Web Exclusives: PawPlus

July 7, 2004:

President Shirley Tilghman
“Conversation with Alumni”
Princeton University
May 29, 2004



Good morning. My name is Brent Henry. I’m a member of the Class of 1969. We’re celebrating our 35th reunion. I’m glad to be here. I also happen to be a charter trustee of the University, and I was very pleased and honored to be asked to introduce Shirley this morning.

I first met Shirley after having been involved in alumni affairs since the mid-1990s, when we both served together on the University presidential search committee in 2000. Now, many of you have heard the story about how her nomination was put forth one day when she left the meeting to go and teach a class. And I won’t go into the details here, but I think that very statement says a lot about Shirley; number one, that teaching is her first love, because still gives courses from time to time in molecular biology. I understand she lectures regularly, and she also even has advisees, and even a few senior advisees, I understand. Second, though, that she also has the utmost respect among her faculty colleagues and the students that served on that committee. Her course on science for nonscience majors, I understand, was — I don’t think you still teach it — was one of the most popular in the curriculum. And she was the founding director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, thereby demonstrating that she had the ability to turn ideas into reality. We realized that we had in our midst someone who could very effectively build on the foundation that Harold Shapiro had laid to take Princeton to the next level. In fact, in the words of one of her early mentors, whom I interviewed during the selection process, Shirley was what we genomics scientists call “first class protoplasm.”

Let me tell you a little bit about Shirley’s background. She began her career at Princeton in 1986, when she was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Molecular Biology, as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences. Two years later, she was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She chaired the University’s Council on Science and Technology from 1993 to 2000, and she served from 1998 to 2003, as I just mentioned, as the director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. In 1996, she received one of the University’s President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching.

A native of Canada, Shirley received her degree in chemistry from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1968. After two years of secondary school teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa, she obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Temple. She did postdoc studies in the National Institutes of Health, participating in cloning the first mammalian gene and has served as an independent investigator at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia and as adjunct professor of human genetics and biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Shirley is a member of the National Research Council’s committee that set the blueprint for the United States’ effort on the human-genome project. She is also one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project Initiative for the National Institutes of Health. She has played a national leadership role on behalf of women in science and has promoted efforts to make early careers of young scientists as meaningful and productive as possible. I also happen to know that Shirley has taken a very keen interest in high schoolers. Even to this day, when she goes around the country, speaking to alumni groups, she always makes it a point to visit the local public high school and talk about careers in science.

She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Royal Society of London. She has served as a trustee of the Jackson Laboratory of Rockefeller University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Shirley has two children, one of whom, a daughter, Rebecca, graduated in the Class of 2003. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to hear Shirley as she has gone around the country and held town meetings over the past couple of years — and I think you’ve got an international coming up, as I recall, so she’s spreading the word throughout the world now — you’re in for a treat. It’s really been a distinct pleasure for me, as a Board member, to work with Shirley as we consider new directions for this University. I am really glad that she is at the helm. Ladies and gentlemen, Shirley M. Tilghman, Princeton’s 19th president.

President Tilghman

Thank you. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this conversation. And I do mean for this to be a conversation. This is a tradition that began four years ago, immediately after I was selected as the 19th president. On that occasion, Harold Shapiro, who was still president of the University, introduced me on the Saturday morning of Reunion weekend, and that proved such an interesting and enjoyable experience that once you have done one thing successfully at Princeton, it rapidly becomes a tradition. So it’s now a tradition, and I will continue do this until no one shows up, at which point we will put it to bed.

I will say that the undergraduate students heard about this conversation this year and a delegation came to me and said that the student body were feeling left out, that they had heard that I have this annual conversation with alumni. They heard that I was traveling all over the world, talking to alumni, and they were a little bent out of shape about the fact that I wasn’t having a similar event on campus for them. So, in fact, we had such an event. We called it the “Town Meeting at Princeton.” A very large number of students and faculty and staff in McCosh 10 gathered, and we spent an hour and a half, essentially having a conversation together about Princeton. Like all good things, it is now a tradition, and I will do this once a semester in the future on campus as well.

