Category Archives: Campus News

Taylor Gift Funds New Fellowships for Chemistry Grad Students

Graduate students offer their thanks to emeritus professor Ted Taylor. (Courtesy Department of Chemistry)

Graduate students offer their thanks to emeritus professor Ted Taylor. (Courtesy Department of Chemistry)

Starting this fall, third-year chemistry graduate students will receive full fellowships through a gift from Edward C. Taylor, chemistry professor emeritus and inventor of the anti-cancer drug Alimta, which is used to treat lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The third year is a critical time in graduate school because it is often when students begin working primarily on their research projects, said chemistry department chair Tom Muir. “The Taylor funding will allow all students to focus on their research without worrying about where their funding comes from, or whether they might have to do additional teaching to pay for their stipend,” Muir said.

Muir declined to comment on the amount of the Taylor gift, but said the donation will have a “massive” impact on the department. “It will greatly strengthen our ability to attract the very best chemistry students to Princeton, which in turn will allow us to attract and retain the best faculty,” he said. Continue reading

Violinist Perlman’s Advice to Seniors: Do What You Love

Itzhak Perlman at the White House in 2007. (Shealah Craighead via Wikipedia)

Itzhak Perlman at the White House in 2007. (Shealah Craighead via Wikipedia)

Violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby had a simple message for the Class of 2016 in a Last Lecture event on Feb. 9: Do what you love.

“Part of the secret of life is loving your work and positioning yourself so that your work nourishes you,” said Toby Perlman, who also pursues a musical career as founder of the Perlman Music Program for gifted young string players.

Creative nourishment comes from continually seeking out challenges in one’s work, the Perlmans said. School provides a natural environment for growth, but it’s harder to find opportunities for inspiration after graduation.

“Never miss an opportunity to teach,” Itzhak Perlman said, explaining that teaching has challenged his own playing to take on new levels of meaning. “When you teach others, you teach yourself.”

And his thoughts on the Perlmans’ own futures? “I don’t like to plan stuff. It’s nice to be surprised,” Itzhak Perlman said. “A lot of the great things that happen to us in our lives just come without a plan.”

Hirshfeld ’73 To Open Hatcher Lecture Series at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Alan Hirshfeld '73 (Sasha Helper)

Alan Hirshfeld ’73 (Sasha Helper)

Astronomer Alan Hirshfeld ’73, author of the book Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe, will deliver the opening talk in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday Lecture Series Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m.

Hirshfeld, a professor at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, leads off a string of lecturers with Princeton connections in this year’s series, which also includes former University president Shirley Tilghman (Jan. 16); Frank von Hippel, co-founder of the University’s Program on Science and Global Security (Jan. 30); chemical and biological engineering professor Lynn Loo (Feb. 6); mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Edgar Choueiri *91 (Feb. 13); molecular biology professor Coleen Murphy (Feb. 27); and astrophysics professor David Spergel ’80 (March 12). View the complete schedule here. Continue reading

France Should Promote Personal Freedoms, Charlie Hebdo Survivor Lançon Tells Princeton Audiences

A month before he was slated to begin teaching a course as a visiting professor at Princeton earlier this year, French journalist Philippe Lançon was seriously injured during a terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris.

The satirical magazine had previously published cartoons on the prophet Mohammed, inciting Muslim extremists to murder 12 of Lançon’s colleagues while he lay on the floor, fully conscious.

Lançon, speaking at a packed public discussion with Latin American studies professor and Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa last month, said that the right to freedom of speech is a pillar of democratic society that is essential in the battle against terrorism.

The talk, delivered less than a week after the Nov. 13 attacks at a Paris café, theater, and stadium that left 130 people dead. Those attacks also revolved around freedom, Lançon said, as the Islamic State militant group aimed to prevent French citizens from enjoying rights to leisure and entertainment. Continue reading

At ‘Black Activism and Consciousness’ Teach-In, Students and Alumni Discuss Campus Issues

At a Dec. 12 teach-in on “Black Activism and Consciousness at Princeton,” students and faculty described the challenges of defining a black identity and discussing racial issues on campus. The event, sponsored by the Black Justice League (BJL), which organized the Nassau Hall sit-in, drew about 100 students and alumni.

BJL member Destiny Crockett ’17 said it was not easy to balance acknowledging and respecting a wide range of views — in both the black community and the wider University community — while remaining firm to achieve action on the group’s demands.

“My issue has been figuring out what is disagreeing and what is discounting someone’s humanity,” Crockett said.

“Solidarities are made; they can’t be presupposed,” Professor Eddie Glaude *97 added. “We know we don’t represent the entire black community.”

