Year in review

2007: The Year at Princeton

A month-by-month look at the headlines, with links to PAW stories

January
Gen. David Petraeus *87 is confirmed as the top commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Three months later, Time magazine selects the Woodrow Wilson School Ph.D. recipient for its list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Sen. John McCain writes the brief essay on Petraeus, calling him “bright, studious, morally committed, physically brave, [and] willing to carry a ‘heavy rucksack’ without complaint and with clear-eyed resolve.” Petraeus has appeared in PAW several times – in a 2002 interview, a 2004 feature story, and most recently, in an On the Campus column about student reporter Wesley Morgan ’10, who was embedded with Petraeus and others in Iraq last summer.

February
In women’s squash, undefeated Princeton competes at the Howe Cup, the sport’s national championship, and tops Brown, Yale, and Harvard en route to a perfect season and its first national title since 1999. “It’s quite an honor to be able to put together a group of women to win the national title,” coach Gail Ramsay tells PAW. “[Squash] is very competitive. Small, but very competitive.”

March
Princeton chemistry professor David MacMillan and his colleagues publish a paper in Science March 29 outlining a new way assemble organic molecules without using toxic catalysts. The approach, which could speed the development of new drugs, is a “creative breakthrough,” according to John Schwab, a program director at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which helped fund the research.

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Moshin Hamid ’93 releases his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, drawing favorable reviews in the United States and abroad (The New York Times and Amazon.com both selected it as one of the year’s 100 best books). PAW profiled the author and published an excerpt of the book, which features the protagonist Changez, a native of Pakistan who attends Princeton, works in Manhattan, and develops a complicated view of the United States after Sept. 11. “Changez is not meant to be me,” Hamid tells PAW, “but I could imagine being him.”

May
Reunions 2007 draws about 20,000 alumni, family members, and friends to campus, starting on May 31, for receptions, family events, educational programs, and the annual P-rade. On June 5, 1,127 undergraduates and 716 graduate students receive their degrees and join the alumni community.

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The University announces that Bill Frist ’74, the former Senate majority leader, will join the Woodrow Wilson School faculty in 2007-08 as the Frederick H. Schultz Class of 1951 Visiting Professor of International Economic Policy. A December PAW feature followed Frist and Professor Uwe Reinhardt into the classroom for their course, “The Political Economy of Health Systems.”

July

San Diego Padres right-hander Chris Young ’02 pitches in Major League Baseball’s All-Star game July 10, retiring one batter in the top of the fifth inning before giving up a two-run in-the-park home run to Ichiro Suzuki. Young is one of nearly a dozen alumni in professional baseball, including fellow pitcher Ross Ohlendorf ’05, who made his major-league debut in September with the New York Yankees.

August
On Aug. 2, Middle East studies scholar Haleh Esfandiari, who taught Persian language and literature at Princeton from 1980 to 1994, is released from a prison in Iran where she had been held on charges of espionage and endangering Iran’s national security. Esfandiari strongly denied the charges. She returned to work as director of the Middle East program for the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington Sept. 10.

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Whitman College, the University’s newest residential college, opens its doors to students. The complex, named for lead donor and eBay CEO Meg Whitman ’77, was built at a cost of $136 million and houses about 500 students. Architect Demetri Porphyrios *80 aimed for a fresh take on collegiate gothic architecture. “The current architectural taste is neo-modern, deconstructive,” he tells PAW. “It’s centered on aggression, where these buildings are centered on beauty.”

October
The University Art Museum and the Italian government resolve ownership of 15 works of art from the museum’s collection at a meeting in Rome Oct. 30, ending nearly three years of inquiries and negotiations. The Italian culture ministry suspected that some of the museum’s artifacts had been acquired illegally. The University returned four works, transferred ownership on four others (but kept them on temporary loan), and secured permanent title to the seven remaining works under review. Museum director Susan Taylor maintained that all of the objects were obtained in good faith.

November

The University formally launches the largest fundraising campaign in its history — $1.75 billion over the next five years — with three days of events for alumni leaders, volunteers, and donors. Priorities in the campaign include Annual Giving; engineering, energy, and the environment; exploration in the arts; neuroscience, genomics, and theoretical physics; national and global citizenship; and the “Princeton experience.” Campaign co-chairman Robert Murley ’72 tells PAW that while Princeton’s goal may not be as lofty as the multi-billion-dollar campaigns at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, “on a per-capita or per-student basis it is a very large campaign. It certainly is large and important for Princeton.”

December
The Dec. 13 announcement of Sachs Scholar Pauline Yeung ’08 concludes a remarkable season of awards for Princeton seniors. Three members of the Class of 2008 were named Rhodes Scholars in late November – Sherif Girgis, Brett Masters, and Landis Stankievech – marking the first time since 1995 that three Princeton undergraduates were selected. Sarah Vander Ploeg ’08 was chosen to be a Marshall Scholar, while Yeung was selected for the Sachs Scholarship, a Princeton honor named for Daniel Sachs ’60. All five students will pursue graduate studies in Great Britain next fall.

A note to our readers
The Weekly Blog will not post on Dec. 26 but will return in the new year with more news and notes.

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