Category Archives: Alumni News

Williams ’84 to Become Dean of Harvard’s Public Health School

Michelle Williams ’84 will be taking post as the new dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in July, the school announced Feb. 19. Williams, who obtained her undergraduate degree in biology from Princeton, is an esteemed epidemiologist best known for her research on infant and maternal health. She will move into this new position from her current roles within the Chan School as a professor and the epidemiology department chair.

Williams’ appointment does not come as a surprise given her distinguished role within her field as both a researcher and educator. Additionally, following calls for increased diversity at Harvard, many are celebrating the impact her selection will have on the diversity of the faculty. Williams is the first black dean of a Harvard faculty and the first woman to lead the Chan School.

The appointee has expressed her excitement about taking on this new role and the opportunities to come. In a message to the Chan School community, she said she looks forward to “this tremendous opportunity to advance our collective commitment to understanding and confronting public health challenges worldwide.”

Names in the News: Kagan ’81 on Writing, Massey *78 on Immigration, and More

When Supreme Court Justice ELENA KAGAN ’81 drafts opinions, she writes “so that a non-lawyer can understand it,” according to a recent interview published in The National Law Journal. Kagan, a former dean of Harvard Law School, also said that law schools need to do more to help their students become better writers.

How did CHARLIE STILLITANO ’81 become the best-connected American in European soccer? Close friendships with the likes of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson have played a big role. “You earn trust by your behavior with people,” Ferguson tells Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl ’96. “I’ve got a million Charlie stories. He invites you over for dinner when he’s at home, and it’s a long day of humor, fun and good food.”

The Bitcoin Foundation’s former chief scientist, GAVIN ANDRESEN ’88, told MIT Technology Review that the crypto-currency is in urgent need of changes to help it process more transactions. Otherwise, he said, the $3.3 billion system may become “congested and unreliable.” Earlier this month, Princeton launched an online course about Bitcoin on Coursera.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s view of illegal immigration is at odds with the statistical trends, which show the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico in sharp decline, Princeton sociology professor DOUGLAS MASSEY *78 told The New York Times. Massey’s research was featured in PAW in 2012.

Names in the News: Full ’15’s Clever Design, Cabral ’12 Runs at World Championships, and More

030613coverEDEN FULL ’15, the engineer, entrepreneur, and Thiel Fellow featured in PAW’s March 6, 2103, cover story, has continued to pursue innovative solutions to generating power and providing clean water for communities in developing countries. Design News called the latest version of Full’s SunSaluter “a clever idea to address these two problems simultaneously.”

TerraCycle, the Trenton, N.J., waste recycling start-up that TOM SZAKY ’05 founded as a Princeton freshman, is the focus of an ongoing reality TV series, Human Resources. Szaky, who dropped out of college to build the company, told The New York Times that he hopes “to show that doing good can also create revenue and phenomenal value.”

Congressional candidate LINDY LI ’12 faces an uphill battle as she tries to unseat three-term incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan in Pennsylvania’s 7th district in 2016. But according to a recent Washington Post profile, Li has a stubborn confidence and the “special brand of optimism” of the millennial generation. If elected, she would be the youngest woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Track star DONN CABRAL ’12 finished 10th in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing Aug. 24. Kenya dominated the race, capturing the three medal positions and the fourth-place slot as well. Cabral, one of three Americans in the top 10, told Runner’s World that he was not happy with his race. “This is probably the least I’ve managed to show up when it counts,” he said. “That said, I’m not going to bang my head about it for too long. I think I had a great season.”

Gen. MARK A. MILLEY ’80 was sworn in as the U.S. Army’s 39th chief of staff Aug. 14. In his first official remarks, he spoke about the nation’s preparedness for conflicts of many kinds. “As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent,” Milley said, according to The Washington Post. “We have to be able to fight guerrillas and terrorists all the way up through nation-state militaries. If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong in the air, on the sea and yes, on the ground, then we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom.”

Service Abroad: O’Connell ’14 Volunteers in Ukraine

During Princeton’s graduation events last year, Mark O’Connell ’14 noticed a common theme delivered by the speakers: the importance of giving back, with the corollary idea that service “can take many shapes and forms.”

