard to create a strong sense of community and excitement in this 200,000-square-foot facility, designed by Robert Venturi '47 *50, that skillfully connects a renovated Palmer Hall with creatively designed new space that extends south toward Guyot Hall.
With respect to administrative leadership, let me also note the arrival this summer of Susan Taylor, currently director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, as the new director of the Princeton University Art Museum, and commend Kathy Taylor '74, who took over as director of the Alumni Council last fall, for all of her accomplishments this past year in strengthening the council and expanding its services to alumni. An insert in the PAW last fall outlined the many opportunities available to alumni, ranging from on-line courses and other educational programs to career advising and schools committee interviewing. One of our major initiatives of this past year was the creation of a new non-profit consortium through which Princeton, Yale and Stanford will significantly expand the on-line educational opportunities they offer, focusing initially on their students and alumni.
Finally, let me note that the trustees elected three new members this spring: Dennis Keller '63, one of the co-chairs of our Anniversary Campaign for Princeton, who will be returning to the board as a charter trustee, and Henry Kennedy '70 and Margaret Whitman '77, who will be joining as term trustees. In addition, alumni elected T. R. Reid '66 and Ruth Berkelman '73 as alumni trustees and the junior, senior and two youngest alumni classes elected Spencer Merriweather '00 as our newest young alumni trustee. The trustees will also be electing a graduate of the Graduate School this summer as a term trustee, to take office with our other new trustees in September. I welcome all of these new trustees to one of the hardest working and most active boards in all of American higher education.
Certainly one of the hardest working trustee committees ever was one that I mentioned in my year-end reflections both last year and the year before. This committee, chaired by Paul Wythes '55, made a set of recommendations this spring on several important strategic directions for Princeton. The committee met 25 times over more than two years. After its report was presented in January, the board sought comments from faculty, students, alumni and others before making a number of revisions and then adopting the report in April.
As a result of this action, Princeton is preparing to increase the size of each undergraduate class by ten percent (from 1,150 to 1,275) as soon as we can construct a sixth residential college and the necessary additional upperclass dormitory spaces. Our estimate is that it will take three to four years to complete these facilities. At that point we will begin to admit additional students, one class at a time. We are confident that we now have the capacity to increase the size of the entering class without in any way diminishing the quality of our educational programs. Moreover, we believe that these additional students will not only enrich the overall Princeton experience with strong intellectual credentials and an increased range of talents, backgrounds and interests, but that they will enable Princeton to have an even greater impact on this nation and all nations through the contributions they will make throughout their lives and careers.
Before making this recommendation, the trustees examined at great length the same questions that have been raised by faculty, students, alumni and others about whether Princeton can accommodate this increase without fundamentally altering the nature of the Princeton undergraduate experience. We expect that Princeton's low student-faculty ratio will be maintained as the faculty continues to grow at its historic rate of approximately one percent per year (reflecting the inexorable expansion of knowledge). At the same time, we recognize that we will need to pay especially careful attention to the needs for faculty and graduate students in the most heavily enrolled departments. We also appreciate the importance of ensuring that students have access to a broad range of activities and services so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities Princeton offers outside of as well as within the classroom, library and laboratory. As we develop our plans for this expansion of the undergraduate student body, we will continue to consult actively with the trustees, the faculty, students and others.
Other recommendations in the Wythes Committee report relate to the strength of our undergraduate financial aid program, the size of the Graduate School, the size and composition of the faculty and of the administrative and support staffs, the management and long-term well-being of the University's physical and financial resources, the implications of new computing and telecommunications technologies for our teaching programs, and the continuing vitality of the library. Alumni can find the full report at www.princeton.edu/pr/reports/wythes/ or can obtain it through the Secretary's office in 1 Nassau Hall.
As the Wythes Committee pointed out, a university that does not evolve with changing times cannot retain either its distinction or its social relevance. Thus, while retaining its historic emphasis on excellence in undergraduate education, Princeton needs to continue to expand into new intellectual fields, develop new courses of study, remain accessible to a broad range of students from all economic backgrounds, and reach out in new ways to alumni and others through new technologies. In my view, the Wythes Committee report provides an excellent blueprint to achieve these goals.