Well, I can’t begin without saying what an extraordinary day it is for a P-rade. I tried, in the last three years, to order up weather like this. It seems that the fourth time is the trick, and we’re going to have a wonderful time this afternoon. There are 18,000 of you gathered here, at Princeton this weekend, a very large and terrific turnout. And, of course, there are three trillion cicadas. I think one of my favorite moments over the last several weeks was walking from my office in Nassau Hall out to Nassau Street to get a cup of coffee and there was David Wilcove, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, whom we hired several years ago from the Environmental Defense Fund, standing under a tree with a group of students with cicadas in their hands, and he was discussing the biology of the cicadas, pointing out that they are Princeton cicadas. They are, indeed, orange and black striped. And I thought, “This is Princeton. Every moment is a teachable moment. You can turn a plague of locusts into a biology class.”

What I want to do for about 20 minutes — and then, try and leave enough time for all of your comments and questions — is to give you a sense of what has been happening on campus over the last year, some of our successes, some of our challenges. And as I always do, when I have these conversations, I must begin by talking about people because universities are fundamentally about their people. It’s about students, faculty, staff, alumni. And I want to just tell you a few stories about some of the individuals who have been particularly memorable this year. And, as always, I begin with the students.

I want to mention two of our students who received special recognition this year in the form of Rhodes Scholarships. There are many fellowships and scholarships that are won by our students, but the Rhodes is certainly one of the most prestigious, and two of our students received them this year. The first is David Robinson, who is a philosophy major from Potomac, Maryland, and served, while he was on campus, as the opinion editor of the Prince. Now, my relationship with David began the day after I was elected president, when the Prince was given the right of an interview. And David came into my office very seriously. I couldn’t get him to crack a smile. And he sat down in his best Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein style and he had clearly spent the night searching the web, and he looked at me and his first question was, “It said in an article in the New York Times several years ago that you are a liberal and a feminist.” And my response was, “So?” And that began a three-year friendship with David Robinson that, I am very proud to say, continues to this day. He has been a marvelous, simply marvelous member of our community, and as he goes off to Oxford to study moral philosophy, I know he will make his mark in the world.

The other Rhodes Scholar this year is Willow Sainsbury, who hales from Auckland, New Zealand, one of our international students. Her name is perfect. I don’t know how her parents figured it out. She’s tall and willowy and strikingly beautiful. She is an art history major, and she is a painter. She did a certificate in visual arts, and I was lucky enough this spring to catch her senior thesis show, in which she has painted the most beautiful paintings, that, although they are abstract, they clearly are capturing the remarkable beauty of her homeland. These are just wonderful works of art. And Willow is going off to Oxford to study anthropology. She is interested, particularly, in the Maori populations in New Zealand, and she is going to study anthropology. These are just two of the wonderful students that we have on campus, who have received very specific kinds of honors over the last year.

I want to mention a number of senior thesis projects that were really notable this year. One of them was by a young man named Anthony Costanza, who is in the music department, who wrote and produced, and sang in an opera, here, on this stage. The sets were imported from Milan. The costumes were designed by James Ivory, the film director, and it was one of the most remarkable productions that I have ever seen. Anthony is, indeed, a professional opera singer. He is a counter-tenor, with a voice of an angel, and it really was, I think, a tribute to our Department of Music, to Anthony, and to Princeton, that we were able to give Anthony this opportunity at this great university, which is not a music school, to really fulfill his musical aspirations. It was a remarkable evening.

The other senior thesis project I want to just mention is one from last year. I heard the other day from Scott Berg, our great Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, that he had, in Boston, met a member of the Class of ’03, Kate Benson, who, for her senior thesis, had written a novel. He had just heard that it has now been accepted for publication. So this, again, is an opportunity for our students to pursue their dreams while they are at Princeton, receiving a great education, and then, go out and have their work as senior thesis students, recognized more broadly in the world.

