Author Archives: Brett Tomlinson

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)

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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

#ThrowbackThursday: Princeton Reunions, 1915

(PAW Archives)

(PAW Archives)

The June 16, 1915, issue of PAW featured this photo of Saturday evening at Reunions — the first of its kind in the magazine. Then, as now, alumni were eager to come back to Old Nassau. William H. Vail 1865 walked a symbolic 50 miles from his home in Newark to celebrate his 50th reunion. (“His story is attested by numerous automobilists who offered him a lift at different points along the journey,” one reader wrote in a letter to the editor.)

In the P-rade, the younger classes wore creative costumes — the Class of 1912 in artists’ smocks and berets, the Class of 1910 in Greek garb — while the older classes donned blazers and straw boaters. And the seniors were on hand to witness it all. Dean Christian Gauss relayed the story of one graduate in an essay for PAW. “It makes me feel pretty blue to think that very soon this class, with which I have spent the best four years of my life, will break up and never meet again with all present,” the senior told Gauss. “It sort of breaks you up — you can’t help it. I hate to think of leaving them, but I am anxious to get started.”

Tiger of the Week: Four-Star General Mark Milley ’80

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 has been described as “an Ivy League graduate and career grunt” (Army Times), “a soldier’s soldier” (defense adviser Maren Leed), and “a warrior and a statesman” (Defense Secretary Ashton Carter). He’s also Princeton’s first four-star general and, pending Senate approval, will soon head the Army as its next chief of staff. Carter introduced Milley as President Barack Obama’s choice for the post at a press conference in Washington May 13.

Milley, a politics major, ROTC cadet, and varsity hockey player at Princeton, was commissioned after graduation. In the last decade, he served on the secretary of defense’s staff at the Pentagon and oversaw NATO operations in Afghanistan. He currently directs the U.S. Army Forces Command, known as Forscom, the Army’s largest command. Based in Fort Bragg, N.C., Forscom includes more than 750,000 active-duty, reserve, and National Guard soldiers.

In a 2014 interview with PAW contributor E.B. Boyd ’89, Milley spoke about the pressures of being responsible for the lives of soldiers, specifically the 100,000 NATO troops who were under his command in Afghanistan:

“It’s incredibly high stress. You’re looking at four hours of sleep, maybe five on a good night. Usually it’s interrupted. I had 122 [U.S. and NATO soldiers] killed in action while I was over there, and several hundred more seriously wounded. That weighs on you heavily — every day, day in and day out — and it’s never far from your mind. But through training, through experience, through a strong sense of purpose and a strong sense of the moral rightness of your cause, you learn to deal with the stress.”  Continue reading

Without the Wa: Muller ’05 Sings a Nostalgic Tribute

Where’s the Wa?

Reunions visitors may be asking that question next week as they wander west in search of sandwiches and snacks from the familiar Wawa convenience store on University Place. The store relocated in November to a new home at the new Dinky station.

One alumna — Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Nikki Muller ’05 — even composed a song about the demise of the old Wa, released earlier this month:

Muller, whose song was inspired by a story in the Dec. 3 PAW, says that Wawa was her “go-to place” during stressful, sleep-deprived stretches or after a night out on the Street. She will be back for her 10th reunion next week and plans to check out the new Wa.

After Reunions, Muller and collaborators from her musical improv team are slated to debut a new musical, Timeheart, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For information about show times and tickets, visit hollywoodfringe.org.

Names in the News: Milley ’80 Tabbed for Army’s Top Post, Felten Returning to D.C., and More

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Four-star Gen. MARK MILLEY ’80 is President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the next Army chief of staff. Milley, a Princeton ROTC graduate and 35-year veteran, told PAW last year that while he wanted to serve his country, he hadn’t intended to make a career in the military. “But then I really liked it,” he said. “I got this sense of commitment and of being involved in something that had a sense of purpose.”

The Obama administration called on another Princetonian earlier in the week when it named professor of computer science and public affairs EDWARD FELTEN as deputy U.S. chief technology officer, a post in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. He will take a leave of absence from the University, as he did in 2011-12 to serve as the chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission. The Washington Post called Felten “one of the tech world’s most valuable players.”

LORI DICKERSON FOUCHÉ ’91, chief executive of Prudential Insurance Group, sets a high bar for managers in her company. “I expect my leaders to listen,” she told The New York Times in an interview for the Corner Office column. “I expect them to ask questions. I expect them to understand what’s going on. I am somewhat infamous for saying, ‘So how’s it going?’ And they’ll say, ‘Great.’ Then I’ll say, ‘How do you know?’” Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: Rowing’s Sprint to the Finish

(Cliff Moore/PAW Archives)

(Cliff Moore/PAW Archives)

In the spring of 1975, Princeton women’s rowing finished strong, placing second in the varsity eight at Eastern Sprints and fifth at the National Women’s Rowing Championships, above, held on Lake Carnegie. PAW’s season wrap-up also noted that four Princeton women were competing for spots on the U.S. national team, in advance of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, where women’s rowing would be part of the program for the first time. Carol Brown ’75 and coxswain Mimi Kellogg ’76 made the team for Montreal, and Brown won bronze in the women’s eight, becoming the first Princeton alumna to earn an Olympic medal. Continue reading