While I was pleased to have news of my long-lost friend from graduate school days, Peter Lighte *81, I was dismayed that he completely misconstrued the point of my letter in the March 10 PAW. My intention was to question Princeton’s use of the term “success stories” in reference to music majors who become investment bankers when the University encourages majoring in the small departments. My hope is that an educational institution such as Princeton would send students the message that success comes in many forms, not all of them financial.
Addressing his “pal” incorrectly as “Janet,” Peter makes the uninformed assertion that I embrace a Manichean world view and glorify art while vilifying trade. How could I? After receiving a doctorate in Romance languages and literatures, I became managing editor of the business journals Directors & Boards and Mergers & Acquisitions and for the past 22 years have worked in the fundraising profession. (At times I feel that studying surrealism for my dissertation prepared me for that career.) Once when someone expressed doubt about the suitability of my academic background to raising money, Hugh Wynne ’39 replied “A person who can earn a Ph.D. from Princeton can do anything.” Hugh’s observation is more in line with the message I would like West College to convey about majoring in the small departments, because it is devoid of the value judgment that the word “success” implies.
In no way would I ever demean my many Princetonian friends who work in the financial sector, two of whom spoke to me about my letter with a smile, not a sneer. By the same token, I am grateful that groundbreaking composer Milton Babbitt *42 *92, renowned pianist Robert Taub ’77 and world-class conductor Hobart Earle ’83 cooperated with their gifts. I hope that Princeton counts these wonderful musicians, along with corporate CEOs, among the University’s most successful alumni.
Janice Stultz Roddenbery *77
As an employee of J.P. Morgan/Chase, I read, with great amusement, my pal Janet Stultz Roddenbery's confession (Improving Education) that she did not know the name of the firm's chairman.
That I had heard of Mozart, despite being a banker, as well as Bill Harrison, because I am one, neither denigrates the composer nor ennobles the financier. Her anxiety about music majors ending up as investment bankers illustrates a Manichaean view of the world which perpetuates the myth of a great divide between the glory of art and the vulgarity of trade.
Harking from the East Asian Studies department myself, where everything after the Ming was considered journalism, my daily behaviour--at both home and office, has been profoundly informed by 'The Analects' of Confucius, calligraphy and the words of Professor F. W. Mote; and the very people I care most about are unknowingly touched by these souvenirs of my education. If only more musicians, classicists, sinologists, etc., would find their way across the abyss, the world today would be a better place; furthermore, posterity just might benefit from more than the afterglow of a random genius.
Fear not, Janet the smaller departments will always be available to folks who live everywhere but in the present.
Peter Rupert Lighte *81
The majors article contains the statement that success stories from the smaller departments show that music majors can be investment bankers.
When defining success, does Princeton elevate bankers while diminishing musicians? I confess that I have no idea who the Chairman of JP Morgan Chase is, but I will never forget who Mozart was.
Janice Stultz Roddenbery *77
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