Tag Archives: Woodrow Wilson School

Tiger of the Week: MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Rapping *92

Jonathan Rapping *92 (Courtesy the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Jonathan Rapping *92 (Courtesy the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Lawyer Jonathan Rapping *92 and his wife, Ilham Askia, two leading advocates of legal defense for the poor, created the Atlanta-based organization Gideon’s Promise to train and support public defenders. (The name comes from Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 Supreme Court case that required state courts to provide counsel to defendants who are unable to afford an attorney.) Since the group’s founding in 2007, it has grown to include a community of 300 attorneys, and Rapping’s work has been featured in the award-winning documentary film Gideon’s Army.

This week, Gideon’s Promise received an additional boost when Rapping was chosen as a 2014 MacArthur fellow, an honor that comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend, paid out over five years. Popularly known as the “genius grant,” the award is given to “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future,” according to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has selected more than 900 fellows since the program began in 1981.

Rapping, a Woodrow Wilson School MPA graduate who subsequently completed law school at George Washington University, is one of four fellows honored for their work “to address persistent social challenges.” He also serves as an associate professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Rapping told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sees public defense as civil rights work for the current generation of lawyers. “I’ve met passionate defenders who entered the legal profession for the right reasons, and the system beat the passion out of them,” Rapping said. “So my wife and I started an organization, a supportive community of lawyers who are working to force the system to live up to its highest ideals.” As for the money, he told the newspaper that it would help Gideon’s Promise “keep the doors open,” which can be an annual challenge for nonprofits. Continue reading

Gellman ’82 Discusses Snowden in Wilson School Talk

There has never been anything like Edward Snowden’s leak of hypersensitive NSA information, reporter Barton Gellman ’82 said in a Sept. 17 talk at the Woodrow Wilson School. Not even the Wikileaks documents were as highly classified.

Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Woodrow Wilson School author-in-residence, joined former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer, who served as moderator, to discuss the Snowden affair in front of a full house at Dodds Auditorium. Gellman, who has played a leading role in The Washington Post’s coverage of the NSA surveillance programs, began the talk by explaining how he came into contact with Snowden, initially through a colleague who received information in encrypted messages from the former NSA employee.

On the subject of NSA operations and secrecy, Gellman said, “The NSA has, with court authority for seven years and without court authority for some years before that, collected the records of every single phone call that all of you made.” Most members of Congress did not understand what the executive branch had authorized, he said, adding that the NSA can keep its operations secret because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “relies entirely on the NSA to self-report.”

So were Snowden’s actions justified?

Snowden’s argument for doing what he did was to give the public a broad understanding of what the government was doing, according to Gellman. The revelations have raised the question of how to balance liberty and security — a question that, in Gellman’s view, remains unanswered. Gellman also said that he had yet to see a poll in which more Americans saw Snowden as a traitor than as someone who promoted an important debate.

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At Wilson School, Crocker *85 critiques ‘pull back … pivot to Asia’ policy

Ryan Crocker *85, career ambassador with the U.S. Foreign Service, cautioned against a shift towards “neo-isolationism” at the Woodrow Wilson School’s annual colloquium May 4. 

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Ryan Crocker *85 (Photo: U.S. Department of State)

“I worry about the increasing mood in the administration of ‘pull back, fix our own problems, and if we’re going to do something, pivot to Asia,’” said Crocker. “If you pivot to Asia, you expose a very important part of your anatomy to the Middle East, which is probably going to bite it very hard.” 

This year’s colloquium, on “Challenges to U.S. Policy in the Middle East,” drew 175 graduate alumni and their guests and featured several prominent speakers, including former Sen. George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace from 2009-11, who delivered Friday’s keynote. Crocker, who spent four decades in the Foreign Service and served as ambassador throughout the Middle East, most recently in Afghanistan, spoke during the Saturday keynote address. 

Crocker said that his experience left him with two lessons: Be careful what you get into, but be just as careful of what you get out of. “Disengagement can have consequences as great and grave as getting in in the first place,” Crocker said. 