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Earlier this month, O’Connell found his service niche in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, where he and a group of friends volunteered at three local hospitals. The recent college grads rewrapped bedsores, shadowed surgeons, and assisted injured veterans.

O’Connell, who is half Ukrainian, grew up in Connecticut and studied Ukranian history, culture, and grammar at weekend classes in New York City. He majored in sociology at Princeton and began working at a tech startup in January. But he also has an interest in health care and public health, which made the volunteer trip an ideal opportunity.

The last year and half has been particularly difficult for the people of Ukraine, and though Lviv is geographically removed from the country’s conflict with Russian separatists, the fighting remains on the minds of its residents. “The entire country is under duress — politically, economically, and socially,” O’Connell said. Continue reading

Names in the News: Berlin ’07 on Lunch Ladies and Admissions; Berlind ’52’s Tony Winners; More

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Can a high-school lunch lady help you get into Princeton? Maybe, LEV BERLIN ’07 wrote in an essay for Time.com — or maybe not. It’s not clear whether a phone call from his lunch lady to a prominent alumnus helped his application, but in any case, Berlin advises, “Be nice to your lunch ladies, people.”

Broadway producer ROGER BERLIND ’52’s string of hits continues. Berlind co-produced two of the 2015 Tony Award winners: Best Play honoree The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Skylight, which won in the Best Revival of a Play category.

Author and professor RUTH BEHAR *83 has joined with poet and fellow Cuban-American Richard Blanco to launch a new writing project called “Bridges to/from Cuba,” which aims to give Cubans a forum for sharing their hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. Behar, who moved from Cuba to New York City at age 5, is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Merrell Noden ’78

We are heartbroken to report the death from cancer May 31 of our colleague and friend, Merrell Noden ’78, a longtime PAW contributor. For about two decades, Merrell wrote the stories of some of Princeton’s most captivating people and programs, always with eloquence and heart.

Merrell Noden ’78 (Frank Wojciechowski)

Merrell Noden ’78 (Frank Wojciechowski)

You could tell a lot about Merrell from his articles. He was as curious as they come, happily taking on any topic we could throw at him — from word puzzles to Vietnam to mathematics geniuses. He loved running and literature and brought them together, once writing a piece for Sports Illustrated about Charles Dickens’ obsession with race-walking. He was full of good will, gratitude, and wonder, peppering his drafts with exclamation points that sometimes were deleted during editing, lest all that enthusiasm boil over.

About Professor Simon Morrison *97’s research on the composer Sergei Prokofiev, Merrell wrote: “Lucky Prokofiev! Few geniuses have had the good fortune to be served by someone as diligent and honest as Morrison.” In another piece, Merrell recalled the famous math-department teas: “What teas those must have been! It wasn’t just professors and grad students who came, but undergrads, visiting fellows, and brainiacs from the Institute.” He wrote about the digitization of books, noting that some people were questioning why we needed a bricks-and-mortar library at all. Merrell needed two exclamation points to comment on that prospect. “Aaaaarrhh!!” he wrote. “If, like me, you recall the libraries of your childhood as magical places, this comes close to sacrilege. Those libraries were warm and safe; you could spend entire afternoons opening books onto worlds you never knew existed, with the only threat being the sharp tongues of zealous librarians.”

As I re-read his emails and stories to write this note, I kept smiling.

Over the last few years, as Merrell endured the energy-sapping ups and downs of cancer treatment and it became harder for him to get around, he continued to take on PAW articles, saying they helped him feel connected to the campus and people he cared about. He submitted two pieces, well done as always, for our June 3 issue, then followed up with a warm note about the interesting assignments. His wife, Eva Mantell, said later that Merrell was quite ill when he was working on the last piece but cared deeply about completing it.

There is no number of exclamation points that can capture how much Merrell will be missed.

READ MORE: A selection of Merrell’s stories for PAW Continue reading

Names in the News: Taub ’14 Explores ISIS Recruiting; Gowin Exhibit at The Morgan

BEN TAUB ’14 wrote “Journey to Jihad,” the lead story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker on European teenagers who join ISIS. Taub used money he received as a contestant on The Voice to fund reporting trips to the Turkish-Syrian border, he said in an MSNBC interview.