Professor Tera Hunter and Olamide Akin-Olugbade ’16 explained that when others focus on criticizing the methods of protest, they derail conversations about the important underlying issues. Continue reading

PAW Goes to the Movies: ‘Victor Frankenstein,’ with Professor Susan Wolfson

Professor Susan Wolfson, right, notes that in the book, Victor Frankenstein is a student, not a doctor, and his creature is “a thesis project gone horribly wrong.” (Beverly Schaefer)

Professor Susan Wolfson, right, notes that in the book, Victor Frankenstein is a student, not a doctor, and his creature is “a thesis project gone horribly wrong.” (Beverly Schaefer)

Frankenstein the novel and Frankenstein the monster are distant cousins, at best. The creature in Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic has no name, no green skin, and no bolts in his neck. The title character, of course, is Victor Frankenstein, the man who created him. But tell that to the people who make Halloween costumes.

Director Paul McGuigan takes another crack at the misconstrued legend in the new film Victor Frankenstein, starring James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class) as Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) as Igor — another character who doesn’t appear in the novel. Who better to review it, though, than English professor Susan Wolfson? She is the co-editor, with her husband, Rutgers professor Ronald Levao, of The Annotated Frankenstein (Harvard, 2012) and also teaches Shelley in her course, “The Younger Romantics.”

Did filmmakers finally get it right or was Victor Frankenstein another monstrosity? In the latest installment of PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 took Wolfson to see the film, prepared to throw tomatoes but hoping for the best.

moviesMFB: You went in thinking this was going to be terrible but came out feeling a little better about it. What changed your opinion?

SW: If your expectations are zero, there’s a good chance you could be surprised. Despite the heavy-handedness of the writing, I found myself appreciating parts of the film. The visual imagination was superb and I liked the reverse mythology of Victor Frankenstein turning Igor, an abused creature, into a human being. Victor and Igor become alter egos, in a way.

There were a lot of plays on humans and monsters. Igor is physically monstrous but beautiful inside. The people who abuse him are monsters. Finnegan, the invented character who funds Frankenstein’s work, is blonde and handsome but he’s a moral monster. And Victor, of course, becomes a monster. The creature himself was actually the least interesting monster in the film.

MFB: Was anything faithful to the novel?

SW: It did not have one line from the novel. There were a few lines from the 1931 James Whale film (with Boris Karloff as the creature), but that’s it. Still, I’m willing to grant it its own genre. It’s fascinating that this fable is now almost 200 years old and people still find it worth restaging. It’s sort of like Tom Stoppard reimaging Hamlet to put Rosencrantz and Guildenstern front and center and make it theater of the absurd. Continue reading

Students, Alumni Push for More Discussion on Issues of Race and Ethnicity

Students left Nassau Hall after reaching an agreement with administrators on the evening of Nov. 19. (Mary Hui ’17)

Student demonstrators left Nassau Hall after reaching an agreement with administrators on the evening of Nov. 19. (Mary Hui ’17)

In the wake of the two-day sit-in at Nassau Hall last week by members of the Black Justice League, students, faculty, and alumni have publicly taken positions both for and against the group’s demands related to Princeton’s racial climate. At the same time, a group of Latino students has released a petition and report calling for greater support for and representation of the Latino community on campus.

Nearly 100 faculty members have signed a letter drafted by African American studies department faculty in support of the Black Justice League, urging campus-wide reflection on the issues brought to light. A student petition to counter the group’s demands has more than 1,300 signatures since Josh Zuckerman ’16 and Evan Draim ’16 launched it Thursday, while a similar alumni petition started by Darren Geist ’05 has 44 signatures.

A newly formed student group, Princeton Open Campus Coalition, also wrote an open letter Sunday to President Eisgruber ’83 opposing the Black Justice League’s tactics and requesting a more open campus discussion. “We are concerned mainly with the importance of preserving an intellectual culture in which all members of the Princeton community feel free to engage in civil discussion and to express their convictions without fear of being subjected to intimidation or abuse,” the letter reads.

Another petition has gained 540 signatures supporting the report “Latinx Students Calling for a Better Princeton,” which asks for greater campus representation academically and culturally (the group uses the non-gendered term Latinx to be “inclusive and supportive of all members of our community”).  The report notes that only 2 percent of full professors are Hispanic and finds a lack of cultural space and institutional support for Latino students. It requests that the University support and improve the experience of undocumented Princeton students.

