Category Archives: Campus News

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

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

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

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