Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: Jasmine ‘Jazzy’ Ellis ’10, Professional Stunt Performer

Jazzy Ellis ’10 (Courtesy Jas Productions International Digital Media)

Jazzy Ellis ’10 (Courtesy Jas Productions International Digital Media)

As a religion major on the pre-med track at Princeton, Jasmine “Jazzy” Ellis ’10 never thought she’d be jumping off of buildings and working with people like Gerard Butler, Oprah, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a living.

But that changed after graduation, when Ellis moved to New Orleans to start a teaching job and began doing some modeling work on the side. After almost three years of teaching, Ellis realized she wanted to pursue something else. When her modeling agent suggested she try acting in commercials, Ellis decided to give it a shot — and fell in love with the film industry immediately.

“It just blew up, it really worked,” she said. “The more people I met in the [film] industry — and there are a lot of people in the industry in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana — the more I just got enraptured with it. There was no way I couldn’t do film.”

As Ellis began to think about the next step in her career, she realized she still had many things to check off of her extensive bucket list — things like learning to fly a plane, ride a motorcycle, light herself on fire, and surf.

“I realized that a lot of these things on my bucket list that seemed crazy, I could do them as a stunt performer,” she said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Hamilton College CIO Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99

Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 (Jay Ackerman)

Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 (Jay Ackerman)

As a child growing up in a small town in Washington state, Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 had little knowledge of Wall Street and didn’t know what a banker was. When she was accepted to Princeton, Dinneen planned to take the pre-med route to become a doctor like her father — but everything changed during her sophomore year, when she took professor Burton Malkiel’s *64 introduction to economics class.

“That was kind of when the switch was flipped,” Dinneen said. “I think that first exposure to economics, specifically in Malkiel’s class, triggered an interest and a passion — and that’s a bit where my life changed.”

Now, 18 years later, Dinneen is the chief investment officer at Hamilton College, where she is responsible for managing the institution’s nearly $1 billion endowment. One of the youngest endowment CIOs in the country, Dinneen previously worked at the James Irvine Foundation for 11 years, where she had a similar role as an investment manager of the nonprofit organization, overseeing its endowment.

“It’s a similar way of managing institutional money,” she said. “An endowment is so important when you think about everything it funds — faculty, facilities, scholarships, research — it’s so important to the health of a college. We’re really helping to secure the future of this school.”

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Tiger of the Week: Rick Hamlin ’77 Commemorates a Milestone with Songs

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

Rick Hamlin ’77 turned 60 this year and is celebrating the occasion with a creative twist: Since May 22, Hamlin has recorded himself singing one song each day on his phone and has been posting the videos on social media. Now on day 41, Hamlin plans to continue until he reaches day 60, and even came up with his own hashtag for the project – #60SongsIn60Days.

“I’ve always had lots of songs spinning around in my head, and often a song is linked to a place,” said Hamlin, who began singing when he was a child and was a member of the Glee Club, the Footnotes, and Triangle Club while at Princeton.

Each of Hamlin’s videos is unique because he sings each song in a different location. Most of them are recorded in Manhattan, where he lives and works, and backdrops range from the George Washington Bridge to Times Square to Wall Street. His dedication to the project is unfaltering — Hamlin continued to post songs regularly when his family took a trip to Hungary and Austria mid-June, where he sang “lots of Sound of Music.”

Despite the vast distances he has traveled to record his videos, Hamlin doesn’t necessarily know what song he’ll be singing or where he’ll be performing when he wakes up each morning. “I’ll check the lyrics beforehand, but that’s all the planning I do,” he said.

Hamlin said he often chooses the song based on geographical cues, depending on where he happens to be during the day, but he also has sung special songs relating to holidays or weather conditions. He did a rendition of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Noël Coward during a heat wave in New York last week.

Surprisingly, Hamlin said his favorite place to sing was not in front of any of the churches or castles he visited in Europe, but is instead in a location much closer to home.

“The subway tunnels — I love the acoustics,” he said. “But I have to time [the recording] before a train comes, because once it pulls in, its too much noise. But it’s worth it, you get really nice acoustics.”

Before the 60 days are up, Hamlin plans to tap into his Princeton roots by singing “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” by Brooks Bowman ’36 and “Goin’ Back to Nassau Hall.”

