Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

Names in the news: Chart toppers

Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87 is Barbara Walters’ most fascinating person of 2010. Last year’s honoree also was a Princetonian – First Lady Michelle Obama ’85. [ABC News]
On a short list of the decade’s top CEOs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ’86 and Google’s Eric Schmidt ’76 each rank among the top five. [MarketWatch]
Twitter’s official 2010 list of notable new users includes Queen Noor of Jordan ’73 (@queennoor) and Donald Rumsfeld ’54 (@RumsfeldOffice). [Twitter.com]
A profile of crossword champion Dan Feyer ’99 includes a video of him demonstrating his speedy solving skills. [New York Times]
Recent graduate Jonathan Schwartz ’10 plays a key role in the much-anticipated Spider-Man musical. [Broadway.com]

East Wing a cappella: Tigertones visit the White House

The Tigertones made their White House debut Dec. 1 and plan to return for another reception next week. (Courtesy Will McCalpin ’12)

Click here for video of the group’s national anthem performance at a San Diego Chargers game Oct. 31.

Not many college students can say they have performed on the main stage of Carnegie Hall or on the field at a San Diego Chargers football game. Even fewer could say they performed at a party thrown by First Lady Michelle Obama ’85 at the White House. The Tigertones can now say they’ve done all three.

Instead of going to class Dec. 1, the ’Tones traveled to Washington, put on their white-jacket tuxedos, and performed for about 500 guests and the first lady in the East Wing of the White House.
The invitation came only a few days before Thanksgiving, so they had little time to prepare.
“We were frantically learning some Christmas carols in the past week,” tour manager Will McCalpin ’12 said.

Continue reading

Names in the news


In a recent interview, award-winning scientist Elaine Fuchs *77 discussed the wonders of skin cells. [New York Times]

Former basketball star Brian Taylor ’84 was spotlighted for his work as school administrator in Los Angeles. [Voice of America]

After graduation, Peter Dunbar ’10 rode his bike home — all the way to Oxford, Miss., in a span of three weeks. [Oxford Eagle — registration required; Dunbar’s blog]

A local feature story explores the University’s thesis catalog — and what it tells us about famous alumni like Elena Kagan ’81, Michelle Obama ’85, and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean ’57. [Star-Ledger]

Alumni newsmakers


Denny Chin ’75, pictured, a federal judge who was in the news last spring when he sentenced Bernie Madoff, is expected to be nominated to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. [Wall Street Journal]

Longtime ABC TV reporter and commentator John Stossel ’69 has joined Fox News, where he will host a weekly show on the Fox Business Channel and make frequent appearances on Fox News programs. [Newsday/Associated Press]

Lifelong Chicagoan Michelle Obama ’85 will support her hometown’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics at the International Olympic Committee’s meeting in Copenhagen next month. [Chicago Tribune]

The late George Kennan ’25 is one of two Cold War-era policymakers highlighted in the new book The Hawk and the Dove. (Kennan is the titular dove.) [Washington Post]


Film issues a call for action against human trafficking


In the call and response chants that rose up among slaves in the United States, the call signified a need and the response meant that “I hear you and I’m going to rescue you.” Musician and activist Justin Dillon uses this musical concept in his debut documentary film, Call+Response, to address the international problem of human trafficking and promote the modern abolitionist movement.

Dillon’s documentary was screened in McCosh 50 Feb. 10, followed by a panel discussion with Professor Cornel West *80, author and journalist Benjamin Skinner, and activist Bridgit Antoinette Evans.

Dillon’s film focuses on the sexual enslavement of young girls in Cambodia, Thailand, India, and the United States, and he includes several familiar faces who have spoken out against this modern form of slavery (among them musicians Moby, Talib Kweli, and Natasha Bedingfield; actresses Ashley Judd and Julia Ormond; journalist Nicholas Kristof; and former ambassador John Miller). With more than 17,000 people trafficked into the United States every year, the problem hits home, advocate Kathy Maskell of the organization Love146 says in the film.