In an email sent Sunday to students, alumni, and other members of the Princeton community over the weekend, Eisgruber acknowledged the concerns of underrepresented students, citing actions taken by both the Black Justice League and the Latinx community. He described upcoming initiatives to address these concerns, including the formation of a subcommittee of the trustees to re-examine Woodrow Wilson 1879’s legacy and his place on Princeton’s campus. Eisgruber stressed that the issues would be considered “through appropriate University processes – processes that allow for full and fair input from the entire University community.”

“Our students deserve better, and Princeton must do better,” he wrote.  “We must commit ourselves to make this University a place where students from all backgrounds feel respected and valued,” adding that hard work and good will are necessary to achieve further progress toward a diverse and inclusive community.

Here’s what others have been writing about Woodrow Wilson 1879 and the controversy surrounding his legacy:

UPDATE Additional coverage related to Wilson’s legacy:

Editorial, The New York Times: The Case Against Woodrow Wilson at Princeton, Nov. 25

PAW Goes to the Movies: Princeton Grad Students Review ‘The Ph.D. Movie 2’

From left, Daniel Vitek, Congling Qiu, Alta Fang, and Florian Sprung spoke with PAW’s Mark F. Bernstein ’83 about their impressions of Ph.D. Movie 2. (Frank Wojciechowski)

From left, Daniel Vitek, Congling Qiu, Alta Fang, and Florian Sprung spoke with PAW’s Mark F. Bernstein ’83 about their impressions of The Ph.D. Movie 2. (Frank Wojciechowski)

Unless you are or recently were a graduate student, you may not be familiar with “Piled Higher and Deeper,” Jorge Cham’s comic strip about the ups, downs, and absurdities of grad school life that commonly goes by the much more grad student friendly name, Ph.D. Comics. Think of it as “Dilbert” for the dissertation set. Cham’s strip, which originated when he was a graduate student at Stanford, has been running in student papers and on the Internet since 1997. In 2011, it spawned the first film version, The Ph.D. Movie, which the Chronicle of Higher Education called “hilarious.” This fall a sequel, The Ph.D. Movie 2, funded in large part by a Kickstarter campaign, has been shown at Princeton and other campuses around the world. As in the original, several of the actors in the film are actual Ph.D. students.

In another installment of our periodic feature PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 attended The Ph.D. Movie 2 at Frist Theater, and then asked four current graduate students — Alta Fang (fourth year, mechanical engineering), Daniel Vitek (second year, mathematics), Congling Qiu (first year, mathematics), and Florian Sprung, a mathematics postdoc — whether the film held a mirror up to their real lives.

MFB:  I heard a lot of laughter during the movie, but I couldn’t tell if it was nervous or sincere. Did it hit home?

AF: I think there were many things that were quite realistic, for example when they had trouble scheduling meetings because the professors were so busy, and the students just having a lot of work.

FS: All the bad jokes in the film are like the ones you hear in graduate school — you know, “Are you writing something novel or writing a novel?” That sort of thing.

CQ: It was very similar to Chinese universities. I understood all the jokes, too.

MFB: Florian, you’re the only one here who has actually written a dissertation. Did the film bring back stressful memories? Continue reading

Administration Reaches Agreement With Student Demonstrators

Students celebrate the end of the 33-hour Nassau Hall sit-in. (Mary Hui ’17)

Students celebrate the end of the 33-hour Nassau Hall sit-in. (Mary Hui ’17)

The #OccupyNassau campaign ended Thursday night, 33 hours after it began, with student protest leaders exiting President Eisgruber ’83’s office suite with a signed document that addressed their demands and contained a guarantee of amnesty from disciplinary action.

According to the agreement, Eisgruber will ask the University’s Board of Trustees to initiate discussions, collect information, and make a decision on the Black Justice League’s request to remove Woodrow Wilson 1879’s name from campus buildings — and more broadly, to examine the present legacy of Wilson, a former president of Princeton, on the campus. Eisgruber will also ask Professor Eduardo Cadava, head of Wilson College, to begin the process of considering the removal of a mural of Wilson from the Wilcox dining hall — an action Eisgruber said he supported.

Members of the Black Justice League will also begin discussing with residential college administrators “the viability of the formation of affinity housing for those interested in black culture.”

The protesters’ demand for mandatory “cultural competency” training for faculty was not met. Members of the student group will discuss the possibility of a diversity course-distribution requirement at an upcoming meeting with the General Education Task Force, a group formed as part of Princeton’s ongoing strategic planning. And four rooms will be set aside immediately in the Carl Fields Center for “cultural affinity groups” on campus.

The marathon meeting between the students and Eisgruber, Dean of the College Jill Dolan, and Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun, stretched from 3:20 p.m. Thursday until after 8:30 p.m. When talks reached a temporary stalemate over phrasing about 7 p.m., the 150 or so students in the Nassau Hall atrium began to sing and chant. The protest leaders finally exited the office suites about 8:45 p.m. and announcing the agreement, they were greeted with jubilant claps and cheers.