“But I’m still taking requests!” he said.

 WATCH: A video from Hamlin’s #60SongsIn60Days (Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love”)
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Tiger of the Week: Journalist Ben Taub ’14

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Earlier this month, Ben Taub ’14 published what for many journalists would be considered a crowning jewel in their careers: a 9,000-word investigation into the European jihadi pipeline that ran as a cover story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker.

In a sense, Taub had already begun working on the piece two years ago, when he first spent a summer on the Turkish-Syrian border in 2013, supported by a grant from Princeton’s Council of the Humanities. He returned to that dusty town of Kilis, Turkey, in the summer of 2014, where he met two middle-aged Belgian fathers.

“One of them, Dimitri Bontinck, was trying to help the other, Pol Van Hessche, plan a trip into parts of Syria controlled by ISIS, to search for Pol’s runaway jihadi son,” Taub wrote in a blog post for the Overseas Press Club of America. “Dimitri had previously undertaken a similar hunt. In early 2013, his own son, Jejoen, a teen-age Muslim convert, traveled to Syria to fight against Assad’s army, expecting to ‘fall martyr within a short time.’ ” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Jay Xu *08, Expanding the Reach of Chinese Contemporary Art

Jay Xu *08 (Courtesy Asian Art Museum)

Jay Xu *08 (Courtesy Asian Art Museum)

When PAW profiled Jay Xu *08, director of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, in 2012, the Ph.D. alumnus spoke about bringing museum visitors into closer contact with emerging Asian artists. “Asia is one of the most dynamic regions right now in terms of opportunities and challenges,” he said, “and this museum will be a wonderful platform for visitors to explore that.”

Xu’s work toward that goal continues with “28 Chinese,” an exhibition of works by 28 contemporary Chinese artists that opened earlier this month. While established stars (Ai Weiwei, Huang Yong Ping) are included, the gallery also aims to introduce a new generation of artists. A review in SFWeekly hailed the “provocative photography, installations, painting, and new media,” and the San Jose Mercury News noted the “undeniable impact” of works in the exhibition, including several by artists who use traditional materials in nontraditional ways.

Earlier this year, Xu was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — one of 16 new members from the arts and humanities. Xu, the first Chinese-American director at a major American art museum, joined the Asian Art Museum in 2008 after chairing the Department of Asian and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Engineer David Billington ’50

In presenting honorary degrees at Commencement, Princeton honors a wide range of notable individuals, from Supreme Court justices to entertainers and athletes. The tradition also allows the University to spotlight exceptional people on campus — a list that in recent years has included former men’s basketball coach Pete Carril and departing Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman.

David Billington ’50, right, with President Eisgruber ’83 at Commencement. (Beverly Schaefer)

David Billington ’50, right, with President Eisgruber ’83 at Commencement. (Beverly Schaefer)

Last week, a few days after his class marked its 65th reunion, longtime engineering professor David Billington ’50 received an honorary Doctor of Science degree for his inspiring work in the classroom and the lab. “[H]e introduced us to the engineering pioneers who revolutionized the world and opened our eyes to the creativity of engineering at its best,” the degree citation read.

Billington, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, taught at the University from 1960 through 2010. Early in his career, he was chosen to teach a class on structures in engineering to graduate students in the architecture school. The architects grew bored by the technical formulas, Billington told PAW’s Kathryn Beaumont ’96 for a 2003 feature, and clamored to “study something beautiful.” They showed him pictures of Swiss engineer Robert Maillart’s thin, concrete bridges sweeping across ravines and through the mountains of the Swiss countryside. “We all have some aesthetic sensitivity and respond to beauty in various forms,” Billington says. “But then I wanted to see if this was good engineering. And I realized that Maillart was the best technical engineer.”

Billington’s teaching celebrated Maillart and others who blended technical expertise and aesthetic beauty. And like a graceful, well-constructed bridge, his work has spanned generations: At his retirement celebration, the professor received a poetic tribute from Randy Evans ’69 and his daughter Annie ’04, two alumni of his courses.

READ MORE: The full degree citation for David Billington, Doctor of Science Continue reading