In the discussion that followed the screening, participants spoke about creating sustainable action for the cause. “You have to play to your core competencies,” Skinner explained, highlighting examples of how plastic surgeons, musicians, and movie directors all have given differently to the cause.

In a call to Princeton students to mobilize behind today’s abolitionist movement, Evans explained that “it’s going to require students to start talking amongst themselves. … Students are a core energy in any major social movement, but they have to be organized.”

And, searching for the response, West pointed to the crowded lecture hall, two-and-a-half hours deep into the presentation. Said West: “For Princeton students to stay this long when they’re all so busy is already a sign that they’re hungry and thirsty.” By Sarah Harrison ’09

[Ed. note: Story updated Feb. 13]


Michelle Obama ’85 joins Nassau Inn wall of fame

Valerie Smith, left, the chairwoman of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies, and sociology department chairman Robert Wuthnow unveil a portrait of Michelle Obama ’85 in the Nassau Inn’s Yankee Doodle Tap Room Feb. 4. The Tap Room wall, an unofficial hall of fame for Princeton alumni, has honored distinguished graduates for more than a half-century.

Obama, whose photo hangs between images of former Secretary of State James A. Baker ’52 and astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad ’53, majored in sociology at Princeton before attending Harvard Law and working as a corporate lawyer and hospital administrator. No word yet on when the first lady plans to autograph the portrait (another Tap Room tradition). Her class will celebrate its 25th reunion in 2010.

(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Cover-worthy: Answers to the Feb. 4 Weekly Blog quiz

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This 1987 alumna was a P-rade sensation in 1986, rising above the Class of 1946 contingent in a Statue of Liberty costume. (It wasn’t the first or last time that her photo was featured on the cover of a magazine.) Answer: Brooke Shields

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PAW’s Oct. 21, 1958, cover shows President Robert Goheen ’40 *48 waiting to begin an interview with this famous CBS News reporter. The cover line reads, simply, “Hello, Ed.” Answer: Edward R. Murrow

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This 1996 cover subject – a Yale Law graduate – was on hand to help Princeton celebrate its 250th anniversary. He returned in 2006 to speak at Class Day. Answer: President Bill Clinton

First first lady

i-1deee4712d1d68d61adbfe37ff724558-obama.jpgTiger of the Week: Michelle Obama ’85

Two Princeton alumni have occupied the White House as presidents — James Madison 1771 and Woodrow Wilson 1879. On Jan. 20, Michelle Robinson Obama ’85 became the first Princetonian to take residence as first lady. That, of course, was a tiny footnote on a remarkable, historic day, celebrated with both pomp and reflection as Barack Obama took the oath of office as the United States’ 44th president.

Michelle Obama’s official White House biography describes her childhood home as a “brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago” — quite a contrast to the most famous residence in America. The new first lady expects that daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, will bring a youthful family atmosphere to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “Our hope is that the White House will feel open and fun and full of life and energy,” she told 60 Minutes in November.

In addition to having an alumna in the White House, Princeton will be well-represented in the new Obama administration (see PAW’s “Obama Watch” for alumni slated to serve in cabinet and administrative posts). Several alumni, including some of Michelle Obama’s classmates and friends, were on hand in Washington for the inauguration. There even was a hint of Princeton orange and black in the scarf worn by Michelle’s brother, Craig Robinson ’83 — or at least that’s what ABC’s Charlie Gibson ’65 guessed. On further review, it appears those colors were for Oregon State. Robinson is the head men’s basketball coach for the Beavers.

(Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP Images)

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

2008: The Year at Princeton


PAW’s annual look at Princeton’s top headlines, on and off campus.