“We appreciate the willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward for them, for us, and for our community,” Eisgruber said in a statement. “We were able to assure them that their concerns would be raised and considered through appropriate processes.”

Text of the full agreement is included below.

This meeting was attended by the Black Justice League (BJL) and President Eisgruber, Vice President (VP) Calhoun and Dean Dolan. By signing below, I agree to have verbalized the following during the Thursday afternoon meeting with the BJL:

On the first demand concerning the legacy of Woodrow Wilson on this campus:

  • Write to Professor Cadava tonight to initiate the process to consider removal of Wilson’s mural, which will express President Eisgruber’s personal view that the mural should be removed from the Wilcox Dining Hall. Dean Gonzalez will be CC’d on this email exchange. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Write an email to Katie Hall, the chair of the Board of Trustees, to initiate conversations concerning the present legacy of Woodrow Wilson on this campus, including Black Justice League’s request to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • The Board of Trustees will collect information on the campus community’s opinion on Woodrow Wilson School name and then make a decision regarding the name. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Commitment to working toward greater ethnic diversity of memorialized artwork on campus. This commitment was verbalized by President Eisgruber.

On the second demand concerning the creation of Affinity Housing:

  • Immediately designate four rooms in the Carl A. Fields Center that will be used by Cultural Affinity Groups. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • BJL members will be involved in a working group with the staff of the Residential Colleges to begin discussions on the viability of the formation of Affinity Housing for those interested in black culture. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

On the third demand concerning the implementation of Cultural Competency Training and a Diversity Requirement:

  • Work in conjunction with Executive Director John Kolligian to enhance cultural competency training for CPS staff. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • Email Dean Prentice to arrange an introduction with BJL concerning the possibility of cultural competency training. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Arrange a presentation by BJL to the FACP. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Dean Gonzalez will work with the BJL to invite two members to attend the meeting on December 8th to discuss with the General Education Task Force the possibility of a diversity requirement. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

On the final demand concerning amnesty from disciplinary action for those who remained in President Eisgruber’s office overnight on November 18th, 2015.

  • No formal disciplinary action has been nor will be initiated if students peacefully leave President Eisgruber’s office tonight. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • In the future, information in regards to processes concerning disciplinary action, protests and Rights, Rules and Responsibilities will be clearly given from administration to students in writing. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.

On accountability:

  • Inclusion At Princeton website is updated by the Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion. Dean Gonzalez is the point person for checking in on the progress concerning the aforementioned issues. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

Students, Administrators Discuss Demands in Second Day of Nassau Hall Sit-In

Check PAW’s Facebook page each morning and evening for updates on the sit-in in Nassau Hall. Our updates are provided by Princeton University Press Club members Mary Hui ’17 and Gabriel Fisher ’17.

Students inside Nassau Hall’s atrium Tuesday morning. (PAW/Allie Wenner)

Students inside Nassau Hall’s atrium Tuesday morning. (PAW/Allie Wenner)


On Wednesday night, some protesters slept inside President Eisgruber’s office while others camped out on the steps of Nassau Hall or in tents nearby. (Mary Hui ’17)

A consistent group of at least 100 students have been stationed inside the Nassau Hall atrium since this morning, with deliveries of bagels, coffee, cereal bars, and pizza fueling them through the day. A town-hall style meeting was held about 10:30 a.m., facilitated by a protest leader. In small groups, students shared their personal experiences in an attempt to articulate what the sit-in means to each of them. Students produced a video detailing their personal motivations for supporting the cause; this video was later shown to President Eisgruber ’83, Dean of the College Jill Dolan, and Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun.

While Eisgruber was seen entering Nassau Hall this morning, he did not appear in his office until the afternoon. Just after 3 p.m., Eisgruber, Dolan, and Calhoun entered the president’s office to meet with the students camped inside. The students restated the three demands they presented the day before. As of 4:30 p.m., Eisgruber had agreed that a mural of Woodrow Wilson in the Wu-Wilcox dining hall should be removed, and Calhoun said it was viable to create a cultural space for black students in the Carl A. Fields Center. They were continuing to discuss the issue of mandatory cultural competency training for faculty and staff. “You’re all talking about love, this is the language you all talk in. I think it’s very hard to put that language into a mandatory context,” Dolan said.

Update: At 8:45 p.m., the University announced that it reached an agreement with the demonstrators. Text of the agreement follows below.


