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)
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
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.
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
Paul Fishman ’78 (U.S. Department of Justice)
PAUL FISHMAN ’78, the United States Attorney for New Jersey, made headlines last week with the announcement of indictments in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal. According to The New York Times, Fishman said that aides to Gov. Chris Christie and a Christie-appointed Port Authority official “callously victimized” citizens of Fort Lee, N.J., exacting political retribution on the town’s mayor by closing lanes near the bridge and creating traffic jams for four days in September 2013.
For JULIA BLOUNT ’12, what began as a post to Facebook friends became a widely circulated essay on race relations in America in the wake of unrest in Baltimore. Blount’s post, “Dear white Facebook friends: I need you to respect what Black America is feeling right now,” was adapted into a story for Salon.com and to date has been shared by more than 800,000 people.
ALAN LUKENS ’46, who as a young U.S. soldier helped to free victims of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, returned to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation. Lukens, who later joined the U.S. Foreign Service and became an American ambassador, spoke at a May 3 gathering of survivors and public officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It was a terrible shock to see how much you, the survivors, had suffered,” Lukens said, “from starvation, disease, brutality, and freezing conditions — and to learn that 31,000 had died here earlier.” He wrote about that experience in a 2010 essay for PAW.
Danielle Allen ’93 (Laura Rose)
Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, by DANIELLE ALLEN ’93, has been named a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. Our Declaration is a line-by-line commentary on the Declaration of Independence and an analysis of its contents. The ultimate winner of the award, which is available for nonfiction books of “notable literary merit and critical perspective” published in 2013 or 2014, will receive a prize of $10,000.
In a podcast for the scientific journal Nature, astrophysics professor NETA BAHCALL speaks to Kerri Smith about having her and her husband John Bahcall’s wedding rings travel to the Hubble Space Telescope. John Bahcall, who played a major role in the launch and maintenance of the Hubble, died in 2005. In 2009, astronaut John Grunsfeld traveled to Hubble for its final servicing mission, and he brought with him the couple’s rings as a way of honoring John Bahcall’s important contributions to the Hubble project. Continue reading
By Sandy Thatcher ’65 *67
On April 21 some 200 members of the Princeton Club of Dallas/Fort Worth turned out for a chance to meet with President Eisgruber ’83 at an event sponsored by the Office of Alumni Affairs.
Former Princeton trustee Terdema Ussery II ’81, president and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, served as interlocutor for the interview that got the discussion under way. Eisgruber also fielded questions from the audience. While many serious issues were brought to the fore during the hour-long session, it was frequently punctuated by lighthearted humor.
Ussery began by asking the president about his background and experiences growing up as the son of immigrant parents in Indiana and Oregon. In particular, this part of the dialogue explored what in his past led Eisgruber to have the views he does about religious freedom as an essential element of the Constitutional framework. The president revealed that his mother, who had fled Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, suppressed her Jewish roots after converting to Catholicism, and it was only much later, when he got involved with his son in an elementary school project investigating his family’s history, that he discovered that his mother had been categorized at Ellis Island as Hebrew.
Having rebelled as a youth against his religious upbringing, the President acknowledged that this became an important revelation for him and led to his eventually coming to identify as a secular Jew, very interested in the Jewish tradition that he only came to appreciate later in life. It further fueled his lifelong interest in religious freedom, which was the subject of one of his books, Religious Freedom and the Constitution (2007). Continue reading