Notebook: May 7, 1997
Poll Ranks Princeton Second Overall
Among private universities, it places first in arts and humanities
A new study of 200 research universities in the United States ranks Princeton second (behind Stanford) overall among private institutions. Princeton placed first among private schools in the arts and humanities, fifth in the sciences, and seventh in the social sciences.
Hugh Davis Graham and Nancy Diamond published their findings in the book The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era (Johns Hopkins University Press). Graham is a professor of American history at Vanderbilt University. Diamond, an administrator at Goucher College, is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland.
Relying on objective measurements rather than reputations (the basis for most previous studies of academic excellence), the study attempts to pinpoint top research centers that have emerged since World War II. The authors measured scholarly research activity-the creation of new knowledge in everything from medical science to the classics. They adjusted for the size of an institution's faculty, producing a per-capita measure that permitted the comparison of universities with smaller and larger enrollments. Performance was examined in three benchmark periods: 1968, 1973-74, and the mid-1980s to 1990. The five numerical indexes used to measure productivity were: money received from federal grants; the number of scholarly articles published overall; articles in top-rated science and social-science publications; and fellowships in the arts and humanities. Private and public universities were ranked separately; four subdivisions were created to sort campuses into groups showing similar levels of performance.
Among private institutions, Princeton's fifth-place ranking in the sciences was especially impressive, given its lack of a medical school to bolster its figures in research dollars and publications.
Princeton and other small schools benefited from the study's methodology, which was based on averages per professor instead of overall totals. In Princeton's case, said Graham, it showed that "pound for pound, you've got a higher quality output" in research-"Princeton surprised us in that it looked more like MIT and Cal Tech on the science side." Princeton's strength in the arts and humanities, he added, "rocketed up" its rating. "Princeton has the best of both worlds."
The study's biggest surprises were in its rankings of public institutions, with strong showings for the University of California at Santa Barbara and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The authors said that among private institutions, the top five in combined rankings brought no surprises, other than their order. The University of Chicago and Harvard tied for third place, and Yale was fifth.
In Memoriam: Dicke and Spitzer
Two of the university's most prominent scientists, Robert H. Dicke '39 and Lyman Spitzer, Jr. *38, died in March. Dicke is widely known for his leadership in developing experimental tests of gravity physics and of the standard gravitational model for the large-scale evolution of the universe. Spitzer, a leading astrophysicist and the founder of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, conceived the large-scale observatory that became the Hubble Space Telescope.
Dicke, the Albert Einstein Professor of Science, emeritus, died March 4 at his home in Princeton of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 80. Dicke was responsible for a famous 1965 paper proposing that the then-mysterious background radiation permeating the universe is left over from the big bang. He invented the instrument used to detect this radiation, called the Dicke radiometer, now a standard astronomical tool. He is also credited with numerous patents related to the development of radar and laser technology and for his theoretical work challenging Einstein's general theory of relativity. Dicke was unusual in making important contributions as both a theoretical and experimental physicist. "He is one of those very rare people who does both well," his colleague, David T. Wilkinson, told PAW in 1980.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dicke received his Ph.D. in 1941 from the University of Rochester. He joined the staff of MIT's Radiation Laboratory in 1941 and came to Princeton in 1946. Dicke headed the physics department from 1967 to 1970. He retired in 1984.
In 1970 Dicke received the U.S. Medal of Science, the nation's highest award for achievement in science. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Edinburgh, the University of Rochester (which he attended for two years before transferring to Princeton), and Ohio Northern University.
Spitzer, the Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy, emeritus, died of heart disease March 31 at his Princeton home. He was 82. His contributions included fundamental advances in four fields-the interstellar medium, stellar dynamics, plasma physics, and space astronomy. "Spitzer has chosen big problems to work on, and somehow, for him, complexities unravel and the fundamental simplicities become apparent," Provost Jeremiah P. Ostriker wrote in the introduction to Dreams, Stars and Electrons: Selected Writings of Lyman Spitzer, Jr., recently published by Princeton University Press.
In 1951, he convinced the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to try harness the nuclear burning of hydrogen at temperatures found on the sun. First approved as Project Matterhorn, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at the James Forrestal Campus became a world leader in the quest to develop controlled nuclear fusion. After shepherding its creation, Spitzer led PPPL until 1967.
In theoretical physics, Spitzer is credited with the founding of the discipline of interstellar matter, which concerns the gas and dust between the stars from which new stars form. In a 1946 report, more than a decade before the launch of the first artificial satellite, he proposed the development of large space telescopes. Under his direction, a group of university scientists developed the 32-inch Copernicus ultraviolet satellite, launched in 1972, and later he steered the development of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Spitzer received his bachelor's degree from Yale in 1935. He spent a year at St. John's College, Cambridge University, before earning his Ph.D. at Princeton. He served on the Yale faculty from 1939 to 1942 before wartime service at Columbia University, then returned briefly to Yale before joining the Princeton faculty in 1947.