Continue reading

Update: Nassau Hall Sit-In

On Wednesday afternoon, the sit-in spilled into the hallway outside President Eisgruber ’83’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

On Wednesday afternoon, the sit-in spilled into the hallway outside President Eisgruber ’83’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

The student sit-in led by Princeton’s Black Justice League will begin its second day with a town-hall meeting at the Nassau Hall atrium at 9 a.m. Last night, students slept inside President Eisgruber ’83’s office while other supporters camped outside Nassau Hall. The protesters received visitors, including Rev. William Barber II, a national NAACP board member; Professor Eddie Glaude *97, chair of the African American Studies department; and Ruth Simmons, a University trustee, former Princeton provost, and president emerita of Brown University.

READ MORE: The University Press Club’s ongoing coverage of the protest

From The Daily Princetonian, Students “walkout and speakout,” occupy Nassau Hall until demands of Black Justice League are met

From The New York Times, Princeton Students Hold Sit-In on Racial Justice

From WPRB News, audio coverage of the protest’s first 10 hours


Princeton Students Sit In at Nassau Hall, Demanding Improvements to Experience of Black Students

President Eisgruber ’83, right, listens to the demands of the Black Justice League. (PAW/W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71)

President Eisgruber ’83, right, listens to the demands of the Black Justice League. (PAW/W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71)

Students began a sit-in in President Christopher Eisgruber ’83’s office today to support demands that include acknowledging the “racist legacy” of Woodrow Wilson 1879 and renaming the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. The students are also seeking cultural competency training for all staff and faculty, required courses on the history of marginalized peoples, and a cultural space on campus specifically for black students. They vowed to continue the sit-in until Eisgruber signs their list of demands. Eisgruber and Dean of the College Jill Dolan met with the students soon after the sit-in began.

President Eisgruber ’83 and Dean of the College Jill Dolan meet with students inside Eisgruber’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

President Eisgruber ’83 and Dean of the College Jill Dolan meet with students inside Eisgruber’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

(Mary Hui ’17)

(Mary Hui ’17)

READ MORE: Full text of the students’ demands is available on the Princeton Black Justice League Facebook page.

PAW Goes to the Movies: ‘Steve Jobs,’ with Professor Michael Littman

Professor Michael Littman, left, with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83, says that Steve Jobs was a skilled designer, as well as a master of marketing. (Beverly Schaefer)

Professor Michael Littman, left, with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83, says that Steve Jobs “was a visionary salesman, and he had an artist’s eye for design.” (Beverly Schaefer)

When the history of our time is written, will Steve Jobs be remembered as one of the world’s great innovators? The Apple co-founder and CEO, who died in 2011, is the subject of a new movie, aptly titled Steve Jobs, which focuses on the rollout of three of his most significant products: the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. The film, which was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Kate Winslet as Jobs’s longtime marketing assistant, Joanna Hoffman.

In another installment of our periodic series, PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 invited Michael Littman, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, to evaluate Jobs the movie and Jobs the man. Littman teaches a class, “Engineering in the Modern World,” that includes study of Jobs, Bill Gates, and the development of the personal computer. He also teaches a course on automation in which students design the equivalent to the original Apple I computer.

moviesMFB: This was a movie written and directed by non-engineers. Did they get the science right?

ML: I think they got it right. If I were to give it a grade technically, I would give it high marks.

MFB: Was there anything you didn’t like?

ML: The movie presented Jobs as a very skilled marketer, but I don’t think it emphasized his skills as a designer enough. Jobs developed the Graphical User Interface for the Macintosh, and it changed the face of computing. That technology was basically pirated from Xerox. Xerox could have developed it, but they didn’t have the business skill to recognize what they had. So what if Jobs stole it? He was the one who introduced it to society. Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but he was the one who developed it. Continue reading

Summer Points Pay Off at the Charles for Men’s Lightweight Crew

On Oct. 18, the men’s lightweight crew team finished as the top collegiate squad at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston for the third consecutive year. Captain Isaiah Brown ’16 views a large part of the team’s success as attributable to “Summer Points,” a system of training incentives that Brown credits for making the lightweight Tigers “one of the fittest teams out there.”

What exactly does this system entail?

“Different workouts are worth different amounts of points — the goal is to average an hour of cardio per day, but you can run, row, bike, erg, or lift, and these different activities get you points based on the quantity and intensity,” Brown said. “There are multiples for doing a race, working out with a teammate, working out at a different altitude.”