Now, much has been happening on campus in the extracurricular domain. I will tell you that I am wearing, this morning, my hopefully lucky charm necklace, which is the replica of the 2001 Men’s Lacrosse Championship ring, that Bill Tierney, the coach of the team, gave me after their victory. As you know, about at the time that we are going to leave, they are playing in the Final Four. They are a young team. It’s amazing that they are actually in the Final Four this year. Hopefully, all of us will be cheering them on in our minds, at least this afternoon. The women’s lacrosse team this year was undefeated until the final game of the season, where they met a better team, frankly, the University of Virginia women. It was played here, in the Princeton Stadium. It was a wonderful season for those women. They gave all of us enormous pride, enormous joy. They are poetry in motion, if you have never seen them play.

Now, we expected the women’s swim team to win the Ivy League Championship this year because, after all, they’d done it for the previous four years. And, indeed, they did go on to win the Ivy Champion this year, but so did the men, this year! So we thought it was very good that they have caught up to their women colleagues and, as Sue Teeter, the coach of the women’s team said, it is a really special occasion when both teams win Ivy Championships in the same season.

I might just mention one individual athlete, Yassir El-Halaby, who this year, for the second time in the row, won the NCAA Individual Squash Championship. He is a remarkably talented squash player and for those of you who love squash, be sure you get to campus sometime next year. He’s only going to be a junior next year, so he has two more championships to go and you have lots of chances to see him. So it’s been a year of celebration, certainly, on the athletic playing field as well as in the classrooms.

I want to just mention one really remarkable achievement on the side of the faculty this year, and that is the group of cosmologists that work in our astrophysics department and in our physics department. Science magazine, every year, has, at the end of the year, announces the discovery of the year. It’s the equivalent of Time magazine’s Man or Woman of the Year. And this year, Science identified two projects that are led by our faculty in physics and in astrophysics. One of them is called the W-MAP Project. And the W stands for David Wilkinson, who was a member of our faculty for over 30 years who, unfortunately, died before this project reached fruition. This is a satellite that is measuring microwave background radiation, which is allowing us to look back in time, nanoseconds after the Big Bang, and it is telling us about how this universe came into being. Profoundly important, deep knowledge about the universe. The other project is called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and it is actually mapping the sky, mapping universe, allowing us to know what it looks like today, in 2004, not back what it looked like in minutes after the Big Bang. Both of these are emblematic of the quality of scholarship and research that is done by our faculty, but it was a special pleasure this year to see our cosmologists so wonderfully recognized by their peers.

I would like to say just a few words about a very important change in the senior administration of the University this year. I hope you know that we celebrated, just a few weeks ago, the fact that Amy Gutmann, who has been the provost for the last three years, is going off to be the president of the University of Pennsylvania. They are a very, very lucky university, which I hope does not extend to their football and basketball teams. But they are, indeed, blessed to have Amy as their next president, and we will miss her greatly. However, I am really proud to tell you that the new provost, who will begin on July 1 is Chris Eisgruber, a member of the Class of 1983, who has been at Princeton, on the faculty for the last four years as the director of our Program in Law and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and in the University Center for Human Values. Chris himself was a Rhodes Scholar. When he was here at Princeton, he was a physics major, who went on to Oxford to study political theory, and then, received a degree in law from the University of Chicago. He then clerked for Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court, went to New York University Law School, and then, we were lucky enough to get him back here four years ago. He is a man of enormous integrity. He is a man of great character, of great judgment, and he is going to be a superb provost, as long as I can keep all those other universities’ meat-paws off him for a few years. You may know that Princeton is the farm team for university presidents all over this country, and I would like to have an exclusive contract for at least a few years. So that is, for me, I am very much looking forward to working with Chris.

Let me end with not a person, but a building. Just last month, we celebrated the dedication of the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, which marks the renewal of East Pyne and Chancellor Green, those glorious old buildings that had, over years and years of partial renovation, been turned more into rabbit warrens than into elegant academic buildings. And with the help of Gerry Andlinger, from the Class of 1952, we have just completed a two-year complete inside renewal of those two beautiful buildings. And if you have not been inside to see our handiwork, please do because those buildings are now back to the beauty that existed when many of you were here at Princeton. It is really a wonderful example of how you can take a wonderful, structurally beautiful building and really restore it in a respectful way that recognizes tradition. So please make sure you go through Chancellor Green and East Pyne before you leave this weekend.

