Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber has received the U.S. Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian honor given by the Secretary of the Navy. The award is given to someone who has "demonstrated exceptionally outstanding service of substantial and long-term benefit" to the Navy.
In his citation letter, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Eisgruber has "been an advocate for the Navy and our service members." The University re-established its Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) in 2014, and Mabus and Eisgruber launched the reinstated program during a signing ceremony on campus that year.
"I am pleased to recognize your outstanding contributions to the Navy and Marine Corps team," Mabus wrote to Eisgruber.
Eisgruber said he was "deeply honored" by the award, which has been given since 1951 to recognize citizens' service to the Navy, Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy as a whole.
"I accept it humbly and with the conviction that my service to the Navy is modest indeed by comparison to the courage and leadership that the men and women of the United States Navy provide to our country on a daily basis," Eisgruber said in a letter to Mabus.
Initially established in 1945, the Princeton NROTC program remained active on campus until 1971. In 2014, Eisgruber announced that Princeton students would again have the opportunity to participate in the NROTC college-option program through a crosstown agreement among Princeton, the Navy and Rutgers University. NROTC active duty Navy and Marine Corps instructors teach NROTC midshipmen on the Rutgers or Princeton campuses, giving students the opportunity to earn a commission in the United States naval service.
Eisgruber said he was pleased a new generation of students have the opportunity to benefit from NROTC's leadership training and character building as part of their Princeton education, noting the program as an example of the University's informal motto "In the Nation's Service and the Service of Humanity."
This fall had the largest group of students participating in NROTC since the program was restored.
"I am glad the Navy is back at Princeton and that we can renew this University's proud connection to the Navy," Eisgruber said.
In addition to the Navy ROTC, Princeton has offered an Army ROTC program since 1919 and also has an Air Force ROTC program through a crosstown agreement with Rutgers.