The team keeps track of everything in a Google document viewable by all rowers. The goal for the roughly 100-day long summer break was to average 1,000 points per day; 100,000 points also happened to be a requirement to be in contention for a boat at the Charles. Continue reading

Deaton Wins Economics Nobel, Addresses Colleagues and Reporters at Richardson

Angus Deaton, a professor of economics and international affairs, joined the Princeton faculty in 1983. (Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications)

Angus Deaton, a professor of economics and international affairs, joined the Princeton faculty in 1983. (Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications)

Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and a professor of economics and international affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences on Oct. 12.

Deaton, who has taught at Princeton since 1983, received the award in recognition of his groundbreaking work studying the ways in which the economic behavior of individuals influences broader economic patterns. Unlike many economists, he has relied on surveys of individual households rather than national economic statistics, to gain deeper insights into the factors driving economic development. Continue reading

Faculty Members Assess the Iran Nuclear Deal

On July 14, the United States and five other nations announced an agreement with Iran to limit Iran’s development of nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting international sanctions. The agreement has already generated considerable controversy. Israel and some in the United States have been sharply critical, while President Obama and others have defended it. Congress has until mid-September to review the agreement.

PAW asked several faculty members for their assessments of the agreement. Is this a good deal? A bad deal? A missed opportunity? The best that could be hoped for under the circumstances? We present their conclusions below.

Daniel Kurtzer (Frank Wojciechowski)

Daniel Kurtzer (Frank Wojciechowski)

Daniel Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professor in Middle East Policy Studies and former U.S. ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-2005)

As a nonproliferation agreement, the agreement is quite strong. It blocks several pathways Iran had been employing to potentially reach a nuclear capability. It sets a severe limit on the amount of enriched uranium that can remain in the country. And it limits the number of centrifuges Iran is permitted to keep.

There are three issues that matter most. One, to what extent can inspectors catch Iran should it cheat? That is an open question. Two, what happens if we catch them cheating? This goes to the will of the administration to take action. Will the president of the United States hold Iran to a very high standard, or will he accept some ambiguity in their behavior? Third, will Iran come clean on its previous nuclear program? This is part of a separate agreement Iran has made with the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran doesn’t report things that we know they have been doing, that would be another violation.

Would we have been better off holding on to sanctions and squeezing Iran harder until it capitulated and abandoned its nuclear program altogether? That is unrealistic. Most experts believe that the sanctions were not going to be effective for much longer. Russia and China certainly would have backed away from them if the United States had walked away from negotiations.

Some have asked why we did not include all of Iran’s other bad behavior in the deal. The explanation comes down to tactics. The administration made a choice to isolate the nuclear issue from all the others. We know Iran is doing other bad things in the region, such as backing Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, but the administration believes that we are in a stronger position to address those problems if Iran is not also developing a nuclear capability.

David Menashri, visiting fellow at Princeton; founding director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University

The Iranians made a pragmatic decision to make some concessions on the nuclear issue in order to get relief from the sanctions. The end result is that those who wanted just to delay the Iranian nuclear program can be satisfied.

Still, I would say the Iranians won. Two years ago, the Iranians were desperate. The international sanctions were ruining their economy, and the currency lost much of its value. Unemployment was high and so was inflation. Their regional allies (Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi government) were in trouble. Disillusionment and disenchantment were mounting. So the Iranian government realized that they needed to make some concessions on the nuclear front to achieve their other interests. 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

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

Princetonians from Nepal Lead Fundraising for Victims of Earthquakes

For Bishnu Thapa, a second-year master’s student at the Woodrow Wilson School, following the news from his native Nepal in the last two weeks has often generated “a helpless feeling.” While Thapa’s family is safe, he has close friends whose villages were flattened by the April 25 earthquake. And with another catastrophic earthquake striking eastern Tibet yesterday, the extraordinary need for disaster relief has grown.

A poster for the May 14 “Together for Nepal” concert.

A poster for the May 14 “Together for Nepal” concert

Thapa, fellow Wilson School graduate student Unika Shrestha, and a handful of other Nepalis at the University have tried to turn that initial helplessness into something helpful. They’ve joined with other students and staff members to begin raising funds through the Facebook page Rebuilding Nepal: The Princeton Community Relief Effort and a related Indiegogo project. So far, the group has raised more than $8,600, with most donations ranging from $10 to $50. The contributions will be sent to CARE Nepal and Savodaya (Teach for Nepal).

Rebuilding Nepal has staffed fundraising tables at Lawnparties and the Frist Campus Center and plans to collect donations at Reunions later this month. On Thursday at 8 p.m., 16 campus musical groups will perform at a benefit concert on the Frist South Lawn.

The need for aid is urgent, Thapa said, with shelter in short supply and the monsoon season set to arrive in about a month. In the longer term, the public policy student sees a potential silver lining as Nepal’s younger generation appears to be taking a key role in the rebuilding process, coordinating with NGOs and international relief groups. But for all Nepalis, he said, “There are great challenges that lie ahead.”