January: Record number of students apply for Class of 2012

In the first application cycle since early admission was ended, the University received a record 20,118 applications, up 6 percent from the previous year. It’s the fourth consecutive year in which admission applications have set a record. Janet Rapelye, dean of admission, said the number and the quality of applicants “exceeded our expectations.” … [Read more]

February: Ethan Coen ’79 wins Oscar

Ethan Coen ’79 and his brother Joel, the directors and screenwriters of No Country for Old Men, earned starring roles at the Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 24. Their film won four Oscars, including the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Another film with Princeton ties, Taxi to the Dark Side, was named the year’s Best Documentary Feature. Todd Wider ’86 and Jedd Wider ’89 served as executive producers of the documentary, which explores the arrest, torture, and death of an Afghani taxi driver at an American Air Force base.

March: Bob Goheen ’40 *48, Princeton’s 16th president, dies (By Merrell Noden ’78)

I was not sure what to expect back in the fall of 2006, as I walked through Robertson Hall on my way to meet Bob Goheen ’40 *48 for the first time. I came to Princeton in 1974, two years after Goheen had stepped down following 15 momentous years as University president. It’s hard to imagine how that time could have been more eventful: Goheen had welcomed minority students in real numbers, overseen the transition to coeducation, and transformed Princeton from an excellent undergraduate school into a world-class research university. To accomplish all that at any time would be an awesome achievement, but to do at a time of widespread paranoia, violence, and uneasiness about change was testament to the deep trust Goheen inspired in faculty and students alike. I knew the legacy but not the man. Goheen’s secretary offered to take me to his office. We rounded a corner and there, walking slowly before us, was Bob Goheen. Sensing that it would be ungracious to catch him, we slowed down to give him time to reach his office. A few moments later he stood up to shake my hand and then sat down, slightly breathless. His hair was rumpled, and he was not wearing his trademark bowtie. There was no self-importance or vanity about him. … [Read more]

April: Keller ’63 makes $25 million gift to strengthen engineering-liberal arts ties

For the last two years, Princeton’s Center for Innovation in Engineering Education has tried to provide an encouraging nudge for faculty pursuing new ideas in engineering classrooms. On April 7, the center received a major boost: a $25 million gift from Dennis Keller ’63, the founding chairman of DeVry Inc., and his wife, Connie, aimed at improving the links between engineering and the liberal arts at Princeton. … [Read more]

May: Researchers catch a star in the act of exploding

On Jan. 9, 2008, Alicia Soderberg, a postdoctoral research associate in astrophysics at Princeton, was studying the X-ray emissions conveyed from space by NASA’s Swift satellite when she recognized an extremely bright light on the screen of her computer, saturating the satellite’s view “as if we had pointed a digital camera directly at the sun,” she said. That light, Soderberg and colleague Edo Berger later confirmed, was a supernova — an explosion of a massive star. Their finding, named Supernova 2008D, or SN 2008D for short, was described in a paper published in Nature May 22. In a May 21 teleconference, Soderberg described the experience as being in the right place, at the right time, with the right telescope. “I truly won the astronomers’ lottery,” she said. … [Read more]

June: More than 20,000 celebrate Reunions 2008

The P-rade is an event for Tigers of many stripes — and for many patterns, prints, and plaids, too. But this year, viewers perched on the banks of Elm Drive likely experienced a sense of déjà vu from two large contingents of alumni donning jackets that featured alternating, finger-width vertical slats of orange and black. The first group was the Class of 1983, marching at the head of the P-rade in brand-new Reunions blazers. The second was the Class of 1958, back for its 50th reunion and wearing the same pattern. (The Class of 1933, which originated those familiar vertical stripes, was not represented in the P-rade, but two widows of class members were on hand at the Old Guard luncheon to celebrate ’33’s 75th.) … [Read more]

July: Andlinger ’52 gives $100 million to Princeton

The University announced a $100 million gift July 1 from Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 to support energy and environmental research. The gift will create the Gerhard R. Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment within the School of Engineering and Applied Science and will support construction of a 110,000-square-foot building, to be called Andlinger Laboratory, between the E-Quad and Bowen Hall. The center will include several new faculty positions; major research areas will include sustainable energy sources, techniques to improve carbon management, and energy efficiency. … [Read more]