The greatest challenge facing the current administration is Pakistan, he argued, with nuclear weapons, instability, and a government willing to support the Taliban “as a hedge against U.S. withdrawal.”  

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Terrorism prosecutor Martins emphasizes ‘justice, rather than vengeance’

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Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, visited Princeton Feb. 27. (Photo: Ellis Liang ’15)

Military commissions are necessary judicial institutions, Chief Prosecutor of U.S. Military Commissions Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said in a Feb. 27 lecture at the Woodrow Wilson School.

Martins, the chief prosecutor for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, emphasized that in contrast to civilian courts, military commissions have a different standard of evidence and jury composition, which are essential for dealing with cases related to armed conflict. However, Martins added that new forms of conflict, such as terrorism, blur the lines between civilian and war crimes.

“The nature of the threat is that something can be regarded both as a violation of the law of war — a war crime — and a violation of the domestic law. Those are not mutually exclusive categories, and that’s where the controversy of how you’re regarding this challenge comes in,” Martins said. 

Martins pointed out that one difference of military commissions is in allowing hearsay evidence, prompting Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs Kim Lane Scheppele to ask what that implies for evidence gathered through coercion.

“The hearsay rule in Anglo-American jurisprudence is the way that we screen out torture,” Scheppele said, “so when the hearsay rule is relaxed, it’s hitting the front line in the American system or the English system, the barrier that keeps out evidence collected by torture or by coercion.”

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Cooper ’61 explores Woodrow Wilson’s presidency in campus talk

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John Milton Cooper ’61 (Photo: John Cooper k’61)

Historians of early 20th century America are often drawn to one of the era’s two towering figures: Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson 1879. For John Milton Cooper ’61, an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin, all signs seemed to point to the latter.

Cooper attended a Washington, D.C., high school named for Wilson. He then came to Princeton, where Wilson had studied, taught, and served as president. He even earned a graduate fellowship that bore Wilson’s name. But connecting those dots would be a “historiographical fallacy,” Cooper joked in a recent talk at Princeton. He chose Wilson primarily because of his scholarly interests in World War I and progressivism.

Regardless of the initial motivation, Cooper has made remarkable contributions to Wilson scholarship, including Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, which earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2010. With the 100th anniversary of Wilson’s presidential inauguration approaching, Cooper came to the Woodrow Wilson School Feb. 21 for a public conversation with professor and presidential historian Julian Zelizer.

In two terms as president, Wilson helped to shape important events — perhaps most notably by mobilizing the United States for its entry into World War I. But Cooper said that Wilson also “stands extremely tall” in terms of the skills that he brought to the office.

His first term, for example, brought the passage of an impressive legislative agenda, made possible by Wilson’s knack for influencing Congress.

“Woodrow Wilson went to speak before Congress more than any other president before him or any other president after him,” Cooper said. “This was his way to reach a national audience. … What Wilson was doing is what presidents do now when they go on TV. [Going to Congress] was a way of making sure that he got maximum coverage.”

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Social media expert boyd explores privacy, ethics in Wilson School talk

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danah boyd (Photo: Courtesy danah boyd/danah.org)

Internet expert danah boyd studies the intersection of technology and society, particularly in the ways that young people use social media. “I’m an ethnographer,” she explained in a Feb. 18 talk at the Woodrow Wilson School.“I spend most of my time trying to understand everyday practices and how to map what is going on in our lives.”

A senior researcher at Microsoft Research, boyd (who legally changed her name to include only lowercase letters) described the four “affordances,” or functional qualities, that accompany new technology: persistence, replicability, searchability, and scalability. In other words, information generated online will stick and spread; people can be searched, and their words can be seen by millions.

“Part of the online environment is that we often don’t know what the context is, we’re negotiating it, and again it gets complicated when you think about persistence or when you think about things spreading,” boyd said.

The idea that young people do not care about online privacy is a myth, in boyd’s view. “The first thing to realize is that a lot of young people have chosen to be in a public, which is different from choosing to be public,” she said, noting that this distinction colors the way young people try to control their social situations when online.

