Wythes ’55, influential trustee and venture capitalist, dies

i-12f774c9425f1fa9c68dd642797265e2-Paul-Wythes.jpg
Paul M. Wythes ’55 (Photo: Orange Photography, courtesy of Sutter Hill Ventures)
Paul M. Wythes ’55, a longtime Princeton trustee who headed a special committee that spearheaded an expansion of the undergraduate student body, died Oct. 30 after battling cancer for several years. He was 79.
 
A New Jersey native, Wythes studied mechanical engineering as an undergraduate, earned an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School, and founded the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sutter Hill Ventures, one of Silicon Valley’s first venture capital firms, in 1962. Sutter Hill invested in several successful start-ups, including Tellabs, Xidex, Linear Technology, Qume, and AmeriGroup. 
 
Wythes, a Princeton trustee for 14 years, is best remembered as the chairman of the Wythes Committee, which convened from 1997 to 2000. The special committee aimed to determine “the optimal allocation of Princeton’s human, physical, financial, and other resources to support the University’s long-term objectives,” with a particular focus on the first decade of the 21st century. Major changes recommended by the group — and approved by the trustees — included a 500-student expansion of the undergraduate population and the addition of a sixth residential college (later funded by and named for fellow Californian Meg Whitman ’77).
 
Wythes is survived by his wife, Marcia; two daughters, Jennifer Vettel ’86 and Linda; a son, Paul Jr.; and eight grandchildren.