Influential photographer and emeritus professor EMMET GOWIN’s work is featured in a new exhibit, “Hidden Likeness,” at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City through Sept. 20. Peggy Fogelman, the Morgan’s acting director, said that Gowin’s art has “creative and often surprising linkages with Morgan objects of widely different eras and artistic disciplines.” Continue reading

Essay: Making a Comeback

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Amir Parsa ’90 is associate professor and director of academic transdisciplinary initiatives at Pratt Institute. (Photo: Janett Parra)

Amir Parsa ’90 is associate professor and director of academic transdisciplinary initiatives at Pratt Institute.
(Photo: Janett Parra)

By Amir Parsa ’90

My 24th reunion turned out to be my first. I had not planned it so. Not senior year. Not after missing the first, the fifth, or even the 10th. As the years went by, though, a weekend at Reunions began to take on all the weight I’ve come to associate with all sorts of “returns.”

Ever since I can remember, the concept of The Return (capital T and R) has been central to my existence. I emigrated from Iran around the time of the 1979 Revolution, and at gatherings with other Iranians those first years, most conversations focused on returning. All along, the expatriates and the new exiles would profess: “Things will change, and we’ll go back.” That was the anthem. This glorious return, though, was endlessly delayed. Two months turned into two years, then 20. New lives. Settling in the suburbs of America. Children. Grandchildren, even.

What was deeply taking root in me, too, I realized, was the feeling that any return became saddled with anxiety and excessive philosophizing. Any return prompted extensive deliberation and soul-searching. Princeton Reunions would not be spared. Continue reading

The Princetoniana Committee: Keepers of Traditions Old and New

ptoniana-jacketsIf you’ve ever noticed the quotations rendered in large block letters on the walls of Frist Campus Center, watched a freshman Pre-rade and Step Sing, or viewed the Reunion and beer jacket exhibits in Maclean House, then you’ve experienced the handiwork of the Princetoniana Committee.

“The Princetoniana Committee is focused around the history and traditions of Princeton, familiarizing people with those and constructing traditions as they go along,” said former committee chair Gregg Lange ’70. “One reason we do that … is to give people a sense of belonging, a sense of import, and a sense of context to what they’re doing and why.”

More than archivists, members of the Princetoniana Committee are actively contributing to the University’s traditions. Just 11 years ago, the committee inaugurated the Pre-rade as a way to welcome freshmen to the Princeton community. A few years later, the committee added a Step Sing on the steps of Blair Arch after the Pre-rade as a way to ensure that freshmen knew the words to “Old Nassau.”

According to current chair Sev Onyshkevych ’83, the Princetoniana Committee was founded in 1981 after the death of Frederic Fox ’39, who was the University’s recording secretary for 17 years and earned the title “Keeper of Princetoniana.” Fox’s classmate Hugh (“Bud”) Wynne established the committee under the Alumni Council as a way to continue Fox’s work in preserving Princeton traditions.

“What one person did, we now have a committee of 40 doing,” Onyshkevych said. Continue reading

Names in the News: Advice for Grads from Schmidt ’76, Obama ’85, Kopp ’89, and More

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)

Eric Schmidt ’76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)

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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

Without the Wa: Muller ’05 Sings a Nostalgic Tribute

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.

Names in the News: Milley ’80 Tabbed for Army’s Top Post, Felten Returning to D.C., and More

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

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

Names in the News: Fishman ’78 Releases Bridge Scandal Indictments; Blount ’12 Writes About Race

Paul Fishman ’78 (U.S. Department of Justice)

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.

Names in the News: Allen ’93 Nominated for PEN Award; Scheide ’36, McPhee ’53 on N.J. Hall of Fame Ballot; More

Danielle Allen ’93 (Laura Rose)

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

Eisgruber ’83 Discusses Princeton’s Present and Future in Visit to Dallas

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

Names in the News: Wage ’12 on Altruism, Crossword Champ Feyer ’99, and More

MATT WAGE ’12 was featured in Nicholas Kristof’s opinion column in The New York Times as the titular “Trader Who Donates Half His Pay.” Wage, who was a philosophy major at Princeton and a student of moral philosopher Peter Singer, is now an arbitrage trader who donates half his income to charity. Wage’s efforts are an example of “effective altruism,” a movement championed by Singer that encourages people to consider all the ways they can make a positive difference and choose the one with maximum impact.