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Daniels ’71 discusses government efficiency in campus visit

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Mitch Daniels ’71 (Photo: Ray Taylor, via Wikipedia)
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels ’71, nearing the end of his second and final term at the helm of the Hoosier state, visited the Woodrow Wilson School Oct. 25 to speak about the reforms his administration enacted in the last eight years. The event was sponsored by Innovations for Successful Societies, a University program that plans to publish a case study of Indiana’s state government in November.
 
Daniels, a former director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, recounted some of his favorite examples of changes in state agencies, from reducing wait times at the department of motor vehicles to providing less expensive but more nutritious meals in the state’s prisons. He credited better measurement and employee incentives, such as performance pay, for encouraging improvement.
 
“Government is the last monopoly, and in the absence of any competition, there is very little impulse to do things better,” Daniels said.
 
Daniels also said that government unions are a “huge impediment” to change. On his first day in office, he rescinded a predecessor’s executive order requiring state employees to pay union dues and ended collective bargaining for public workers. Those moves, Daniels said, streamlined the process of reform by allowing the state to pursue private contracts for certain government services.
 

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Admiral-turned-professor Mullen addresses the ‘strategic ecology’ of global interdependence

With an American flag pin on his lapel and no need for podium or microphone, Adm. Mike Mullen looked and sounded every inch the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff when he spoke at the Scholars in the Nations Service Initiative (SINSI) annual event Oct. 18.
 
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Professor Mike Mullen, pictured in his former role as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in 2007. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Mullen, currently the Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School, described the “strategic ecology” of global interdependence, in which states must cooperate in the long term with each other and also with global “neighborhoods” in solving transnational problems such as joblessness, rising urbanization, extremism, and climate change.
 
Starting with China and the Asia Pacific region and promising to “walk around the world,” Mullen outlined the local and global problems he observed. He moved fluidly from discussing China’s hunger for resources to North Korea’s young, untested leader to a nuclear Pakistan and Syrian sectarian violence.
 
“We have moved from a time of control, which is what the Cold War was, to, I think, a time of influence,” he said, emphasizing the necessity for multilateral diplomacy. “It’s a time where we can’t do this alone.”
 

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Former ambassadors speak on ongoing violence in Middle East

In response to the recent anti-American violence in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, two Woodrow Wilson School professors and former U.S. ambassadors addressed the Princeton community Sept. 19. Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and Barbara Bodine, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, spoke before a packed audience of students and community members in Dodds Auditorium.
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Kurtzer suggested that the displays of violence, which he called “horrific” and “terroristic,” demand a reassessment of the way Americans view the Middle East and its people. Such violence, he said, “happens against a backdrop of a certain way of thinking which we as Americans need to understand.”
Describing American embassies in these countries as “large and convenient targets,” Kurtzer recommended rethinking “the American footprint in the Middle East” and how the U.S. conducts diplomacy. Having had a staff of over 2,200 people in his own embassy, Kurtzer offered that a “leaner and meaner presence” may better serve U.S. interests in this region in the future.
Bodine similarly suggested that the events posed a “legitimate question about how we present ourselves in the Middle East” and a corresponding need to reconsider the size and structure of American embassies.

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Ai Weiwei sculpture begins year-long exhibition in Princeton

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Photo: Marianne Nelson/PAW
The appointment of new dean Cecilia Rouse was the most newsworthy change at the Woodrow Wilson School this week, but the addition of “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” a sculpture by the Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei, may be a close second. The installation will be on display in Scudder Plaza through Aug. 1, 2013, and according to Ai’s exhibit website, it was inspired by traditional sculptures “that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing.” Ai helped to design Beijing’s Olympic National Stadium and also made headlines in 2011 when he was detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days.

Rouse named Wilson School dean

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Cecilia Rouse (Photo: Jon Roemer/Office of Communications)
Economics and public affairs professor Cecilia Rouse has been named the new dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. Rouse, a faculty member for two decades, fills the post previously held by Christina Paxson, who resigned in June to become president of Brown University.
 
Rouse is a well-known scholar of the economics of education. She served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011.
 