Snowden Fields Questions For Princeton Audience, Using Video Link

Edward Snowden, on video screen, spoke at a May 2 event moderated by Barton Gellman ’82. (Tori Sulewski)

Edward Snowden, on video screen, spoke at a May 2 event moderated by Barton Gellman ’82. (Tori Sulewski/Fotobuddy)

By Deborah Yaffe

Mass government surveillance of electronic communications compromises fundamental American values without making the country safer, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told a large and sympathetic Princeton audience on Saturday.

“The government has adopted a world view that, if it is out there, we should know it and we should have access to it,” Snowden said via video link from Moscow, where he gained temporary asylum in 2013. “When we watch everyone all the time, when we collect everything, we understand nothing.”

Snowden arrived in Russia soon after leaking to journalists a trove of classified documents revealing that the American government was secretly collecting vast quantities of data on telephone and Internet use. He faces criminal espionage and theft charges that could send him to prison for decades.

More than 350 people packed the Friend Center auditorium and spilled into two nearby overflow rooms to hear Snowden, a boyish-looking 31-year-old in rimless glasses, as he was interviewed by Woodrow Wilson School lecturer Barton Gellman ’82, one of the journalists who received Snowden’s leaks. Continue reading

Authors of Rolling Stone Report Offer Advice on Journalism and Sexual Misconduct

The authors of a scathing report on Rolling Stone’s retracted November story, “A Rape on Campus,” spoke at Princeton April 27, with words of caution, and inspiration, for student journalists.

Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, and Sheila Coronel, dean of academic affairs there, said that they wrote the report to make the controversy a teachable moment for their students and other journalists, especially those that want to take on matters of sexual misconduct. A capacity audience at Richardson Auditorium was eager to learn.

“The failure was entirely avoidable,” Coll said, countering the claim made by Rolling Stone, shortly after flaws in the story were exposed, that the failure was a result of sensitivity to the feelings of survivors of sexual assault.

Student questioners pressed this point, asking if such thorough repudiation of the story would suppress reporting on sexual misconduct, an issue that Princeton and other universities have made recent efforts to address.

“Journalism has a terrible record, over the last 70 years, on sexual assault,” Coll said, and said that correcting that record is essential for tackling the issue, especially in ambiguous cases, such as those that are unadjudicated, or in which facts are underdeveloped. He said that the report is part of the process. Continue reading

An Enigma of a Tour: Princeton Through the Lens of Student Protests

activism walking tourOn April 10, a guided walking tour led by PUPSA (Princeton University Public Space Authority) left Princeton’s School of Architecture. A poster advertising the tour promised it would “explore public spaces as they existed at Princeton in the 1960s and 1970s and investigate how students and activists tried to manifest, address, improve, and protest urban and other crises both at Princeton and in the broader regional and national communities.”

My tour guide was Nico Krell ’18, a student in Aaron Landsman’s Creating Collaborative Theater class. He began the tour by insisting that the PUPSA, an organization that has apparently been a part of the University since just after the Civil War, is not pronounced “puh-psa” but “poo-psa.” It is “an analogue archive” that relies on other peoples’ memories, Krell said. The tour would focus how common spaces have changed — and have changed activism. Krell, reading from a script I would later learn was written by Landsman, led the group to McCosh Courtyard.

Krell spoke about a powerful moment in 1970 when the student body stayed out of class to protest the war in Vietnam. Pointing to Dickinson Hall, Krell said that this is where the students demanded that the University divest from the war. Krell offered reflections on the changing nature of gathering and, more specifically, activism. Compare this to Black Lives Matter, which brought 500 people out to protest, Krell said. “But maybe if activism is here,” pointing to his phone, “and a hundred thousand people see the video of those 500, maybe that’s OK,” he said. Continue reading

ACLU’s Romero ’87: Working Through ‘Tough’ Civil Liberties Challenges Defines the U.S.

What defines us as a nation is our willingness to struggle through tough circumstances, said Anthony Romero ’87, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, during an Apr. 8 lecture at the Friend Center for Engineering. Romero spoke about some of the greatest challenges to civil liberties today, including LGBT rights, mass incarceration, immigration, abortion, and surveillance.

Romero criticized political extremism and scapegoating for their detrimental role in many of these policy areas — for example, anti-abortion laws and the categorization of drugs as a criminal rather than public health issue.