Emeritus professor TONI MORRISON is the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile that starts in the century-old barn that is now the studio where Morrison recorded the audiobooks for her latest novel, God Help the Child, and delves into her life and vision as an editor and writer.

At the 38th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, DAN FEYER ’99 took first place after beating his opponent and fellow crossword champion Tyler Hinman by a half-second. Both Feyer and Hinman had previously won five consecutive titles at the tournament, which was founded in 1978 by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz.  Continue reading

Names in the News: Cruz ’92 Announces Presidential Run, Author Lee Discusses His Work, and More

Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 (U.S. Senate portrait)

Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 (U.S. Senate portrait)

Shortly after midnight on Monday, Texas senator TED CRUZ ’92 announced on Twitter that he is running for president in 2016. He delivered a formal speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. on Monday and is the first candidate to officially enter the race. In an op-ed for CNN, professor of history and public affairs JULIAN ZELIZER analyzed Cruz’s chances by comparing his campaign to that of Barry Goldwater, the Republican senator from Arizona who ran against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Johnson became president after defeating Goldwater, whose extremism “scared off” voters in solidly Republican states and helped Johnson win a landslide victory. MARC FISHER ’80 of The Washington Post also wrote about Cruz in a feature story that includes a look at the candidate’s Princeton years.

Creative writing professor CHANG-RAE LEE spoke at the annual Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, where he discussed his latest novel, On Such a Full Sea, with Edward Wong of the New York Times’ Sinosphere Blog. Lee answers questions about the dystopian nature of the novel, which is set in a future where Baltimore has become B-Mor, a city of transplanted Chinese laborers; his research trip to a factory in Shenzhen, China; and the roles that environmental issues and immigration play in his narrative. Continue reading

Names in the News: Hart ’69 *71 To Lead NTSB, Jarecki ’85 Series Leads to Durst Arrest, and More

Christopher Hart ’69 *71 (NTSB)

Christopher Hart ’69 *71 (NTSB)

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved CHRISTOPHER HART ’69 *71 as the new chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) March 12. Hart, a lawyer whose past work includes stints at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, joined the NTSB in 2009 and has been serving in its top job on an interim basis since April 2014.

Filmmaker ANDREW JARECKI ’85’s latest project, the HBO series The Jinx, made headlines when the documentary’s subject, murder suspect Robert Durst, was arrested on Saturday. Durst apparently confessed to three murders while speaking to himself on microphone during a bathroom break in one of Jarecki’s interview sessions. In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Jarecki recalled the first time that he and his partners listened to the audio, saying it “was so chilling to hear it.” Continue reading

Names in the News: Sewell ’86 on Selma Today, Touring China with Hessler ’92, and More

Rep. Terri Sewell ’86, third from right, took part in the March 7 Selma commemoration with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Rep. Terri Sewell ’86, third from right, took part in the March 7 Selma commemoration with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In a piece for the Washington Post, style writer Krissah Thompson followed Rep. TERRI SEWELL ’86, D-Ala., to her hometown of Selma. Sewell and her family and friends reflected on the city’s historic significance and the way Selma has faltered in the years since Sewell graduated as a debate champion from the city’s fully integrated public high school — now effectively resegregated and without the celebrated debate team. “We need to live Selma and know that the assaults of the past are here again,” Sewell said during an address delivered at Selma’s Brown Chapel A.M.E. “Old battles are here again.”

Author PETER HESSLER ’92 wrote in The New Yorker about his experience traveling on a publicity tour in Beijing with the Chinese censor of his books. The story goes on to consider more broadly his experience as an American author writing about China, and the role of his Chinese translators — whose censorship, he says, is a sort of “defensive” censorship intended to circumvent entirely any negative attention from officials. Of recent articles that are critical of American writers who accept manuscript changes so that they can publish in China, Hessler writes, “The articles tend to take a narrowly Western perspective. … This was one reason I went on the tour — I figured that the best way to understand censorship is to spend a week with your censor.”