In an announcement of the appointment, President Tilghman said, “Her scholarly distinction in the fields of labor economics and education policy, coupled with her extensive experience in Washington, epitomize the best of the school’s tradition of applying rigorous social science research to inform public policy.”
 
“My goal will be to elevate even further the school’s stature and impact in the policy arena,” Rouse said. “It should be the go-to place for anyone interested in dynamic, insightful, timely domestic and international policy analysis and dialogue, and where a diverse set of undergraduate and graduate students are trained to become the policy leaders of the future."
 
Rouse joined the Princeton faculty in 1992 after earning her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. In 2001, she started the Education Research Section, an interdisciplinary unit at the Wilson School that promotes the use of research in education decision-making.

Wilson School colloquium examines ‘state of the states’

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During the keynote discussion kicking off the Woodrow Wilson School’s 10th annual colloquium April 13, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., likened the past year’s action in Congress to a game of chicken.
 “At least part of the car went off the cliff last summer when the bond rating was downgraded,” Holt said.
With hotly contested elections coming up this fall, combined with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and mandatory spending cuts that risk another government shutdown, Holt and fellow keynote speaker Rep. Leonard Lance *82, R-N.J., said the game isn’t over.
This year’s colloquium, “The State of the States,” brought together more than 150 Wilson School graduate alumni and faculty. The gathering focused on state policymaking because most of the action in domestic policy is at the state level. In two days of panel discussions, participants covered education, health care, energy, and economic development, offering a chance to step back and consider both the challenges and opportunities facing policymakers in the months and years ahead.
“It’s an extraordinary moment of political uncertainty, but an opportune time for discussion about the future,” Princeton history professor Keith Wailoo said during the panel on health care.
With a wide range of stakeholders fighting over a shrinking pot, the challenges states face in providing health care and implementing reforms aren’t going away, said Heather Howard, a lecturer in public affairs and director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network.

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Wilson School Dean Paxson named president of Brown

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Woodrow Wilson School Dean Christina Paxson, in 2009. (Photo: Larry Levanti/Courtesy Woodrow Wilson School)
Economist Christina Paxson, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, will become the president of Brown University in July. She succeeds Ruth Simmons, who was an administrator at Princeton for a decade.
 
“The search committee at Brown University has made a truly inspired choice for its 19th president, although it means that Princeton will lose one of its most distinguished faculty members and effective academic administrators,” President Tilghman said.
 
Dean since 2009, Paxson has led the Wilson School though a period of significant change. Selective admission to the school will end next year as major changes in the undergraduate curriculum take effect.
 
Paxson, a professor of economics and public affairs at the University for 26 years, said she was grateful for “incredible opportunities to develop as a teacher, scholar, and administrator.” Her recent research has focused on economic status and health outcomes over the life course, especially on the health and welfare of children. In 2000 she founded the Center for Health and Wellbeing, a research center in the Wilson School.
 
“I am drawn to Brown’s distinctive approach to education and scholarship, with its emphasis on intellectual independence and free inquiry,” she said.
 

Related stories:

A moment with Dean Christina Paxson (Sept. 23, 2009, issue)

Nye ’58 lectures focus on presidential styles, objectives, and ethics

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Scholar and international affairs expert Joseph S. Nye Jr. ’58 spoke to packed audiences in Robertson Hall Feb. 21 and 22, discussing American presidential leadership in foreign policy as part of the 2012 Richard Ullman Lecture Series.
 
Nye, a former dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, worked with collaborator (and current Princeton professor) Robert Keohane to develop the theory of neoliberalism in their 1977 book Power and Interdependence. He also has held posts that included chairman of the National Intelligence Council in 1993-94 and assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Clinton administration.
 
Nye’s first lecture focused on the efficacy of seven presidents who presided over what Nye called the “American era.” He separated the definition of leadership into two categories — style and objectives — with two subtypes each. Leaders, he said, can have inspirational or transactional styles and transformational or incremental objectives.
 
According to Nye, the differences between broadly transformational and transactional leadership can also be described in terms of “soft power” and “hard power,” with the ideal mix of the two being “smart power,” which uses “contextual IQ” to combine resources and understand the situation.

