Tilghman to present annual James Baldwin Lecture

Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman will deliver the annual James Baldwin Lecture in an address titled "The Meaning of Race in the Post-Genome Era" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, on the University campus. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are needed for entry. 

The lecture series is sponsored by Princeton's Center for African American Studies and aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to reflect on issues of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist and novelist James Baldwin, one of America's most powerful cultural critics who exemplified ways to remain critically focused on the relationship of race to democracy in American society.

"I can think of no better person to deliver the Baldwin Lecture than President Tilghman," said Eddie Glaude, chair of the Center for African American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion. "She is a visionary in the truest sense of the word. She understands clearly the incredibly vexed nature of any discussion of race and American democracy. What she has to say about the meaning of race in a post-genomic age will extend far beyond Princeton's gates. And this is indeed in keeping with the spirit of James Baldwin."

Tilghman, a professor of molecular biology, was elected president of Princeton in 2001. Under her leadership, the University has made great strides in academic initiatives focusing on race in America. Most notably, Tilghman oversaw the establishment in 2006 of the Center for African American Studies after the program existed as an academic certificate program for 37 years.

Tilghman's accomplishments in bringing to the fore the central role of race in a liberal arts education have been recognized beyond the Princeton campus.

In 2009, Tilghman was awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, the highest honor bestowed by Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, for her leadership in strengthening Princeton's commitment to African American studies.

In accepting the medal, Tilghman said that Princeton's expanded, multidisciplinary exploration of the role of race in society "is critically important for training the next generation of scholars who are going to take us past the past and past the present and into a future ... that is better than what we have now."

"But it is also equally important that every single student who passes through the gates of Princeton University ... encounters issues surrounding race in general and the African American experience in particular, because that is the only way that the future indeed is going to be better," she added.

Tilghman has been a member of Princeton's faculty since 1986. She was an architect of the Human Genome Project and founding director of the University's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. As president, she has overseen a significant expansion of Princeton's residential college system, the creation of a neuroscience institute and a major new commitment to the creative and performing arts, among other initiatives. She also has provided national leadership on issues relating to higher education, federal science policy and women in science.

Lecture tickets for Princeton University students, faculty and staff will be available beginning at noon Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Frist Campus Center ticket office, continuing from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday while supplies last. There is a limit of two tickets per TigerCard University ID. Tickets also may be reserved by calling University Ticketing at (609) 258-9220.

Tickets for the general public will be available from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, March 1, at the Richardson Auditorium box office. After March 1, tickets for the general public will be available at the Frist Campus Center ticket office from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday while supplies last. There is a limit of two tickets per person.

For individuals without tickets, there will be a wait line outside Richardson Auditorium on March 9 for any seats that remain after 5:20 p.m.

The lecture also will be Webcast live and archived online for later viewing.

Individuals watching the Webcast of the event will be able to engage other viewers via the social media tools Facebook and Twitter. Join the discussion at www.princeton.edu/live

Media interested in attending the lecture must RSVP no later than noon Friday, March 5, by e-mailing Emily Aronson.