Now, let me just say a few words about three academic initiatives that have been occurring this year and then, I’m going to stop and open the floor for questions. The first, I hope some of you heard yesterday, which is the strategic planning that has been going on in the Engineering School for the last year. The new dean of engineering, Maria Klawe, has been here for a year and a half, and she has spent a good part of that time mobilizing the faculty, the students, the staff, and most impressively, a significant number of alumni, to come together over the fall in 11 different workshops to think through what 21st century engineering and engineering education should look like, in the context of Princeton University. Yesterday, they launched the strategic plan to a packed house over at the Friend Center and I think it is a bold plan for Princeton engineering. What it does is commit our School of Engineering and Applied Science to offering the finest education for engineering education and research in the country by putting engineering education into its broad societal context. All of us know that technology is having an enormously powerful impact on our lives and the teaching of engineering and the scholarship of engineering cannot be done in a vacuum. It never could, but it certainly cannot be done in a vacuum in the 21st century. It needs to be done in such a way that we are addressing society’s needs because that’s what engineering is about, is about finding solutions to problems. We have to make sure we know what those problems are and that the solutions are going to work for the individuals who are going to be affected. And most important, we see ourselves as educating engineering leaders. They will be enormously well trained as engineers. Their bridges will stand up and not fall down, but they will be bridges that solve problems for communities and they will be bridges that are beautiful and elegant at the same time. So this is an exciting plan for the school. It’s a 10-year plan. It’s one that I know is going to be difficult and challenging for us to meet, but I believe it’s the right vision for Princeton.

The second thing I want to tell you about very briefly is what has been happening in the area of international relations and international studies at Princeton. Some of you know, I think, that the Board of Trustees, about a year and a half ago, made a renewed commitment to having the study of the world be a central and important part of a Princeton education. One of the initiatives that came out of that commitment was the creation of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, which is a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson School — which, of course, has been the central place on campus for international relations — with the portions of the University that are devoted to the study of specific parts of the world. Those two had not really communicated well in the past, so we have brought them together and through the leadership of Anne-Marie Slaughter at the Woodrow Wilson School, there is an enormous invigoration on this campus, invigoration in terms of new faculty who will be coming to the University in this area, invigoration in a commitment to make sure that all of our students leave this university understanding aspects of the world outside the United States. All of us know how important this is, how essential it is, and we are now explicitly committed to this going forward.

Lastly, I wish Hodding Carter were in the audience. Is Hodding here? I know he’s coming tomorrow, because last year, at this, he asked me, “What are you doing about grade inflation?” And I had to say, “Well, you know, Hodding, it’s a difficult problem,” and da-da-da-da. Well, this year, we actually used sort of a directive that we received from the chairs of the academic departments, to try and craft a University policy that would help us bring our grading practices back in line with where they were approximately a decade ago. We worked very hard on this proposal and the “we,” by the way, is primarily Nancy Malkiel, the dean of the college. We came to the faculty with a proposal that had been thoroughly vetted through the chairs and the faculty voted two-to-one in favor of a grade-inflation proposal that set a series of expectations in each one of the academic departments about how grading should be distributed across all of the courses offered by those departments. I think this is an important issue. I think it is an issue where Princeton is taking a leadership role. Many of our peers in other universities have called to thank us for being willing to take this on, because it now gives them the leverage to go and do what needs to be done at their own institutions. As all of you know, grading inflation was not a Princeton-specific problem. But I think we are going to help, in fact, not just here, at Princeton, but nationally, in bringing a greater sense of reality into the grades that we are giving our students. It was an exciting faculty meeting, I can tell you, but one, I think, where the faculty really came together and with, I think, a remarkable degree of agreement, committed themselves to improving the situation with grade inflation.

So I am going to end at this point and I am going to open the floor. I see we have half an hour, so I am going to open the floor for your comments and questions, your constructive criticism. What I would ask is that you wait before you ask your question until you have a microphone in your hand because it is very hard to hear in this facility unless you’re speaking with a mike. So I saw there’s a question. Yes?