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Former ambassador, experts discuss developments in Syria

i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgFormer U.S. Ambassador to Syria Richard Murphy headlined a Feb. 7 panel discussion on political developments in Syria that drew a standing-room-only audience at Robertson Hall. Woodrow Wilson School visiting lecturer Marwa Daoudy and graduate student Karam Nachar, a Syrian grassroots organizer, joined Murphy on the panel.

Murphy, whom Wilson School professor Daniel Kurtzer introduced as “one of the great practitioners of the art of diplomacy,” opened the discussion of the ongoing Syrian revolution against President Bashar Assad’s regime, which has escalated in brutality since the revolution’s inception last March during the Arab Spring.

As a young consulate aide in Syria in the 1960s and later as the U.S. ambassador in the 1970s, Murphy witnessed the rise to power of Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, and the “iron hand” with which his regime governed.

Murphy recounted some of his early experiences to highlight Syria’s present-day situation. He described one consulate party where a skit portraying the king of Jordan as a “dancing monkey on the leash of Western imperialism” caused the Syrian officials to shout with laughter. “Syria has always been a destroyer,” Murphy said, referencing the country’s nearly three decades of occupying Lebanon and its history of cooperating with Iran, Hezbollah, and terrorist groups.

He particularly excoriated Bashar Assad for his nearsightedness and pride. According to Murphy, Assad “did not foresee that the Arab Spring would sweep into his country” and “takes pride in standing alone,” despite being vilified for his use of force against his own people.

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Remembering Agnes Pearson, a ‘rare treasure’ at the Wilson School

One of the Woodrow Wilson School’s most beloved community members, former facilities and services director Agnes Pearson, died Nov. 26 at her home in Levittown, Pa. Pearson had retired in 1997 after working for more than 20 years at the school.
 
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgPearson was known for making sure everything ran smoothly in the school, whether that meant carefully planning a foreign ambassador’s visit or making sure the school’s lounge was stocked with coffee — a feature not overlooked by busy students.
 
Over the course of her career at Princeton, Pearson developed a close relationship with Wilson School students, whom she came to address as “kiddos.” They would seek her out if they needed assistance with a task, big or small.
 
“The students will remember her with great fondness as someone who genuinely cared about them and was willing to help them in any way she could, whatever it took,” said Wardell Robinson-Moore, former assistant dean of the Wilson School and the current executive director of Princeton-Blairstown Center.
 

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Former ambassador Bodine sees fragile future in Yemen

Ambassador-in-Residence Barbara Bodine discussed Yemen’s development, challenges, and future for an audience of about 80 students and community members in Robertson Hall Oct. 11. The speech opened a Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) series on Arab political development.
 
Bodine, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 1997-2001 and a lecturer in public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, began her talk by comparing Yemen 30 years ago to the country today.
 
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgThen and now, she said, the country was “politically precarious, economically precarious, and beset by external forces that wish it ill.” It also had the same ruler, the initially unpromising president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
 
Bodine sees some common threads in the Arab Spring events of this year – “demography, economy, technology, and democracy” – and demography, in her view, is a particularly salient issue in Yemen. More than 50 percent of the population is under 15 years old, youth unemployment has reached 60 percent, and fertility rates are among the highest in the world at six to seven children per family.
 
“There is high correlation between youth disproportion and civil instability,” she said, pointing out that young Arabs have no memory of the creation of Israel, a non-theocratic Iran, or perhaps even the first Gulf War, and their worldviews have been influenced by the availability of satellite television.
 
Bodine also stressed how close Yemen was – and still is – to becoming a “failed state” and examined how Saleh managed to retain control even during last spring’s political and social upheaval. She cited the opposition coalition’s total disorganization and Saleh’s own relative popularity as reasons for his current, if tenuous, grasp on power.
 

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Kurtzer: Obama administration ‘finding its voice’ on Egypt crisis

By Angela Wu ’12
 
The U.S. has a delicate balancing act to preserve in Egypt, said Daniel Kurtzer, a former ambassador to Egypt and the S. Daniel Abraham Professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies, at a talk in the Woodrow Wilson School Feb. 1.
 