The Anniversary Campaign for Princeton
From its earliest days, beginning with Governor Belcher's donation of his library to the fledgling colonial college he helped establish in New Jersey, Princeton has depended on the benefactions of its friends-and for most of its history, on the generosity of its alumni-to sustain its distinction and achieve its aspirations. Five years ago, the trustees launched a 250th Anniversary Campaign with a goal of $750 million. The goal was later increased to $900 million, but as of this writing the campaign has passed the billion dollar mark with several weeks yet to go. This is an extraordinary achievement for an institution of Princeton's size, and a great tribute to the many Annual Giving and leadership gifts volunteers, Vice President for Development Van Zandt Williams '65 and his staff, and the thousands of alumni and others who have contributed through Annual Giving and capital gifts. These gifts provide ongoing support for faculty positions, programs of teaching and research, undergraduate and graduate student aid, the library, campus life, the construction and renovation of facilities, and a number of other purposes.
New academic programs made possible by the campaign range from the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts (anchored by the Cotsen Fellows in the Humanities) and the Lewis-Sigler Institute in Integrative Genomics to the Center for the Study of Religion and our new undergraduate certificate program and graduate program in finance (both part of the Bendheim Center). In addition to the Frist Campus Center, the Icahn Laboratory to house our genomics institute, Scully Hall, Wright Hall and other new and renovated dormitory space, other new facilities associated with the campaign range from the new Wallace Social Sciences Building (behind Corwin Hall and Dial Lodge) and the new Friend Center for Engineering Education (next to the Computer Science building across Olden Street from the Engineering Quadrangle) to the stunning new Princeton Stadium, the proposed Berlind Theatre addition to McCarter Theatre, and major renovations that are being designed to convert East Pyne, Chancellor Green and the Joseph Henry House into a center for the humanities. In addition, the trustees have commissioned a leading landscape architectural firm to develop and begin implementing a campus landscape master plan for the historic front campus.
Graduate School Centennial
Our celebration of the Centennial of the Graduate School officially began with Reunions 2000 as almost 500 graduate alumni and more than 300 current graduate students participated in events that ranged from a rededication of Cleveland Tower at the Graduate College (including a specially commissioned poem by Professor Paul Muldoon) to the presentation of a banner that astronaut Daniel Barry *80 carried to the International Space Station aboard the shuttle Discovery during last year's Reunions. More than 650 costumed graduate alumni, students and guests marched in the P-rade just behind the 25th-Reunion Class of 1975.
This coming year there will be a public lecture series featuring six distinguished graduate alumni; a symposium of Princeton-educated university presidents sponsored by the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni; a commemorative ceremony and celebratory dinner dance on December 15; a forum of previous winners of the James Madison medal next spring at Alumni Day; and a number of conferences and programs, including a conference next March on graduate education. Information about these and other activities is available at the centennial's website, www.princeton.edu/centennial. I hope as many alumni as possible-undergraduate alumni as well as graduate alumni-will participate in the centennial celebrations.
Perhaps I should end by noting that we managed this past year to survive both the ravages of Hurricane Floyd (although students did have to endure several days without showers) and the arrival of the year 2000 without any serious Y2K dislocations to our computer systems (after many staff members worked many long hours to ensure that this would be so). On New Year's Eve we invited residents of the surrounding communities to join us on the front campus at midnight to herald the arrival of a year that the Class of 2000 still has not decided how best to abbreviate. As I noted on Class Day, I do not seem to have gotten very far with my suggestion that they should be known as the Class of "aughty aught aught" or "aughty aughty aught." This is probably one of those questions of usage that simply has to wait for the passage of time.
On behalf of my wife, Vivian, and myself, I want to thank all of Princeton's alumni for your interest and support and encourage your continuing involvement in the life of the University in all the traditional ways, but also in the various new ways made available to us by the new technologies.
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