For 15 years, Sepp Blatter has been president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. Now, as FIFA’s reputation continues to spiral downward, Blatter faces a number of potential challengers in the next election. One of them is Prince ALI BIN AL HUSSEIN ’99 of Jordan. In an interview with The New York Times, Prince Ali called for more transparency, more collaborative decision-making, and more financial accountability to FIFA’s member nations. Continue reading

Names in the News: Smith To Head Swarthmore, Singer ’97 on the Rise of Robots, and More

Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)

Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)

Dean of the College VALERIE SMITH was named the 15th president of Swarthmore College on Feb. 21. She will be Swarthmore’s first African American president, as well as its second female president. At Princeton, Smith was also the founding director of the Center for American Studies and is currently the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and a professor of English and African American Studies. She will begin her duties at Swarthmore on July 1. In a Philadephia Inquirer interview, Gil Kemp, chair of Swarthmore’s board of trustees, said of Smith, “I think this is a marvelous fit … Her awareness of our distinctive competence, focus on academic rigor, commitment to the common good — it’s a marvelous confluence.”

In an op-ed for CNN.com, New America Foundation Strategist and Senior Fellow PETER W. SINGER ’97 writes about the rise of the robot in modern warfare. As robots become increasingly more automated, he explains, debates over their place in battle have become more complicated. He concludes, however, that “one thing is clear: Like the present, the future of war will be robotic.”

Former Tennessee senator BILL FRIST ’74 and former Georgia representative JIM MARSHALL ’72 penned a Washington Post op-ed about their suggested reforms to the Veterans Health Administration. Their piece coincided with the release of a report by the Fixing Veterans Health Care task force, of which Frist and Marshall are co-chairs. Continue reading

Names in the News: Princeton’s Oscar Ties, the Scheide Collection, and More

Kip Thorne *65 (Courtesy Keenan Pepper, via Wikipedia)

Kip Thorne *65 (Courtesy Keenan Pepper, via Wikipedia)

At the Academy Awards ceremony, Interstellar visual effects supervisor Andrew Lockley, who accepted the Oscar for visual effects, praised alumnus KIP THORNE *65 as “one of the smartest people on Earth.” Thorne, a physicist at Caltech, served as the scientific consultant (and an executive producer) for the film, which was featured in the inaugural PAW Goes to the Movies column. Thorne’s involvement with the film began eight years ago, when he and producer Lynda Obst started working on a treatment in which “all the wild speculation would spring from science, not just the fertile mind of a screenwriter,” according to Deadline.com.

Oscar Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game highlights ALAN TURING *38 and his contributions as a World War II codebreaker. But Freeman Dyson tells Joel Achenbach ’82 of The Washington Post that the film overlooks Turing’s greatest contribution: “He invented the idea of software, essentially.”

Last week, Princeton received an extraordinary collection of rare books and manuscripts from the late WILLAM H. SCHEIDE ’36, who died in November 2014. Valued at nearly $300 million, the collection includes a Gutenberg Bible, an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, and notable musical manuscripts by Bach and Beethoven. The New York Times article about the gift cited a 2009 PAW story in which Scheide talked about smelling his books as “one way of getting acquainted.”

Former Massachusetts state treasurer STEVE GROSSMAN ’67 and Harvard Business School professor MICHAEL PORTER ’69 are teaming up at a nonprofit that aims to address income inequality by helping urban businesses grow, The Boston Globe reports. Grossman said he decided to take the new job at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City because “this is where you can change people’s lives.”

Indie Nation’s Service: Princeton at Sundance

Director Mora Stephens ’98 on the set of her new film, Zipper. (Hilary Bronwyn Gayle)

Director Mora Stephens ’98 on the set of her new film, Zipper. (Hilary Bronwyn Gayle)

By Giri Nathan ’13

The stereotype of alumni networking at Princeton is that it nurtures connections in fields like law, finance, and government. Independent film might sound like an unlikely addition to that list. But this month, three artists with Princeton ties will make their way to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, one of the industry’s marquee events. Jackson Greenberg ’12, Scott Salinas ’97, and Mora Stephens ’98 all worked on films that will premiere at the festival.

