The Princetoniana Committee: Keepers of Traditions Old and New

ptoniana-jacketsIf you’ve ever noticed the quotations rendered in large block letters on the walls of Frist Campus Center, watched a freshman Pre-rade and Step Sing, or viewed the Reunion and beer jacket exhibits in Maclean House, then you’ve experienced the handiwork of the Princetoniana Committee.

“The Princetoniana Committee is focused around the history and traditions of Princeton, familiarizing people with those and constructing traditions as they go along,” said former committee chair Gregg Lange ’70. “One reason we do that … is to give people a sense of belonging, a sense of import, and a sense of context to what they’re doing and why.”

More than archivists, members of the Princetoniana Committee are actively contributing to the University’s traditions. Just 11 years ago, the committee inaugurated the Pre-rade as a way to welcome freshmen to the Princeton community. A few years later, the committee added a Step Sing on the steps of Blair Arch after the Pre-rade as a way to ensure that freshmen knew the words to “Old Nassau.”

According to current chair Sev Onyshkevych ’83, the Princetoniana Committee was founded in 1981 after the death of Frederic Fox ’39, who was the University’s recording secretary for 17 years and earned the title “Keeper of Princetoniana.” Fox’s classmate Hugh (“Bud”) Wynne established the committee under the Alumni Council as a way to continue Fox’s work in preserving Princeton traditions.

“What one person did, we now have a committee of 40 doing,” Onyshkevych said. Continue reading

PAW Goes to the Movies: Does Pitch Perfect 2 Resonate with the Wildcats?

From left, Wildcats a cappella members Kat Giordano ’18, Arianna Lanz ’17, and Samone Blair ’18 review Pitch Perfect 2 with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83. (Beverly Schaefer)

From left, Wildcats a cappella members Kat Giordano ’18, Arianna Lanz ’17, and Samone Blair ’18 review Pitch Perfect 2 with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83. (Beverly Schaefer)

The Barden Bellas are back. The Bellas, the female singing group from fictional Barden College, showed the inner workings of a cappella and made Pitch Perfect a surprise box office hit in 2012. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and the rest of the group return in this summer’s sequel, Pitch Perfect 2. After winning the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) tournament in the original, the Bellas set their sights on the world championships in Copenhagen, with a new member joining the group. Did the filmmakers get it right? Who better to ask than a group of a cappella singers?

In another installment of our periodic series, PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 took three members of the Wildcats — Arianna Lanz ’17, Kat Giordano ’18, and Samone Blair ’18 — to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then discuss how Hollywood’s conception of a cappella compares with the real thing. Here are some excerpts from their conversation.

MFB: What did you think of the movie?

SB: I loved it.

KD: The original was funnier, but the sequel definitely built on it. The central themes of a cappella and intergroup love were all there.

AL: The movie is dripping in clichés but it’s still enjoyable and entertaining. As far as life in a cappella goes, we’re not a sorority and we don’t all live together. The Wildcats are like sisters and we love each other, but it’s not like we spend all of our time together. We all have other interests and activities. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Star Sculler Gevvie Stone ’07

Gevvie Stone ’07 (Courtesy TeamUSA.org)

Gevvie Stone ’07 (Courtesy TeamUSA.org)

When PAW’s pages last featured Gevvie Stone ’07, the elite rower was on the verge of competing for the United States in the London Olympics — and also midway through medical school at Tufts University.

Three years later, Stone is continuing to balance a career in medicine with her athletic goals. She completed her M.D. last year, and she remains the top American woman in the single scull. Earlier this month in West Windsor, N.J., a few miles from Princeton, she won her event in the National Selection Regatta, a key step on her quest to return to the World Championships. (Stone finished ninth at Worlds in Amsterdam last year.)

In the National Selection Regatta finals, Stone was pushed early by former U.S. champion Emily Huelskamp, but she took control and won by more than seven seconds. “It was fun,” Stone told U.S. Rowing. “Emily put together a good fight, and I really had to execute my best piece. And I did.”

If Stone can follow up her selection-regatta win with a top-7 finish in one of the remaining World Cup races, she’ll earn a place on the 2015 U.S. National Team that will compete at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France, Aug. 30-Sept. 6. She’s also among the top contenders for the next Olympic team, which will row in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. Continue reading

Q&A: Mibs Southerland Mara, the Guru of Reunions

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

As associate director for Reunions, Mibs Southerland Mara is an authority on the University’s signature event. Coordinating University staff and alumni volunteers, she often begins working with major-reunion classes two years before their celebrations. Mara grew up within walking distance of campus and worked in secondary-school administration before joining the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005 — making this her 10th Reunions.

You are k’26. Did you go to Reunions as a child?

My grandfather was Class of 1926, and growing up in Princeton, I always looked forward to Reunions, especially the P-rade. One of my favorite photos (below) is from 1966, when my grandfather carried me in the P-rade. Seeing the Clydesdale horses clomp down Prospect Street was always a highlight.

How has Reunions changed in the past 10 years?

I started working in the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005, and Reunions have definitely changed since. There has been significant growth in attendance and events for Reunions weekend. We are always trying to enhance the Reunions experience — from adding water stations and portable restrooms along the P-rade route to adding food trucks on campus last year. We rolled out Reunions Mobile in 2009, and last year we introduced Reunions Rover — a student-driven golf-cart service for people with mobility issues. And there is the Battle of the Bands Friday afternoon. Continue reading

Einstein and the Nazi Scientist Who Hated Him

Bruce Hillman ’69

Bruce Hillman ’69

Germany in the first half of the 20th century often is associated with the Nazi movement that ultimately ravaged the country. In the world of physics, however, it had become a battleground for opposing schools of thought: One side embraced experimental physics, which was based on the work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton and driven by the scientific method; the other believed in theoretical physics, which revolved around theories that sometimes were untested experimentally and was grounded in the work of Albert Einstein.

For Philipp Lenard, the recipient of the 1905 Nobel Prize for physics and an adviser to Adolf Hitler, the conflict between experimental and theoretical physics was personified in his hatred for Einstein. In The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History, Bruce Hillman ’69 and co-authors Birgit Ertl-Wagner and Bernd C. Wagner recount the events that led to Einstein’s rise, his rivalry with Lenard, and his eventual self-exile from his homeland, bringing to life the “smoldering, personal cold war” between the two men. The book’s publication coincides with the 60th anniversary of Einstein’s death. Continue reading

Names in the News: Advice for Grads from Schmidt ’76, Obama ’85, Kopp ’89, and More

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator LISA JACKSON *86, now the vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple Inc., will deliver Princeton’s Baccalaureate address at the University Chapel May 31. But Jackson is not the only alum speaking to graduates this spring. Below, read commencement advice for the Class of 2015 from six other Princetonians.

Eric Schmidt ’76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Eric Schmidt ’76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Live Offline

At Virginia Tech, Google chairman ERIC SCHMIDT ’76, drew on inspiration from Metallica lead singer James Hetfield, who has said, “I choose to live, not just exist.” Schmidt expanded on that idea: “Choosing to live means life is not lived in the glow of a monitor. Life is not a series of status updates. Life is not about your friend count — it’s about the friends you can count on.”

Be True to Yourself

In more than six years as first lady, MICHELLE OBAMA ’85 told Tuskegee University graduates, she has endured a range of criticism and name-calling — some of it particularly cruel — but she came to realize it was “just noise.” “It did not define me,” she said. “It didn’t change who I was. And most importantly, it couldn’t hold me back.  … So, graduates, that’s what I want for all of you.  I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves.” Continue reading