Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tigers of the Week: Norman Augustine ’57 *59 and Christopher Lu ’88

Norman Augustine ’57 *59, left, and Christopher Lu ’88. (Office of Communications/Mark Czajkowski [Augustine], Denise Applewhite [Lu])

Norman Augustine ’57 *59, left, and Christopher Lu ’88. (Office of Communications/Mark Czajkowski [Augustine], Denise Applewhite [Lu])

Princeton’s newest graduates received their degrees June 3 and will head out into the world with fresh wisdom and advice, thanks to two prominent alumni — Norman Augustine ’57 *59, a retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., who delivered remarks at the Graduate School Hooding Ceremony June 2; and Christopher Lu ’88, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, who spoke to seniors at Baccalaureate June 1.

Augustine encouraged the Ph.D. graduates to stray from their comfort zones and take on challenges in their careers. “Life is not a spectator sport,” he said. “Neither is it a dress rehearsal. The greatest regrets in life are not the opportunities one pursues and fails, but are the opportunities one fails to pursue.”

Lu shared the words of his father, an immigrant from China who, when interviewed for a magazine story about how middle-class families struggle to pay for college tuition, replied, “I’ve told my sons that your education is your inheritance.”

“An inheritance is something that your parents spend a lifetime accumulating,” Lu explained. “It is not something to be squandered. Unlike a gift, there are strings attached to an inheritance. There are responsibilities implied. An inheritance is something you grow and pass on to the next generation.”

Both speakers also emphasized service — in Augustine’s case, highlighting the role of service outside of one’s professional obligations, and in Lu’s case, either as a career path or as an avocation. Lu, with a nod to John F. Kennedy, added that service means “asking … what you can do for your country, and not simply waiting to be asked.”

Tiger of the Week: Award-Winning Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06 at the Obies (Off-Broadway Awards) last week. (Shutterstock/Lev Radin)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06 at the Obies (off-Broadway awards) last week. (Shutterstock/Lev Radin)

For Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06, the last few months have been a whirlwind. The Brooklyn-based playwright has brought two new plays to the stage in New York City — Appropriate, which ran from late February to mid April at the Signature Theatre, and An Octoroon, an exploration of Dion Boucicoult’s 1859 play The Octoroon, which began its ongoing run at the Soho Rep. in late April. Last week, in recognition of both works, Jacobs-Jenkins received the Obie Award for the best new American play; the two productions dominated the off-Broadway honors in the acting and directing categories as well.

“It’s been a very charmed year, without a doubt,” Jacobs-Jenkins told PAW.

Jacobs-Jenkins majored in anthropology at Princeton, acted in campus productions, and delved deeply into creative writing courses. In his junior year, he took a playwriting class, taught by Robert Sandberg ’70, which he said “opened up something for me creatively that I didn’t even know was there.” As a senior, he wrote and staged the play Heart!!!, a creative-thesis production about an African-American boy with a heart problem.

Issues of race figured prominently in Heart!!!, and they also take center stage in Appropriate and An Octoroon. (They are “addendums to my thesis, in some funny way,” he said.) The first features a white family trying to come to grips with its violent, racist ancestors; the second explores slavery in the South. The Village Voice, which featured Jacobs-Jenkins on the cover of its May 21 issue, hailed the playwright’s “ravenous appetite for the hard questions.”

An Octoroon is scheduled to wrap up next month, but Jacobs-Jenkins has plenty of work ahead, including the debut of another new play, War, at Yale Repertory Theatre in the fall. (Classmate and Princeton lecturer Lileana Blain-Cruz ’06 will direct the production.) Next spring, Jacobs-Jenkins is slated to teach a course at Princeton.

Read More: “Pay No Attention to the Man in the Bunny Suit,” a profile of Jacobs-Jenkins from the May 21 Village Voice.

Tigers of the Week: William Bowen *58 and Thomas Kean ’57, Graduation Pinch Hitters

Former Princeton president William Bowen *58 and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean ’57 found themselves in similar positions last weekend, filling in at collegiate commencement ceremonies in place of distinguished speakers who withdrew after student protests. Both alumni made headlines, though for somewhat different reasons.

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William Bowen *58 (David Lubarsky)

Bowen, addressing graduates at Haverford College May 18, criticized the students who fought to keep Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, from speaking at commencement. Birgeneau, who came under fire for his response to student unrest at Berkeley in 2011, chose not to come to Haverford after about 50 students and faculty signed a letter urging him to publicly apologize for his actions. In Bowen’s view, he should have come anyway — and students should have sought “a genuine discussion.”

Bowen cited the example of George Shultz ’42, who received an honorary degree at Princeton in 1973 while he was treasury secretary in the Nixon administration. Some students protested by turning their backs, Bowen said, but in most cases, they were respectful. “Princeton emerged from this mini-controversy more committed than ever to honoring both the right to protest in proper ways and the accomplishments of someone with whose views on some issues many disagreed,” he said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Author Rivka Galchen ’98

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Rivka Galchen ’98 (Ken Goebel)

In Rivka Galchen ’98’s new book of short stories, American Innovations, the narrators are all women — partly in response to the author’s reading habits in younger days. “When I was 25 years old, I looked at my bookshelf and it was all men,” she explained in a recent Los Angeles Times interview. “All of my favorite books were by men and had male narrators.”

Flipping that gender imbalance while at the same time drawing inspiration from “canonical” short stories written by men (including James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph”), Galchen has written a fresh, innovative collection that has earned high marks from reviewers. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: M. David Rudd ’83, the Next President of the University of Memphis

M. David Rudd ’83 (Courtesy University of Memphis)

M. David Rudd ’83 (Courtesy University of Memphis)

Last month in Paris, the annual Princeton-Fung Global Forum focused on the future of higher education around the world. If this year is any indication, it looks like Princeton alumni will have a growing role in shaping that future from positions of leadership: Since Christopher Eisgruber ’83 was installed as the University’s 20th president last fall, at least four other alumni have been selected to lead colleges and universities.

The latest is a classmate of Eisgruber, M. David Rudd ’83, who will move to the president’s office at the University of Memphis, the institution where he has served as provost since March 2013.

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved Rudd’s appointment May 1. In a statement published by the University of Memphis, Rudd said he looked forward to “supporting and serving our students, continuing our excellence in the classroom, expanding vibrant and impactful research, and strengthening our ties to the city of Memphis.” The 102-year-old research university has more than 21,000 students, including about 17,000 undergraduates. Its mascot? The Tiger, of course. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Erik Lukens *95, Pulitzer-Winning Editor

Erik Lukens *95 (Courtesy The Oregonian)

Erik Lukens *95 (Courtesy The Oregonian)

When Erik Lukens *95 was studying in the English department’s Ph.D. program, the Graduate School hosted a career day of sorts, to give students a sense of what opportunities might be available to them outside the academy. After listening to writer and critic Carlin Romano ’76, then at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lukens took an interest in journalism. This month, more than two decades after getting his start as part-time copy editor at The Trentonian, Lukens joined an elite group within the profession, sharing the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing with his colleagues at The Oregonian for their editorials about reforms to their state’s pension system for public employees. Two weeks after the announcement, he told PAW, it still “seems kind of unreal.”

At Princeton, Lukens wrote his dissertation in the daytime and went to Trenton in the evenings, working on the copy desk and occasionally filling in as an editorial writer. Graduate school provided valuable skills in research, analysis, and persuasive writing. The newspaper’s tabloid style also helped to shape his writing. “You learn pretty quickly not to bore people to death,” he said. Continue reading