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpg“The shelf life of my analysis is about an hour,” he joked. Just before the talk, President Hosni Mubarak had announced that he would not run for reelection. What leadership will take Mubarak’s place is still unclear, as demonstrators begin to call for regime change.
 
Kurtzer said that the opposition lacked a “natural leader,” though Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has become in some ways the face of the movement. He also cautioned that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, potentially could “hijack” the political situation in order to achieve its goal of making Egypt an Islamist state.
 

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Wilson School auction helps at-risk youth

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Greater Donnelly Neighborhood Initiative trustees Pat Pickrel, left, and Joe Woodby attended the December auction that supported the north Trenton nonprofit. (Photos courtesy Jennifer Onofrio GS)
By Carolyn Edelstein ’10 GS
 
Members of the Princeton community were in festive spirits at the Woodrow Wilson School’s sixth annual public service auction Dec. 16. Nibbling on holiday desserts, guests milled around tables in Robertson Hall’s Shultz Dining Room adorned with autographed books, handcrafted statues, and imported silks. For the third consecutive year, the event supported the Greater Donnelly Neighborhood Initiative, a nonprofit organization that runs programs for at-risk youth in the north Trenton area.
 
Graduate student Jennifer Onofrio spearheaded the organizing team of two dozen Wilson School volunteers. Students also donated goods and services, including private language lessons, catered three-course meals with wine pairings, and five hours of chauffeuring. A lunch with Dean Christina Paxson sparked at least one inter-class bidding war. Graduate student Kevin Smith brought his cowboy hat and Kentucky twang to his role as auctioneer.
 

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Wilson School juniors pitch recommendations in D.C.

By this point in the academic year, most Princeton juniors have several things in common: They’ve stayed up late, downed too much coffee, and spent hours in the library working feverishly on their junior papers. But few can say they have discussed their junior papers with administrators like Massie Ritsch ’98, deputy assistant secretary for external and outreach services at the U.S. Department of Education, or bumped into Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on their way to a meeting.
 
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Woodrow Wilson School students met with alumnus Massie Ritsch ’98, at center in blue shirt, at the Department of Education. (Courtesy Jennifer Monson ’11)

A dozen undergraduates did both of those things Jan. 5 when they traveled to Washington, D.C., to present their independent work to Department of Education staffers as part of the Woodrow Wilson School task force “Secondary Education and College Preparation: What is the Federal Role?” Students were given about 10 minutes each to talk about their research and policy recommendations, after which they received feedback on the feasibility of their projects.

 
“The purpose of the trip was to assemble a panel of real politicians from the Department of Education who work on the ground on all these issues that the juniors spent a semester researching,” Miheer Matre ’11, a senior commissioner of the task force, explained. “It’s neat to share those findings.”
 

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Tiger of the Week: Robert Harris *85

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Robert Harris *85 (Courtesy Partnership for Public Service/Sam Kittner – Kittner.com)

In the 1896 speech that would give Princeton its informal motto, “in the nation’s service,” Woodrow Wilson 1879, then the University president, called on the campus to open its classrooms to the “air” of public affairs. “I do not mean the air of party politics,” he clarified, “but the air of the world’s transactions, … the sense of the duty of man towards man.” Robert Harris *85, a deputy legal adviser for the State Department and master’s graduate from the public-policy school that bears Wilson’s name, has pursued the “duty of man towards man” (or “human towards human”) in his 25 years at the State Department, becoming a leader in America’s work to support international human rights and the rights of refugees. Earlier this year, Harris was a finalist for a Sammy (Service to America Medal), an honor that recognizes excellence among federal civil servants. The citation commended his work to “protect civil and political rights of individuals worldwide.” Last week, Harris was profiled as the Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Player of the Week, published in The Washington Post.

 
The Post story was filled with praise from State Department colleagues. Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh said Harris has “completely reshaped the human rights agenda.” Michael Kozak, a senior adviser on democracy, human rights and labor, called him “a skillful and persistent negotiator.” And Samuel Witten, the former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for population, said that Harris “has respect for our treaty obligations, professional integrity, [and] confidence that he can get things done.”
 