Questions and Answers

Q: President Tilghman, it’s delightful that your glowing support of our athletics came across as it is. However, there’s a presumption on the part of many athletes, many of us that have participated in the athletic program, that you’re in the process of dismantling the proud traditions of the Ivy League, our teams and our activities. Now, specifically, you, I trust, realize that the class unity is, as evidenced by Reunions, and the cement or what you have, the adhesive that binds many of us together over the year, are the quality of our teams. To give you an example, when I was in school, we had 120 freshman football players that were out on the team. Today, we don’t have a freshman team and we have 30 recruits, which are approved for football, as I understand it. Second, their coaches are extremely upset. We’ve lost our field hockey coach because she thinks she’s read the handwriting on the wall. We look to Bowen’s book, where he’s drawn a very broad band of conclusions, but he has not supported it, as far as the Ivy League is concerned, with the hard data that our athletes are not as good a student or have produced after their college life, in the quality way that we, as Princetonians, would like to see us participate in our country’s activities. There isn’t a person in this room that can’t relate to Hobey Baker. My dad played with him on the team in 1915. Kazmaier, I went to school with. Bill Bradley was my brother’s classmate. We have Cosmo Iacavazzi, I consider a dear friend, and Keith Elias, who’s a marvelous spokesman for the athletic program. Now, getting into this a little bit further. Character and balance are the things that athletes bring to this university. I would like to see your tradition maintaining the programs and not be remembered as a couple of our other presidents have been remembered, with activities that they engaged in that took away all of the charisma and the good that they had brought to the table. We remember Shapiro dismantled wrestling; the alumni brought it back. Now, my questions to you specifically, where do you stand, how do you intend to maintain this program, and why can’t Princeton be, in the national scene, a college like Stanford, that has the best athletes, the best kids, the best program, and is admired across the whole academic community, please.

A: Well. Let’s start at the top. With all due respect, the perception that I have any interest whatsoever in dismantling — I think was your phrase in the beginning — the traditional success of Princeton athletics could not be more wrong. That’s the first. Second, recall that with respect to Princeton football, the decision to eliminate freshman football was taken by the Ivy League Presidents back in the early 1990s. Whether that was a good decision or not a good decision, it was made because the coaches argued that you could not recruit football players to the Ivy League if they were not playing on the varsity team in their freshman year. And that was the reason why that change came about in the early 1990s. It’s a done decision, essentially. Thirdly, the success of Princeton athletics, if you look at it — and I’ve done it. I’ve actually gone and done the calculations — over the last six years. Princeton remains the winningest team in the Ivy League, winningest school in the Ivy League. If you look on the women’s side, we are absolutely dominant in the Ivy League. There is no other school in the Ivy League that can come close. I think we have twice the number of Ivy championships than the next school down from us. In terms of the men, we are also dominant — not as dominant as we are on the women’s side, but we win more Ivy championships, in fact, than any other school in the Ivy League. So I can tell you that when I go to Ivy Presidents meetings, I am the president that gets attacked by all the other presidents as being the school that is the most pro-athletics. So the perception that we are losing ground, that we are not committed to having the finest coaches and the finest student athletes is just simply not borne out when you look at the record. With respect to the field hockey coach that you’re referring to, I think you would, if you asked the director of athletics, he would tell you that he was just as happy that we lost that field hockey coach, because I don’t think she understood the philosophy of the Ivy League. And that brings me down to really the core of your question, which is why we aren’t Stanford, or why we aren’t Duke. And it comes down to the commitment within the Ivy Leagues that is agreed to by all eight schools in the Ivy League that we will ensure that every one of our varsity athletes has a true Princeton education. Meaning that they take all of the same courses as all of the other students. They write junior independent papers that are every bit as rigorous as any other student in the University, and they write a senior thesis that is meaningful and they can get their heart and soul imbedded into it. That is not true at Stanford, and it is not true at Duke, and if we are prepared to believe that we have something special in the Ivy League, I think it is fabulous that we can have our men’s lacrosse team competing in the Final Four. I think it’s fabulous that our women’s open crew is in California right now rowing for the national championship. I think the fact that we can do that, but we are only going to do it under certain circumstances and that is that those women on that open crew handed in their senior theses, were able to do work of the highest quality while still being able to participate in athletics. I can just tell you because I have talked to the presidents of both Stanford and Duke about this. The first thing both of them said to me when I asked them, “How do you balance athletics and academics?” Do you know what they said to me? “I would trade places with you in a micro-second if I could have the philosophy of the Ivy League instead of the philosophy of the Pac-10 and the ACC. So we want to be really careful that we get this balance right. I don’t think there is a school in the country that gets it better than Princeton, and I’m prepared to sustain it because I believe we’ve got it right.