He also commended the millennial generation for its activist impact on policy — and lawmakers. Addressing the issue of surveillance and Internet restriction, Romero said, “I think your insistence that the Internet be free, that it be open, but not subject to government surveillance … is really your generation’s carrying of the torch.” Continue reading

NBA Commissioner Speaks About Activism in Pro Basketball

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told a Princeton audience that when a handful of the league’s stars wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warm-ups last year, following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, he appreciated their effort to express their point of view.

“Derrick Rose, I think, was the first player to wear the T-shirt,” Silver said. “Credit to him — he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew how much more effective that would be than making a statement to a reporter after a game.” But Silver cautioned that too many political statements on the court would be “a disservice to the fans, who come to see a basketball game.”

Steve Mills ’81, general manager of the New York Knicks, and Craig Robinson ’83, an ESPN commentator and former college coach, joined Silver for a March 24 discussion of “Political Expression and Activism in Today’s NBA,” moderated by Professor Eddie Glaude *97. The event was sponsored by the Center for African American Studies and the Department of Athletics. Continue reading

NSA Director Speaks on Agency’s Duties, Leaks

Adm. Michael S. Rogers spoke in Richardson Auditorium March 10 in a rare public appearance for the director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command.

Admiral Michael S. Rogers (National Security Agency)

Adm. Michael S. Rogers (National Security Agency)

Noting that the “rights of the individual and privacy are inherent characteristics of our very self as a nation” while also bearing in mind the increasing number and potency of threats from cyberspace, Rogers cited his desire to begin a conversation with the public about striking a balance between individual rights and the nation’s security.

“I’m interested in a dialogue about how we will work our way through this challenge as a nation,” Rogers said. “What we are comfortable with, and what we are not comfortable with.”

Rogers briefly described the NSA’s chain of command and oversight mechanisms, including its accountability to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the U.S. federal court that oversees judicial warrants for certain kinds of domestic intelligence gathering.

“Every nation has their approach to this. I right now probably have more oversight and more responsibility to people outside my organization than any of my foreign counterparts, in some ways,” Rogers said.

In the question-and-answer portion, Rogers was asked about the NSA’s data-collection practices and its respect for the privacy of U.S. citizens. One exchange was tense. Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: A Magical Campus

Stephanie Chen ’09 rehearses for a magic-themed Princeton Atelier performance in 2009. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)

(Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)

Stephanie Chen ’09, above, was floating for credit in her senior year when she took part in a show presented by undergraduates in the Princeton Atelier course on “The Magical: Magic, Comedy, Theater,” funded in part by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project. The project, then in its fifth year, had provided more than $1 million in grants to support performances, course development, conferences, and equipment at Princeton. Its work continues today in areas ranging from chemistry to engineering to the performing arts. Continue reading

Legendary Singer Paul Simon Speaks About Creating Songs, and Joy

Paul Simon performs at Richardson Auditorium March 3. (Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications)

Paul Simon performs at Richardson Auditorium March 3. (Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications)

Singer and songwriter Paul Simon was more interested in baseball than music as a child, he told an audience of Princeton students, faculty, and staff in a conversation with creative writing professor Paul Muldoon in Richardson Auditorium March 3.

Simon, who first emerged on the music scene as a teenager as part of the duo Simon and Garfunkel, discussed the purpose of art and how he gets ideas for his lyrics, and closed the event by singing “The Sound of Silence.” He also played a recording of a new song, “The Insomniac’s Lullaby.” The event opened with a cappella group the Nassoons singing several of Simon’s songs.

Creating art “is about emotions, trying to reach other people. It’s about art as beauty,” Simon said. Discussing whether one should donate money to help cure a disease or fund a museum, Simon explained the importance of art for him: “If we don’t acknowledge the highest part of our humanity, it’s not a full picture. It’s not who we are. It doesn’t examine joy enough. That’s the privilege of being a human being.” Continue reading

Cross-Generational Career Tips: Classes of ’66, ’91, and ’16 Gather for Networking Event

Much has changed at Princeton between 1966 and today, but alumni can still recall the anxiety of deciding what to do after graduation. Through a special networking evening for the Class of 2016, members of the Class of 1966 and Class of 1991 returned to campus Feb. 24 to offer career advice and encourage current students to follow their passions.

The networking event helped to expose students to a wide range of fields, including law, finance, technology, and nonprofits, and revealed the nonlinear career paths of successful alumni. Planned in conjunction with Career Services, there were 48 students and 10 alumni at the event.

Students like Tiffany Chen ’16 said they enjoyed hearing anecdotes from alumni about their changing career goals. “For me, this was really reassuring and inspiring to see how many people didn’t have plans or completely went off what they were going to do. I don’t know yet what I want to do, and it’s nice to know that I’ll be OK eventually,” Chen said. Continue reading