Installation speakers offer accolades, assurance, advice

The full text of the greetings from participants in the installation ceremony is available by clicking here .

Princeton University's new president, Shirley M. Tilghman, received accolades, assurance and a little advice from participants in her installation ceremony Friday.

The ceremony included greetings from members of various University constituencies and from Richard Levin, president of Yale University, who represented the higher-education community.

"The entire community of higher education is grateful to Princeton's trustees for their inspired choice of a distinguished scientist and independent thinker -- a woman well suited to take a prominent place in the great line of modern presidents of Princeton from Woodrow Wilson and Harold Dodds to Robert Goheen, William Bowen and Harold Shapiro," said Levin.

He spoke of the challenges facing university leaders following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, ranging from helping students cope with the national tragedy to preserving freedom of expression and inquiry.

"I don't imagine that the tasks I have just described were highlighted in the job description the trustees gave Shirley Tilghman six months ago," Levin said. "But somewhere in the fine print it undoubtedly said: 'The president will need to rise to unexpected challenges.' We know that she will."

Matthew Fouse, president of the Graduate Student Government, said that members of the University community have already witnessed Tilghman's leadership in action following the Sept. 11 events.

"During this difficult time, President Tilghman has demonstrated her commitment to the University community by forging a balanced, forward-thinking and campuswide response to this crisis," Fouse said. "Princeton remains a unified community, where diversity of thought and experience are not just tolerated, but celebrated. We have a duty and a responsibility, in service to this nation and all peoples, to maintain such a community, to work constantly to improve it and to offer its ideals to the larger world community. I sincerely believe that President Tilghman's leadership will guide us on our journey towards those goals."

Diane deCordova, president of the Alumni Association, echoed the confidence in Tilghman's ability to lead.

"As we assemble here today, we are all acutely aware that a new era has dawned, not just here at Princeton, but globally. As a member of the University's renowned faculty, you have already shown your leadership in researching and teaching matters of concern to humanity," she told Tilghman. "In this new era, in your role as president, we know you will ensure that Princeton continues to educate caring, responsible citizens of the world as this becomes even more important."

Joseph Taylor, dean of the faculty, spoke enthusiastically of Tilghman's choice as president, noting her 15 years on the Princeton faculty.

"We welcome you so warmly because we are confident you will show the same qualities of wisdom, humanity and willingness to tackle tough problems that you have shown us for so many years as a scientist and teacher," Taylor said. "You have had a great impact on this university; we all work in a better place because of things you have accomplished while among us. We look forward to many fruitful years of working together with you in the nation's service, and in the service of all nations."

"For myself," he quipped, "I only ask that some time, in the not too distant future, you allow me the satisfaction of arriving at work before you do in the morning."

Associate Provost Joann Mitchell represented the University's 3,200-member staff which, she noted, has a collective 35,000 years of service.

"We are fortunate that the trustees have selected a president who values the staff and recognizes us as a quiet and powerful force that supports and nurtures an incredibly talented student body, facilitates the teaching and research of an extraordinary faculty and takes very seriously the stewardship of the University's vast physical, fiscal and human resources," she said.

Mitchell praised Tilghman's dealings with the staff since taking office on June 15: "President Tilghman's inclusive leadership style has invited the exchange of ideas. Her ability to listen as she formulates policies or makes difficult decisions has conveyed her appreciation of the expertise and experiences of others, and most of all her warm and engaging manner with all she encounters demonstrates her respect for the dignity and worth of each member of this community."

Joseph Kochan, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, offered Tilghman some insights from his semester of experience as "a president of Princeton" to help her in the transition from faculty member.

With tongue firmly in cheek, he told Tilghman that he had compiled a list of subjects that undergraduates hold "most dear." He quoted from a student's e-mail message to him complaining about the shortage of white cheese for the burgers at the Frist Campus Center and from another suggesting that swing sets be erected on campus.

"I do have one serious item with which to present you," Kochan said, "and that is the collective well-wishes of the undergraduate student body. As I told you last spring, I received numerous messages from students who were overjoyed to hear that this school that they love so much had been left in such capable hands. Princeton prides itself on its commitment to its undergraduates, and those undergraduates stand together today to wish you nothing but the very best in the years to come."

Tilghman took office on June 15, succeeding Harold T. Shapiro, who retired from the presidency following more than 13 years of service. A member of the Princeton faculty since 1986, she has served as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences and as the director of the University's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. To read the full news release announcing Tilghman's appointment, click here .

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601