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A letter from an alum about PU rankings

October 9, 2003

Princeton's black squirrels figured briefly, but importantly, in my college career.

On my only tour of colleges north of Athens, Georgia, I visited Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, and Princeton, in that order. My Princeton interviewer noted (accurately, although I had no idea at the time) that those are three very different schools.

Why, those schools, she asked, and why Princeton? The questions caught me off guard, and my answer was unrehearsed. I explained that all three schools had black squirrel populations, but no, that was not really the connection. I had no good answer to the first question, so I went on to the second. At Northwestern, the squirrels had ignored me; at Hopkins, they ran away; but at Princeton, they came near and begged food. From this I concluded that students at Princeton had time to feed the squirrels and, I assumed, to smell the roses too.

When she stopped laughing, she said no promises, but she'd see what she could do for me. Some months later, William Ruckelshaus '57 explained to my entering class why he had chosen Princeton: "I liked the way the name sounded," he said, letting the name roll out: "PRINCE-ton". But what's in a name? I'll take the squirrels any day.

John Williamson '81
Kennesaw, Ga.

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