Q: Thank you for coming. Yesterday, we attended a panel of five students. I think they were two sophomores, two juniors and a senior, and there were three men and two women. And in the course of the Q and A, they were asked their opinion of the War in Iraq and somewhat to my surprise, one might have been asking about something that occurred in the Middle Ages, and the only real comment that came from the panel was, “Well, there’s no draft now, so really, it’s not a concern of ours.” And I was sort of taken by surprise by that and so were some of the other people that attended the panel and I just wonder if the course load and internal work here may insulate the students a little bit too much from current events.

A: I think the reason is more complicated than that. And I’m going to just offer my own personal sense. I think 9/11 was a profoundly difficult event in the lives of these young men and women. They had lived their 18 to 20 years in a time when everything was very positive and the country was booming and the country was largely at peace. And 9/11 I think it shook them down to their roots, and what it did is, I think, it set up for them a real difficulty in thinking about patriotism. You know, if there was one thing that that event elicited in all of us was sort of a strong, deep patriotic reaction. Our country had been attacked. And I think they haven’t recovered from, they haven’t, got their equilibrium back, is my own sense of it. Now, we did one thing this spring that I think is very important because I do want them politically aware and I do want them politically engaged and certainly, if you look at the events on campus, that have occurred since 9/11 to make them, not to make them, to give them opportunities to explore what is going on in the world, you wouldn’t think that were derelict in our duty. But we did discover that we had a rule on campus that was an overly strict interpretation of an IRS regulation that, in which we didn’t allow student groups like the Young Republicans or the Young Democrats to register to do registration drives for voting. And when we discovered that this rule was being enforced, Bob Durkee, who’s sitting over there, and I spoke together and said, “We’ve got to change this rule. We want our students registered to vote. We want them thinking about where they stand in the political spectrum. We’re not going to tell them where to stand, but boy, do we want them taking a stand.” So we changed the rules, and now, we’re going to have very open voter registration opportunities in the fall for all our students, so. We want them to be more engaged than that panel. And, in fact, my commencement address is going to be about this.

Q: First of all, I want to make a comment. It will be a little shorter. I’ve been an alumnus under four, different presidents, going back to Dodds, and I want to say — and I’ve heard these speeches, conversations — this is the best I’ve ever heard and not only that, your performance in these four years, I think, is fantastic, which is my favorite, favorite superlative adjective. And I even learned that as an engineer. I was pleased to hear all about the engineering school. But the question I ask is, and maybe I’m not up to date, but when you put through the policy of eliminating loans and all scholarships, I understand there was a lot of objection from our competing universities, that it was unfair, it gave you an unfair advantage on selecting students, and it would adversely affect a lot of their financial positions. Could you comment on that?

A: Well, you’re absolutely right, that at the time that President Shapiro and the Board of Trustees made that very important decision, to eliminate loans and go to full grants, there was a lot of grumbling from our peers in higher education. Some of them modified their financial aid, none of them to completely eliminate the need for a loan, but some of them to reduce the requirement for a loan. But I think, my view of the matter is that it is all a matter of setting University priorities. If your priority, and of course, this policy occurred right at the dot-com bubble, when the sky just seemed to be the limit, many universities made decisions to build buildings and hire people and use the resources that their endowments had created to do those kinds of things. What Princeton did is plow those dollars into financial aid, and I would say more power to us for making that priority decision.