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.

Cambanis *00 explores Hezbollah in campus talk

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Thanassis Cambanis *00 (Michael Robinson Chavez)

Thanassis Cambanis *00 first went to Lebanon in 2006 as the Middle East bureau chief for The Boston Globe. After three years in Baghdad reporting on the Iraq War, Cambanis had been assigned to cover the war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Islamist political party and paramilitary group based in Lebanon that the United States lists as a terrorist organization. He had seen the influence of Hezbollah on Iraqi Islamist insurgents, and he wanted to find out what made the group tick.

 
In a Nov. 9 speech at the Woodrow Wilson School, Cambanis traced Hezbollah’s influence throughout the different strata of Lebanese society, from a hard-core fighter he met in the rubble of a border town to the modern “soccer mom” who felt a strong cultural link to Hezbollah.
 
“This connection between the constituents of Hezbollah and the party is at once political, martial, and spiritual,” Cambanis said.
 

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Scholars voice support for New York mosque project

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Three Princeton scholars gathered on Sept. 27 to discuss the proposed New York City Muslim center Park 51, previously known as Cordoba House (or, to some, the “Ground Zero mosque”), and the controversy surrounding it.

The panelists – Professor Mark Cohen of Near Eastern studies, Professor Amaney Jamal of politics, and Provost Chris Eisgruber ’83, a professor in the Woodrow Wilson School – approached the controversy from different angles. Each concluded that the proposed Islamic cultural center near the former World Trade Center site should not only be allowed but embraced for the cultural understanding it could foster.

Cohen began by highlighting the claims some have made that the name Cordoba House invokes a symbol of Islamic conquest. The reference is to the city of Cordoba, Spain, which Muslims conquered in the eighth century. In fact, Cohen said, that claim of symbolism is inaccurate because Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived alongside one another in peace in the city of Cordoba under Muslim rule.

“Can Cordoba serve as a symbol for tolerance and mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims today?” Cohen asked.  “Yes it can … as long as we remember the shared culture [in Cordoba] that created bonds between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.”

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Jones promotes green economy in campus lecture

For Van Jones, simply establishing a green economy is not enough. Instead, America must establish what he calls “equitable ecocapitalism”: a clean energy economy that provides equal opportunity and new jobs. An economy, Jones said, “that Dr. King would be proud of.” 

Jones, a former White House adviser serving as a distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, challenged those who do not believe in the power of clean energy during a Sept. 27 campus lecture.
 
Fossil fuels are unacceptable, in Jones’ view. “You think oil is cool, but to run your country based on oil and coal is to run your country based on death,” he said. Fossil fuels, Jones noted, are made up of the remains of living creatures that died a long time ago – our biological ancestors. “So of course it shouldn’t shock you that if you pull death out of the ground to run your engines, your power stations, that you will eventually have death in the skies and the seas. You are running a society based on death!” he said.

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Student snapshots from a semester in Cuba

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The Havana skyline.

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Max Branzburg ’11 with Pablo, a young Cuban friend.

By Giri Nathan ’13

(Photos courtesy Bryan Locascio ’11)

Nine juniors recently returned from a unique semester abroad, marking the end of the Woodrow Wilson School’s first ever task force in Cuba. Based at the University of Havana, the students researched population and development issues, took local courses, and absorbed the cultural nuances of this very different nation.

The task force was held at the university’s Centro de Estudios Demografico (CEDEM), and according to Dean Nancy Kanach, director of the Office of International Programs, the CEDEM staff was “very impressed with the Princeton students.” Under the staff’s guidance, the students were free to examine a variety of demographic policy issues.

“My research focused on the legal protection of maternity in Cuba,” said participant Bryan Locascio ’11. “I looked at Cuba’s parental leave and child care policies against progress that has been made internationally. Chi [Anunwa ’11] examined Cuba’s remittance policies and their effects on racial stratification. Max [Branzburg ’11] studied national disaster policy and the steps that Cuba and the United States could take to coordinate their efforts in this regard.”

