Recounting the Wilson School's 75 years 'in the nation's service'

Oct. 24, 2005 3:30 p.m.
Fall lecture

Edmund Hull, the first ambassador-in-residence at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, recently gave a lecture on "The War on Terror: Who's Winning?" A 1971 graduate of the Wilson School, Hull served as U.S. ambassador to Yemen from 2001 to 2004 and has more than 30 years of experience in the Middle East. His appointment is part of an effort by the Wilson School as it celebrates its 75th anniversary to further globalize its outlook and curriculum.

Below left: Hull spoke to a full room in 16 Robertson Hall.

Photos: John Jameson

As part of this year's 75th anniversary celebration, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has published a book tracing its history.

"In the Nation's Service: 75 Years at the Woodrow Wilson School" was written by Barton Gellman, a 1982 graduate of the school who is a special projects reporter at The Washington Post, and Beth English, a research associate at the school's Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. It was produced by the Office of Communications.

According to the book:

• In 1929 the class of 1903 donated funds for the creation of a memorial to Woodrow Wilson, an 1879 Princeton graduate who became Princeton's president in 1902, governor of New Jersey in 1911 and president of the United States in 1913.

• Princeton trustees unanimously approved a proposal to create the School of Public and International Affairs in 1930. It was intended to focus on preparing undergraduates for careers in public service, with students completing an interdisciplinary course of study in history, economics, politics and modern languages.

• As early as 1935, University trustees had endorsed a plan to rename the school after Woodrow Wilson. But they could go no further without raising the funds for an endowment to ensure long-term solvency. Following the Depression and World War II, donations began increasing, and a University development effort following the war earmarked $2 million to expand and rename the school.

• In 1948, trustees named the school for Wilson and established a graduate program, which was designed in close collaboration with the government it intended to serve.

Fall lecture

• In 1961, an anonymous donor provided $35 million to help the school prepare a cadre of future leaders "to defend and extend freedom throughout the world." It was the largest gift in Princeton's history and among the largest to any American university at the time. The school began planning for a "fundamental reorganization and bold expansion" of its graduate curriculum, faculty, student body and physical plant.

• The identities of the donors of the large gift for the school were revealed in 1973: Marie Robertson, whose father helped found the A&P grocery store company, and her husband, Charles Robertson, a member of Princeton's class of 1926. The building housing the school was renamed Robertson Hall in 1988.

• Throughout its history, a hallmark of the school has been its commitment to educational innovation, scholarly excellence and public service. The book recounts the school's responsiveness to the social, economic and political changes of the past 75 years, including descriptions of the people and events that have shaped the school's role. As current dean and 1980 school alumna Anne-Marie Slaughter puts it in the foreword: "The Wilson School community has always believed it can change the world, and growing older has only strengthened our commitment and our capacity."

More information on the Wilson School's 75th anniversary is
available online.