August: Lind ’06 wins gold at Olympics

When Caroline Lind ’06 and her U.S. rowing teammates won Olympic gold in the women’s eight, they hugged, cried, smiled, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” with gusto on the medal stand. And in the week that followed, whenever they left the Athletes Village, the gold medals came with them. “I don’t know if many athletes wear their medals,” Lind said, “but my entire team was like, ‘We’re wearing them!'” At clubs and restaurants and on the streets of Beijing, the women were treated like celebrities. By the time Lind returned home, her medal had a tiny nick near the bottom, and its ribbon was starting to pill like an old T-shirt. “It’s well-loved,” she said. Lind was one of 15 Princeton alumni and students who traveled to Beijing as Olympic athletes or coaches. … [Read more]

September: Gehry-designed Lewis Library opens (By W. Barksdale Maynard ’88)

Is Princeton ready for Frank Gehry? Skeptics peering over construction fences at the corner of Washington Road and Ivy Lane had their doubts. Some predicted that Lewis Library would be the scariest thing to fall to earth in central New Jersey since that Martian spacecraft jarred Grover’s Mill 70 years ago — “Mr. Wilmuth, would you please tell the radio audience as much as you remember of this rather unusual visitor that dropped in your backyard?” But when the fences finally came down in the summer, two years later than originally scheduled, the skeptics tiptoed inside. No sign of any tentacled Martians glistening “like wet leather.” A sure cure for lingering aesthetic doubts was a trip to the fourth floor, almost 100 feet up: the soaring ceilings, the mazelike plan full of surprises, the whimsical plywood furniture, and, best of all, the view through giant windows of the rest of this strange building — crooked walls, tilted roofs, shiny steel and painted stucco and orange brick colliding in wild, delightful confusion. … [Read more]

October: Krugman wins Nobel in economics

Looking somewhat sheepish before a packed press conference Oct. 13 in Robertson Hall, economist Paul Krugman accepted the congratulations of friends, students, and colleagues as the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. A professor in the economics department and the Woodrow Wilson School, Krugman earned the award for groundbreaking research in the fields of international trade and economic geography. He is more widely known for his twice-weekly column in The New York Times. … [Read more]

November: Alumni candidates succeed at the polls

Jared Schutz Polis ’96 got a new job Nov. 4. The Internet entrepreneur from Boulder, Colo., asked the people of the state’s 2nd district to “hire” him as their representative in Congress, and on Election Day, a strong majority of voters backed the idea. In an election that will send Michelle Obama ’85 to the White House as first lady next month, Polis was one of six Princetonians to win a congressional or gubernatorial race. … [Read more]

December: Princeton, Robertsons settle donor-intent case

Princeton has settled its six-year legal battle with members of the Robertson family over control of the Robertson Foundation, the University announced Dec. 10. Under the settlement, the University will pay $50 million to a new foundation that will support the preparation of students for government service, and another $40 million to reimburse the Robertsons’ legal fees. The Robertson Foundation will be dissolved, giving Princeton control of the remaining funds, according to a University release. Robertson Foundation assets were worth more than $900 million on June 30, 2008, the end of the University’s fiscal year. … [Read more]

The Year at Princeton Archives: 2007 | 2006

Sweep, sweep, sweep

Cross country teams win Heps

On Oct. 31, Princeton’s men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships for the third consecutive year — an unprecedented feat. This year’s meet included a narrow win by the men and a dominant race by the women. For more details, watch PAW’s exclusive video.