Admissions Accepts 12.6 Percent
The office of admission mailed acceptance letters to 1,123 prospective students April 1 who applied for admission to the Class of 2001. The number of applicants, 13,400, was down 1,469 from last year, when a record total 14,869 applied. Together with the 567 applicants who were offered early admission in December (students apply for early decision with the understanding that they will enroll if accepted), a total of 1,690 of the applicants-12.6 percent-have been offered admission to the incoming freshman class. Last year only 11.3 percent of the applicant pool was offered admission.
Dean of Admission Fred A. Hargadon said the targeted number of students for the Class of 2001 is the same as that for the Class of 2000-1,130. About 30 students are expected to be drawn from the waiting list. The class size is being kept at 1,130 "because of the infamous class of 1999," Hargadon explained, referring to the current class of 1,213 sophomores, which accepted the university's offer of admission in unexpected numbers.
"The applicant pool was as strong as ever and the decisions as difficult as ever," said Hargadon. Forty-nine percent of the applicants had combined SAT scores of 1,400 or higher, and 3,650 had grade-point averages of 4.0. Additionally, many presented exceptional accomplishments in one or more extracurricular areas.
Of those applicants offered admission, 53 percent are men and 47 percent are women, the same ratio as last year. Approximately 33 percent of admitted applicants are members of minority groups. Children of alumni make up about 10 percent of the those admitted, also about the same as last year.
Princeton Profile: Grounds Manager Jim Consolloy Covers 2,300 Acres
Jim Consolloy, grounds manager for Grounds and Building Maintenance, has two offices. One is in Macmillan Building. The other, more capacious, is 2,300 acres of university property. "I've spent most of my life working outdoors, first in landscape construction, then in grounds management," he says. "There isn't any part of the campus that doesn't feel like home."
Consolloy and his 37-man crew are charged with maintaining all campus grounds and paved surfaces, and Consolloy knows every inch of that purview. In his (indoor) office is a wall-size campus map divided into 88 quadrants, with all plantings, walkways, and parking lots indicated. Each quadrant also occupies a separate file in the cabinet, on the computer, and in Consolloy's head. Ask him what's growing in the center of Brown Hall courtyard and he answers immediately, "Bristlecone pine." Or ask him what material was used for the new Nassau Green walkway: "Brick from Marion, South Carolina, chosen to match the older brick in the Maclean House Garden, which was made in Redfield, Iowa, and bluestone from Endless Mountain Quarry in New York state."
In fair weather and foul, Consolloy can be seen touring the campus. Mostly he is on foot, but, if he has to cover a lot of territory, or if the snow is deep, he'll drive. Mornings he reviews campus maintenance with his foremen. "We look at specific areas that need to be cleaned up, like the parking lots and fields after a campus event. We're always on the lookout for damaged sidewalks, broken tree limbs, chipped curbing, plantings that don't look healthy. And of course, in the winter, we're concerned that the parking lots, roads, and walkways are clear."
Afternoons are devoted to major maintenance and capital projects, and often involve meetings with subcontractors, in Macmillan or on site. Typical projects, Consolloy says, are the recent restoration of Holder walkways and the new graduate student parking lot on Ivy Lane. "There's always something going on. We generally have several subcontractors working on campus during the academic year, and as many as 10 during the summer."
A morning's phone calls give some idea of the range of the grounds manager's activities. A plant broker calls about an order of 125 trees and 320 evergreen shrubs. A student who damaged some university property calls to schedule the community service he is performing in restitution. The principal of a local elementary school requests advice about projected plantings in the school courtyard. The father of a Princeton undergraduate allergy sufferer calls to find out exactly what plants grow outside his son's dorm window. A bride-to-be wants to know the name of the tree under which she will be married next spring in Prospect Garden.
Consolloy's chief satisfaction resides in creating "new plantings and walks for the campus," such as the new pathways in McCosh Courtyard. When Consolloy and his wife Patricia visited the Breakers, the Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, three years ago, he was impressed by a beveled granite edging on the mansion's grounds. Unfortunately, granite turned out to be too costly for the McCosh renovations, but the courtyard now boasts beveled bluestone curbing. "It will hold up to the snowplows," Consolloy believes, "and because of the bevel, cyclists don't skin their ankles."
He likes the stones and bricks, but he loves the trees and shrubs. A certified tree expert, Consolloy will do anything he can to preserve his arboreal charges. When difficult decisions must be made, Consolloy consults with fellow tree maven John Kuser '46, a Princeton resident who is associate professor of forestry and environmental resources at Cook College, Rutgers University. Consolloy also works with Bartlett Tree Experts and other local arborists. "Bartlett recommended we take down the tree by Clio Hall on Elm Drive because it has Dutch Elm disease. We've spent a lot of time working on it," he says sadly. "It's a nifty old elm, but we're going to have to take it down." He hopes to save its neighbor, which is still under treatment.
Born in Trenton, Consolloy grew up in nearby Pennington on land that belonged to the Howe Nurseries. Even as a child, he says, "I was fascinated by the number and variety of plants around me." His first job was at Washington Crossing State Park, sorting seedlings for the State Forest Nursery. A 1969 graduate of Upsala College with a degree in biology, Consolloy did graduate work in horticulture at Rutgers and worked at several nurseries in New Jersey before coming to Princeton in 1989.