Q: Along the same lines, there’s been quite a bit of press recently about how the elite universities in this country have gone from recruiting students from all walks of life and all backgrounds to really have student bodies that are very highly concentrated at the upper income levels, and I’m just curious what your view on that is and what role you think Princeton ought to be playing to make sure that we really are in the nation’s service of bringing the best and the brightest here, irrespective of their financial background.

A: I am completely committed to the latter. That I am completely committed to making sure that we are attracting every student who’s capable of doing the work at Princeton and then, offering them a place in the class and figuring out only afterwards how we are going to help them pay for it. I’ve actually gone back and looked at Princeton numbers from the Classes of 2000 through 2007. In fact, I was just looking at them yesterday. And what you see is if you look at sort of the bottom one-eighth of the income distribution in this country, student applicants are underrepresented in that group. In other words, there could be problems. One is students in the lowest income group are not applying, or it could be that they’re applying and we’re not accepting them, and if I look at Princeton numbers, our problem is that we’re not getting them to apply. And what that suggests is that the right solution for us — it may not be the right solution for all other universities — is we have to make it more widely known that a Princeton education is possible for any student who is capable of doing the work. One of the reasons — Brent mentioned that I go to high schools whenever I am out visiting alumni, and I choose the high schools very carefully that I go to, and I don’t go to talk about Princeton, but obviously Princeton comes up in the conversations, that’s a good thing — and what I hear more than anything else when I visit these schools is either, “I can’t afford Princeton,” or “Princeton is only for private school kids.” Those are the two most common things I hear. And of course, part of the reason for my visit is to debunk those two things. So I’ll give you one success story, where I really believe this strategy can work on a grander scale than just me, obviously. Two years ago, I went to Stuyvesant High School, in New York City, right after 9/11, and for those of you who know where Stuyvesant is, it’s right on the edge of Ground Zero. And I went because I had been told by a parent that Stuyvesant was not encouraging any of its students to apply to Princeton. Now Stuyvesant is a magnet school for science and math kids in New York City. It gets the best students in the city. So I went and I spent half a day at the school, talked to faculty, I talked to students, I talked to parents. They told me that Princeton was a private schools’ university, that there was no point in their kids applying. Last year, this past year, eight students from Stuyvesant applied early and we took six. Now that gives you an idea how quickly you can turn things around, right? So that’s what we’re going to really focus on. We’re doing, actually, a market survey this summer, to find out what people say about Princeton because he have anecdotal evidence that this is a problem, but maybe there’s a different problem, and once we know what the problem is, we’re going to have a concerted effort to fix it.

Q: My question for you is not going to be an easy one. I noticed coming back to the campus that the beer is flowing as usual around here and I’m wondering how you’re doing in progress with alcohol problems on campus.

A: Well, we are working all the time on the question of alcohol and Vice President Dickerson is sitting here, in the audience, over here, who is the person who probably spends more hours of the week thinking about it than anyone else, the vice president for campus life. I think it’s our sense, and Janet and I talk about this fairly often, that we have made a lot of progress this year. A lot of it is because of student initiative, and one student I would particularly want to identify here is Corey Saunders, who is graduating in the Class of ’04 in a few days. He came to us with a proposal to get every one of the eating clubs to commit to a dry weekend, a dry night on a weekend so that on any given weekend, there will be one of the clubs that is not serving alcohol and therefore, can be open to freshmen and sophomores so that they can go to the clubs and enjoy the dancing. And all of the clubs embraced it and so with a little grease provided by dollars in Nassau Hall, well, you know, carrots work, right? We are going to have dry nights at one of the clubs all next year. That’s just one example of a number of initiatives that we’ve tried. I think the other one that has been very successful is to provide, right by the taps in the eating clubs, water and soft drinks. Again, we paid for them. We’re happy to pay for them. So that when a student goes back to get another drink, there’s an alternative choice. Before that, there was no other choice. So each one of these things. This is not an issue where there’s going to be a silver bullet or there’s going to be one solution that’s going to fix it. The good news is that we see in the students who we’re most worried about, which are the students who show up at the McCosh Health Center, this year, for the first time, we’ve seen a lowering in the overall intoxication of the students who show up. That could be that they’re drinking less. It could be that they’re coming to us earlier. Whichever it is, and we’re not sure which, we think it’s a tremendously positive sign. So, the one thing I can reassure you of is that this is an issue that is on our minds really on a daily basis.

