Category Archives: Alumni News

Princeton, 1996: Campus Headlines From the Year the Class of 2018 Was Born

This week, Beloit College’s annual Mindset List noted several interesting tidbits about members of the incoming Class of 2018: Since most were born in 1996, their lives never overlapped with those of Tupac Shakur or Carl Sagan; the terrorist attacks of 2001 happened when they were in kindergarten; and they’ve never known a world without The Daily Show.

clintonBut what was happening at Princeton when the Class of ’18 was still in diapers? Quite a lot: 1996 is the year when the Tigers upset UCLA in men’s basketball and said farewell to Pete Carril; President Bill Clinton delivered the Commencement address as Princeton celebrated its bicenquinquagenary (250th anniversary); and alumnus Richard Smalley *74 shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of a novel type of carbon molecules.

The Pyne Prize that year went to Derek Kilmer ’96, now a U.S. Congressman from the state of Washington, and Daniel Walter ’96, who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Princeton’s physics department. Kilmer’s Congressional colleague Jared Polis ’96 also was on campus. PAW wrote a column about his ambitious course load, which included 25 classes in his first two years (just over six per semester). Continue reading

Solomon ’14 Revisits Thesis About Comedy and Mental Illness in the Wake of Williams’ Death

Amy Solomon ’14 (Courtesy Amy Solomon)

Amy Solomon ’14 (Courtesy Amy Solomon)

Earlier this year, Amy Solomon ’14 wrote a senior thesis that explored the “sad-clown” stereotype that permeates the world of comedy — the idea that humor and mental illness often are two sides of the same coin. Her research, which included interviews with more than 30 working comedians, landed her a spot on the Aug. 8 episode of The Gist, a Slate podcast hosted by Mike Pesca. A few days later, reporters were calling Solomon for her thoughts about the death of one of her comedy idols, Robin Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11.

The experience was both “really weird” and somewhat uncomfortable for Solomon. “It’s a difficult topic to talk about in definitive terms, because everyone wants to know — in a sound byte — ‘Is the connection between mental illness and comedic genius true?’ ” she told PAW. “I think there’s a lot of nuance, and in my thesis, I got to explore that.”

For example, when she asked comedians if they thought the link between depression and humor was real, they gave a resounding “yes.” But many doubted that the rate of depression or mental illness was greater among comics than it would be for, say, plumbers. Comedians, they told her, “are just the people who are allowed to talk about it and who have that platform.” Continue reading

Merwin ’48, Bradley ’80 Featured in New Films

Bob Bradley ’80 (Courtesy PBS)

Bob Bradley ’80 (Courtesy PBS)

Two Princeton alumni will be featured in documentary films released this month: W.S. Merwin ’48, a former poet laureate of the United States and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is profiled in Even Though the Whole World Is Burning, which premieres June 8 at the Maui Film Festival; and Bob Bradley ’80, a former coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team, is the central figure of American Pharaoh, a film about Egypt’s national team that will air on PBS stations beginning June 16. Continue reading

Introducing PAW’s 2014 Reunions Guide

Click on the cover to download a PDF of the 2014 Reunions Guide. (Illustration by Michael Witte ’66)

Click on the cover to download a PDF of the 2014 Reunions Guide. (Illustration by Michael Witte ’66)

PAW’s 2014 Reunions Guide will be available at all class registration sites and selected locations on campus. It features plans for the major-reunion classes, news about art exhibitions, interviews with Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp ’89 and rising opera star Anthony Roth Costanzo ’04, and more.

To download a PDF of the guide, click on the cover photo.

Girl Scouts Explore Science at PPPL Event

Atiba Brereton, a diagnostic engineer at PPPL, looks on as Mackenzie Keane, left, a fourth grader from East Brunswick, N.J., and Shreya Joshi, a fifth grader from West Windsor, N.J., try their hands at a cryogenics experiment at PPPL. (Courtesy Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

Atiba Brereton, a diagnostic engineer at PPPL, looks on as Mackenzie Keane, left, a fourth grader from East Brunswick, N.J., and Shreya Joshi, a fifth grader from West Windsor, N.J., try their hands at a cryogenics experiment at PPPL. (Courtesy Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

Princeton alumni, graduate students, and staff helped to encourage local girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math at the first Girl Scout STEM Fair, held at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) May 17.

Cheryl Rowe-Rendleman ’81, who has been working with Girl Scouts USA on the organization’s science platform for the last nine years, and Theresa Gillars, a Girl Scout leader and senior staff accountant at PPPL, began outlining plans for the event late last year. There was room for about 300 Girl Scouts from central and southern New Jersey, and the spots filled in two weeks, well in advance of the fair — a sign that girls have a strong and underserved interest in the sciences, Rowe-Rendleman said. Continue reading

Memorial for Richard Ullman Scheduled for June 8

Richard Ullman (Larry French/Office of Communications)

Richard Ullman (Larry French/Office of Communications)

A memorial for Richard Ullman, a leading scholar and teacher of international affairs who died in March, will be held in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall on June 8 at 2 p.m., with a reception afterward at Prospect House.

Ullman was known as one of Princeton’s most devoted teachers during his 36 years on the faculty at the Woodrow Wilson School. “He is a great teacher because he cares not only about his own thoughts but also about those of his colleagues and students,” colleagues wrote in 2001, the year he retired. “This, in part, is why we take him so seriously: because he takes others seriously ….” He published articles and books on such topics as Soviet-Western relations, nuclear policy, the Middle East, and U.S. security strategy.