Consolloy freely shares his expertise. When the Class of 1976 wanted to plant a tree to mark its 20th reunion, Consolloy, an honorary class member, helped the committee choose a Frainetto oak, which is now situated near Brown Hall, opposite Dillon Gymnasium.
Video Tells Story of Blacks at Princeton
Bruce Wright applied to Princeton and was admitted in the early 1930s. But when he presented himself on campus as a freshman, he was removed from the registration line and taken to the director of admission, Radcliffe Heermance *09. "He said, 'If you're trying to come here, you're going to be someplace where you're not wanted,' " recalls Wright, who became a New York state supreme court justice.
Wright told his story to Melvin McCray '74, who has recorded it along with the stories of many African Americans who did attend Princeton, in the video Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni. The video was produced by McCray and Calvin Norman '77 under the auspices of the 250th Anniversary, in conjunction with the Association of Black Princeton Alumni (ABPA) and the Alumni Council. McCray is a videotape editor at ABC with World News Tonight With Peter Jennings; Norman, a former colleague in advertising with WABC, is a vice-president of ABPA.
The original plan for Looking Back involved some 12 or 15 interviews, says McCray, but "people kept referring me to other people. When I'd follow up the leads, the subjects would drop these bombs, and I'd think, 'I have to get that on film.' "
The finished product includes the voices of 50 living people: 35 African-American undergraduate alumni in classes from 1947 to 1996, three Princeton presidents (Robert F. Goheen '40 *48, William G. Bowen *58, and Harold T. Shapiro *64), two African-American administrators (Carl Fields, assistant dean of the college from 1964 to 1971, and Franklin Moore, associate director of admissions from 1970 to 1980), and a few others.
It also includes several historical voices, including that of Woodrow Wilson, who wrote a prospective applicant in 1909, "It is altogether inadvisable for a colored man to enter Princeton."
Princeton's whites-only policy was virtually unchallenged until World War II, when a group of students led by Frank Broderick and Philip Quigg, both of the Class of 1943, launched a vigorous campaign in The Daily Princetonian protesting it. Despite their efforts, the first African-American students arrived on campus not as regular admittees but as members of the Navy's wartime V-12 officer-training program. One of these, John Howard '47, became the first black person to earn a Princeton degree.
Howard has happy memories of his undergraduate days. In Looking Back, he says, "I never had any unfriendly encounters." James Ward '48, who was admitted to Princeton under the same Navy program, recalls a very different social climate. "I had certain people I associated with during the week. On the weekends, when their friends and family came, if they spoke to me, I would speak to them; if they did not, that was a clue to me that they would just as soon not be deemed to be an associate of mine."
According to McCray, "One of the surprises for me in making this video was that people had similar things to say, no matter what their era. And they had contradictory things to say, too. Some people said they had zero negative experiences, and others had a much more difficult time. This was true for the handful of black undergraduates in the late '40s, and it was still true in the '60s, the '70s, and even the '90s."
Overall, the video highlights the students of the '60s and '70s, when the number of black undergraduates went from seven in 1962 to 318 in 1970. "The students of those years were really the trailblazers," says McCray. And the times, they were a-changin'. James Floyd '69 joined Tower Club, where his grandfather had worked as a steward. "I became a member, and later an officer, and now I'm on the graduate board. So we've gone from the servant class to the ruling class in two generations," Floyd observes in the video, his eyes twinkling.
Despite much progress in increasing the diversity and inclusivity of Princeton, "Our aspirations are moving ahead, if anything, even faster than our achievements," President Shapiro says in Looking Back. "Princeton still has a good way to go before we can feel we have given everyone in America a chance to participate here."
Looking Back, which will be shown on campus throughout Reunions, is available through the Alumni Council's Books on Tape Program (call 609-258-5262).
Nobel Laureate Named Dean of Faculty
Joseph Taylor, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics, will become the dean of the faculty, effective July 1. He will succeed Amy Gutmann, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics, who will return to her work in the politics department and at the Center for Human Values.
Taylor, who has been a member of the faculty since 1980, shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics. He contributed some of his Nobel Prize money to set up a fund to support graduate students in physics. His work with binary pulsars-paired stars in mutual orbit, one of which emits radio signals in pulses-has provided experimental confirmation of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
The dean-designate received his bachelor's degree in physics from Haverford College in 1963 and his doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University in 1968. He joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in 1969. From 1977 to 1981, he served as associate director of the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, based in western Massachusetts. Taylor joined Princeton's faculty in 1980.
As dean of the faculty, Taylor will help recruit faculty members and oversee appointments and promotions. "I don't have an agenda in mind," he said of his new job. "I have a large pair of shoes to fill in following Amy Gutmann, and if there are any changes made, they will not be revolutionary. I'm especially attracted by the challenges of keeping Princeton the very best in fields where it already is the best, and of working to make it that way where it is not."