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Tiger of the Week: Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87

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(Photo by Beverly Schaefer)

Less than a month ago, shortly after Princeton’s Commencement ceremony, Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87 walked to the podium in Nassau Hall’s Faculty Room to address five soon-to-be-commissioned Army ROTC graduates, two from Princeton and three from The College of New Jersey. It was Petraeus’ second trip to campus in five months — he also accepted the University’s James Madison Medal at February’s Alumni Day celebration — and his commissioning remarks touched on his affection for Princeton. But the bulk of the general’s speech was devoted to leadership advice for the new officers.

“Everything you do will be scrutinized intently, emulated, and commented on by those you are privileged to lead,” Petraeus said. “If you continue to lean forward, your troopers will, too. … But if you slack off, if you let down and blow off the standard, they’ll do the same unless great noncommissioned officers prevent it. In short, your attitude will echo and re-echo throughout your unit.”

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Tiger of the Week: Holly Harrison *09

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When Holly Harrison *09 first applied to the Coast Guard Academy, she was turned down because she didn’t meet the eyesight requirements. But she applied again and was accepted after the vision standard for officers was adjusted, opening the way for a distinguished career. In 2003 Lt. Commander Harrison became the first woman to command a Coast Guard ship in a combat zone as the captain of the Aquidneck, a 110-foot cutter deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Later that year she was awarded the Bronze Star medal in recognition of her “meritorious achievement in combat operations, uncommon bravery, unparalleled leadership, and tactical brilliance.”

Earning her master’s degree in public policy, Harrison said she enjoyed the “diverse perspectives” of her colleagues: “My Princeton experience was really about the people at the Woodrow Wilson School.” She currently is a program reviewer in the Office of Budget and Programs at Coast Guard headquarters, and the White House announced June 22 that Harrison has been chosen as one of 13 White House fellows for 2010-11. Fellows are selected on the basis of professional achievement, leadership potential, and commitment to public service. After the fellowship, Harrison figures it will be time to get back to sea — she hopes there will be a 270-foot cutter awaiting her next tour of duty.

(Photo courtesy Holly Harrison *09)

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.

Tiger of the Week: Sally Blount ’83

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March 30 marked a homecoming for Sally Blount ’83, the next dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Blount, an engineering systems and Woodrow Wilson School major at Princeton, received her Ph.D. from Kellogg, and in her introductory meeting with students, she shared her excitement for the new job, which she will begin in July. Finance professor Janice Eberly, chairwoman of the dean search committee, also was upbeat, saying that Blount “is ready to take Kellogg to the next level.”

Blount, a former consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, has taught at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and New York University’s Stern School of Business. Most recently, she served as the vice dean at Stern, overseeing innovations in the undergraduate business curriculum and setting records as a fund-raiser.

Kellogg ranked third in Bloomberg BusinessWeek‘s latest list of top business schools — behind the University of Chicago and Harvard — and the magazine gave the new dean high marks in an April 1 feature story:

“Blount is a bold choice for Kellogg — a master fund-raiser at a time when Kellogg’s endowment sustained annual losses of 26 percent in 2009 and a curriculum innovator with a global bent and extensive international experience at a time when Kellogg is seeking to continue extending its global reach.”

(Photo courtesy of New York University, Stern School of Business)

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.

Bodine, Johnsen discuss Yemen

i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgYemen is a poor, highly rural nation with staggering population growth, dwindling oil production, and little infrastructure, former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told an audience at Dodds Auditorium Jan. 13. “It is also a 20-year-old fragile, emerging, but real democracy,” she added, noting that Yemen has repeated elections, political parties, and a relatively free press.

Bodine, a diplomat-in-residence at the Woodrow Wilson School, joined Gregory Johnsen, a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern studies and former Fulbright fellow in Yemen, to debunk some of the popular perceptions of Yemen and discuss economic assistance and counterterrorism in the country that grabbed international headlines for its ties to the man who attempted to bomb a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas Day.

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