Students cheer returns at ‘White House bicker’


Groups of friends left their reading assignments and problem sets behind on election night, and no, they weren’t heading out to The Street. “White House bicker,” an event sponsored by the class governments, P-Votes, Whig-Clio, and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, drew large crowds as students gathered to get free T-shirts, kettle corn, apple cider, and donuts while they watched the results roll in. For many students, this was the first presidential election in which they were eligible to vote.
Those not willing to brave the crowds at Whig Hall gathered for televised viewing of the results in the residential colleges, eating clubs, and at the Frist Campus Center. Student groups like the James Madison Program provided pizza and dessert for their members while tracking the results on the big screen.
At Whig, cheers erupted as electoral vote projections came in for the respective candidates. Republican stalwarts held out, hopeful that red would creep over the map, but it was clear that the majority of students — 79.3 percent, according a Daily Princetonian poll — supported Barack Obama. By Julia Osellame ’09

Above, students at Whig Hall watch the early returns Nov. 4. (Photo by Julia Osellame ’09)

Names in the news, election edition

A Princetonian — future first lady Michelle Obama ’85 — will take residence in the White House for the first time since the final days of Woodrow Wilson 1879’s presidency. The new presidential spouse told Reuters that her first job will continue to be “mom-in-chief” for daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.


In other news from the Nov. 4 election, Jared Polis ’96, D-Colo., became Colorado’s first openly gay congressman, winning handily in the state’s 2nd district.
Woodrow Wilson School graduate Leonard Lance *82, R-N.J, right, won a seat in the House of Representatives, beating Democrat Linda Stender in a hard-fought race in New Jersey’s 7th district. And Lance’s classmate, Jeff Merkley *82, D-Ore., went to bed late last night with a narrow lead in a too-close-to-call race for a U.S. Senate seat.


Alumni incumbents fared well. Rep. Jim Marshall ’72, D-Ga., left, had the most significant challenge, retaining his seat by winning 55 percent of votes in his district. Rep. John Sarbanes ’84, D-Md., won by a wide margin, earning a second term. Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels ’71 also had a strong victory in his re-election bid.
(Photos: Lance — Wikipedia; Marshall — Congressional Pictorial Directory)

Study break

Rock, paper, scissors — shoot!

Twenty-one Princeton students, including PAW contributor Sarah Harrison ’09, left midterm studying behind Oct. 28 to participate in the debut Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament in Dillon Gym, organized by the Intramural Sports Office. Harrison filed this report for The Weekly Blog.

The best Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) competitors pay no attention to the strategy of their opponents. That tactic worked well for Zacch Olorunnipa ’11.


Olorunnipa reached the finals of the RPS draw, beating out the strategies of other players like senior Rob Barnett, who followed a preconceived pattern in every game he played, and junior Ian Auzenne, who worked off his opponents’ actions.
Auzenne followed a “very complicated” method in which he tried to anticipate the first move of each opponent. Most amateur players draw scissors first, Auzenne explained. He “typically throws down a rock.”
Auzenne sized me up as an amateur, so he was shocked when I started with paper. “So rarely will people throw a paper on the first draw,” he said afterward. Paper trumped rock, and I moved on.
My amateur moves carried me to the finals, but I met my match in Olorunnipa. Olorunnipa “didn’t watch anyone else play,” trying to focus only on “feeling the vibe of the room.” Watching other players would have knocked Olorunnipa off his own game.
Either Olorunnipa’s focus paid off, or my amateur tactics caught up with me. I drew scissors first and he crushed me with his rock. Olorunnipa took home first prize, an iPod nano. By Sarah Harrison ’09
Above, RPS champion Zacch Olorunnipa ’11, top, and runner-up Sarah Harrison ’09. (Photos courtesy of the Intramural Sports Office)