Q: Can you comment on the University’s choice of architecture? I see, for example, that you have broken ground for the math-science library replacing the Fine Hall. It does not seem to me from the description of that building that it is suited for the New Jersey climate.

A: Ah-ha. Well.

Q: Another question is a matter of taste.

A: My taste?

Q: The taste of the University and its architect. But I would not have put up metal flanges on a building intended to last in New Jersey.

A: Okay. Well, let me begin with sort of what is the University policy on architecture, and I think there are two critical parts to it. The first is that universities are one of the most important patrons of architecture in this country. If you actually look at the commissions of the important architects in this country, many of them are building on university campuses. I think it is our responsibility to engage the very finest architects. I think we should approach the choice of an architect in the way that we would approach the decision about what paintings to hang in the art museum. I think we should see ourselves, in fact, as patrons of great architecture. In terms of how we think about choices, we think about them differently in different parts of the campus, and this is the second part of the philosophy. Clearly, our campus is not homogeneous. We made that decision many years ago not to have every building look like Blair Arch, but in fact, to reflect the fact that great architecture can arise out of lots of different centuries, lots of different decades of a century and that we should be trying as best as we can to have places on campus where the architectural style is respectful of our great traditions of gothic, collegiate gothic, and we’re certainly sitting in that part of the campus right now. So that when we decided to build Whitman College and to build it particularly where it is sited, which is in the site of the old tennis courts, it was very clear to me, at least, that we could not build a dramatic, modern building on that site. It had to, in fact, flow from what is in the upper campus through Dillon down into the lower campus, and it had to reflect our traditions, our beloved traditions of collegiate gothic. On the other hand, once you get over into the area of Washington Road, that is a place where we have been engaging very modern-looking, modern, forward-thinking architects. Every one of them a master, and I would include in this category Bob Venturi, who has done many buildings in that part of the campus for us. I would include Rafael Vinoly, who has now given us two magnificent buildings, if I do say so myself, having been the client for one of them — the stadium and the genomics institute; Harry Cobb, who did the Friend Engineering Library for us and is going to do Butler College, the renovations in Butler College; and, what is arguably one of the most influential architects of our time, Frank Gehry. And having seen the designs for the science library, having seen what he has done on that site, I think it is going to be simply magnificent, simply magnificent. For those of you who have been in Bilbao, for those of you who have been in Los Angeles since the Disney Hall opened, this is an extraordinarily creative architect, and I’m proud that we will have a piece of his work on our campus.

I think we have time for one more question ....

Q: Hi, my husband isn’t here. He is a graduate of the Class of ‘64, but I just wanted to tell you that he was able to come to Princeton on a full scholarship. His family could not have afforded it, and he has been a wonderful financial supporter of the college all these years. He’s very proud that he came here, and he’s been a wonderful humanitarian, and he was very emotional as you were speaking, and he had to leave for his class picture, but he just wanted me to tell you that he admires your morals, your ethics, and he is just so delighted that you are now here at Princeton. Thank you.

A: Thank you.

Q: Thank you. Good morning, President Tilghman. I’m in the Class of ’99, and you spoke about traditions earlier in your remarks, and my class was, I believe, the penultimate class to participate in one of Princeton’s traditions, which is the Nude Olympics, and as you’re probably aware, Harvard College has a very similar tradition that takes place in mid-January or mid-May, in which Harvard students run around naked at midnight for about 15 minutes, and I’ve had a chance to witness this, and it turns out to be a pretty clean and sober event, and my question is, to your administration, is Would you ever reconsider the previous administration’s decision to ban that event, or is it your position that Harvard students are more mature and more responsible and more capable than we are?

A: All I can say is nice try. With that, I think we will call the conversation to an end. Thank you all for coming.