Book marks 50th year of Forrestal Campus

June 14, 2002 9:42 a.m.

years ago last month, 450 people gathered in Plainsboro, N.J., to dedicate Princeton's new James Forrestal Research Center. The acquisition of the 825-acre complex on U.S. 1 marked a critical juncture in the University's history, enabling it to become a leader in government-sponsored research.

The story of the people and events behind what is now known as the Forrestal Campus is chronicled in a new book, "Princeton's James Forrestal Campus: 50 Years of Sponsored Research," written by J.I. "Jim" Merritt and published by the University. The book was printed in honor of the 50th anniversary of the campus, which began operating in fall 1951 and was dedicated on May 17, 1952.

Merritt said that Seymour Bogdonoff, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Aeronautical Engineering Emeritus, came to the University administration about four years ago with concerns about the Forrestal legacy. "He felt that many people didn't know what had gone on out at Forrestal and how important Forrestal had been to the University's research agenda over the years," Merritt said. "He was worried this history was going to be lost."

Merritt, a 1966 Princeton graduate, worked at the University for 24 years in a variety of administrative positions, including serving as a press officer in the Office of Communications. He was editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly from 1989 to 1999. Over the course of his career, he had written many stories about the Forrestal Campus and science and engineering research at the University.

With the support of Robert Durkee, vice president for public affairs, Merritt began working with Bogdonoff on the Forrestal book in 1998. In addition to conducting interviews with Bogdonoff, who had been a faculty member since the 1940s, Merritt met with other early members of the aeronautical engineering department, did research in the University archives and read the memoir of Courtland Perkins, the second chair of the department.

To read the full story in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin, click here .

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601