Names in the news, campaign edition

Princeton alumni hit the trail in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, with Tigers popping up on both sides of the aisle. For Sen. John McCain’s camp, Meg Whitman ’77, the former eBay CEO, talked technology in northern Virginia Oct. 27. (McCain has mentioned her as a possible treasury secretary.) Steve Forbes ’70, a former presidential candidate, also supported McCain in Virginia, speaking at an Oct. 25 rally. And actor Dean Cain ’88 took McCain’s side in a debate with fellow celeb Sheryl Crow on Larry King Live Oct. 13.
Sen. Barack Obama has received support from former congressmen Sen. Bill Bradley ’65 (D-N.J.) and Rep. Jim Leach ’64 (R-Iowa), as well as Paul Volcker ’49, the former Fed chairman, who has served as an economic advisor for the Democratic candidate. Eric Schmidt ’76, the CEO of Google, offered his endorsement Oct. 20 and has talked about technology at Obama events. And of course, Michelle Obama ’85 and her older brother, Craig Robinson ’83, the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State, are lending their voices to the campaign.

i-c4a696a5836998532def6a88c111b41f-one-familys-response.jpgNew books: One Family’s Response to Terrorism

In Susan Kerr van de Ven’s recently published memoir, One Family’s Response to Terrorism (Syracuse University Press), the daughter of alumnus Malcolm Kerr ’53 recalls her family’s search for justice after Kerr, the president of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated nearly 25 years ago. The story traces van de Ven’s exploration of evidence, more than a decade after the murder, and the family’s U.S. court case against the Islamic Republic of Iran. It also includes memories of Kerr, family photos and letters, and reflections on violence and politics. Van de Ven, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, runs a creative writing program for children in Cambridge, England.
Visit PAW Online for a list of new books by Princeton alumni and faculty.

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Classics on the Rocks

A musical mix of old and new

Pianist Andy Luse ’02 founded a concert series, Classics on the Rocks, two years ago to attract young adults to classical music performances. Luse and his colleagues have been drawing in younger crowds by spicing up the traditional classical music experience. Presented cabaret-style in small venues like restaurant lounges and clubs in the Washington, D.C., area, the concerts mix jazz, pop, and other styles with classical compositions.
The next performance will take Classics on the Rocks outdoors July 9 at Strathmore, an arts center in North Bethesda, Md. The concert will feature the Dvorak Piano Quintet and a flute-marimba combo with percussionist Paul Fadoul. For more information, visit www.classicsontherocks.com. By Katherine Federici Greenwood

More at PAW Online

PAW’s Web Exclusives for the June 11 issue include:
Songs from Rackett, the rock band that features professors Nigel Smith and Paul Muldoon. Click here to listen and here to read an interview with Smith.
A profile of alumna Lauren (Holuba) Nelson ’04, who received the Shield of Sparta: Heroine of the Infantry, the highest honor given to a military spouse by the National Infantry Association. Click here to read more
The story of the Fred Almgren ’55 Memorial Relay, an annual competition in which mathematicians from Princeton and Rutgers run from Fine Hall to New Brunswick. Click here to read more
Gregg Lange ’70’s Rally ’Round the Cannon column, covering an important transition in the history of Prospect Avenue. Click here to read more

Names in the news

Sports Illustrated featured Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson ’83 in a June 3 story that covered the challenges of his new job and life on the campaign trail with his sister, Michelle Obama ’85, and her famous husband. … In other Obama news, Princeton astrophysics professor J. Richard Gott III *73 and a colleague have deduced, using statistical analysis of polls, that if the general election had been held in late May, the presumptive Democratic nominee would have lost to John McCain, while McCain would have lost to Hillary Clinton. … The Sacramento Bee profiled minor league baseball star Will Venable ’05 and his father, Max, the hitting coach for Will’s team, the Portland Beavers. … An eye-popping final ride in the freestyle kayak event propelled Dustin Urban ’07 to a first-place finish at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo., June 7. Among the winning moves, according to the Vail Daily: an air wheel, 360-loops in both directions, and a McNasty followed by a monster loop.

Farewell for the summer

This edition of The Weekly Blog is the last of the academic year. The final print edition of PAW, featuring coverage of Reunions and Commencement, will be published July 16. The Weekly Blog will return Sept. 17.
Visit the PAW Web site for Reunions videos, slide shows, and breaking summer news.