Public Statements

Former Gov. Tom Kean to succeed Jay Sherrerd on Robertson board

by Staff · May 01, 2007; 11:00 a.m.

Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman has informed members of the Robertson Foundation board of trustees that longtime trustee John J.F. Sherrerd has decided to retire as a University-designated member of the board, and that he is being succeeded by Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor, president of Drew University and chair of the 9/11 Commission.

The Robertson Foundation was formed in 1961 to expand and support the graduate program of Princeton 's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. It was created following a gift of $35 million from Marie Robertson, whose husband, Charles, was a member of the Princeton class of 1926.

"Jay Sherrerd has made extraordinary contributions to the Robertson Foundation in two capacities," Tilghman said, "as a wise and thoughtful trustee since 1982, and as the only chair the foundation's investment committee has ever had. He took on that role even before he joined the board, at a time when the foundation's endowment was just under $34 million. Under his leadership, the endowment has now grown to more than $840 million, even as it has also contributed a total of more than $315 million to expand and support the Woodrow Wilson School 's graduate program.

"While I regret that Jay has decided to retire from the board, I am very pleased that Tom Kean has agreed to succeed Jay as a University-designated trustee," Tilghman added. "I know of no one in public life who commands greater respect for integrity, fair treatment, clear vision and an abiding commitment to the public good. His government service and his international affairs experience will provide invaluable benefits to the foundation and to the graduate program of the Woodrow Wilson School , and I greatly look forward to his service on the board."

A 1957 Princeton graduate who then earned a master's degree in history from Columbia University Teachers College and taught history and government, Kean served for 10 years in the New Jersey Assembly, rising to the positions of majority leader, minority leader and speaker, before being elected governor of New Jersey in 1982. An exceptionally popular governor, Kean also became a national leader, chairing both the Education Commission of the States and the National Governors Association Task Force on Teaching. In 1990 he was elected president of Drew University , a position he held until 2005. A member of the board of trustees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation since 1990, he was elected chair of that board in 2005. He is also a former chair of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the National Environmental Education Foundation and a former member of the National Endowment for Democracy.

In 2002, Kean was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), an independent bipartisan commission that issued a final report in 2004 with the unanimous endorsement of its members. The commission is widely regarded as one of the most influential in American history and its report was nominated for a National Book Award.   

In commenting on his appointment to the Robertson Foundation board, Kean said, "For more than 50 years I have had a deep appreciation for the contributions the Woodrow Wilson School makes to our country and the world. I have great regard for the support the Robertson Foundation has provided to enable the school to expand and strengthen its graduate program. At a time when our government and our country need well prepared people in leadership positions more than ever before, I welcome this opportunity to serve on the board of the foundation and to participate actively in its deliberations."  

The Robertson Foundation is organized under the U.S. tax code as a supporting organization of Princeton University. Its seven trustees include the president of the University, three other members designated by the University and three members designated by the Robertson family. The foundation's governance structure was created in 1961 following the Robertson donation in 1961, and Charles Robertson served as president of the foundation board for its first 20 years. Since 1981 the board has been chaired by the president of the University.