Salinas and Greenberg composed the score of the documentary Cartel Land, continuing a partnership that has its origins in the pages of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. As a freshman, Greenberg found himself in love with music and unsure of his summer plans. After stumbling upon a PAW profile of Salinas, a film composer in Los Angeles, he reached out on a whim and asked for an internship. Despite never having hired an intern before, Salinas took him in, and over the years, their intern-employer relationship evolved into one of collaboration and friendship. Continue reading

Graziano ’89 *96 To Open Hatcher Lecture Series at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Princeton psychology professor Michael Graziano ’89 *96 will deliver the opening talk in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday Lecture Series Jan. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Graziano will focus on “Consciousness and the Social Brain,” a topic covered in PAW’s April 23, 2014, profile of the alumnus and professor. Future speakers in this year’s series include Professor Emily Carter, director of Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and Professor Paul Steinhardt, director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. For more information, visit pppl.gov/education.

The Science on Saturday program was renamed this year to honor Hatcher, its beloved longtime host, who died in March.

PAW’s Most-Viewed Stories of 2014

As the end of 2014 draws near, The Weekly Blog shines the spotlight on reader favorites. This year, PAW’s five most-viewed online stories were all cover stories from the magazine.

cover-201410081. The Rules

(Published in the Oct. 8 issue)

Lawrence Otis Graham ’83 thought his Ivy League education and status would insulate his family from racism. He was wrong.
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Cover-201404232. The People Who Saw Evolution

(Published in the April 23 issue)

After 40 years of research on Darwin’s finches, Peter and Rosemary Grant have written their valediction.
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Books by Fishman ’01, Galchen ’98, Goffman *10, and Sharma ’92 Featured Among New York Times Notables

Three books by Princeton alumni were featured in The New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of 2014: A Replacement Life, by Boris Fishman ’01; American Innovations, by Rivka Galchen ’98; On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, by Alice Goffman *10; and Family Life, by Akhil Sharma ’92. Emeritus professor James McPherson also made the list with his biography of Jefferson Davis, Embattled Rebel.  Times Book Review editors also named Sharma’s novel as one of the year’s 10 best.

PRINCE-RRjacketRead more about the authors in the PAW Archives:

Boris Fishman ’01: Immigrant Experiences Inspire a Debut Novel

Fishman, who was born in the former Soviet Union and came to the United States at age 9, told PAW contributor Maria LoBiondo that the immigrant experience has played a key role in his writing. “Outwardly I’m very American, but inwardly I’m Russian,” he said. “The conflict is very rich for writing. Honey for art, but vinegar for life.”

Tiger of the Week: Author Rivka Galchen ’98

goffman-coverGalchen’s fresh, innovative short-story collection earned high marks from reviewers.

Life on the Run

Goffman, a rising star in sociology, chronicled the human costs of America’s penal system after spending her 20s immersed in fieldwork with wanted young men.

Tiger of the Week: Novelist Akhil Sharma ’92

Sharma’s semi-autobiographical second novel was the result of a sometimes painful writing process that took nearly a decade. He wrote about the experience in a personal essay for The New York Times.

For the record: This post has been updated to include Akhil Sharma ’92’s novel Family Life.

Hundreds of Bostonians Welcome Eisgruber ’83 at Town-Hall Meeting

By Kathryn Beaumont ’96

More than 700 people braved driving wind and rain Nov. 17 and packed into the ballroom at the historic Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston to welcome President Eisgruber ’83 on the 16th stop of his “welcome tour” since becoming Princeton’s 20th president in 2013.

Following a lively cocktail hour, alums settled in for a discussion moderated by Princeton trustee Brent Henry ’69. After getting Eisgruber to admit that students have been known to chant, “Ice Ice, Gruber!” in his presence, Henry’s questions touched upon Eisgruber’s arrival on the faculty at Princeton, his decision to accept the Princeton presidency after turning down several other such offers, his plans for the future, and the state of Princeton admissions.

Eisgruber, who was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, said his own passion for constitutional law was ignited at Princeton in Professor Walter Murphy’s constitutional-law class. After teaching at NYU for more than a decade, Eisgruber jumped at the chance to teach law and public affairs on the undergraduate level. After all, because Princeton had no law school, “I thought I had insulated my career from academic administration,” he laughed. Eisgruber said he could not imagine becoming a university president except at a place where you “can feel the music of the place and sing the songs of the place.” Continue reading

Election 2014: Results for Princeton Alumni Candidates

Wikipedia

Ken Buck ’81 (Wikipedia)

The GOP dominated the midterm election results, which was good news for at least one Princetonian: Republican Ken Buck ’81, the district attorney for Colorado’s Weld County, will head to Washington, D.C., as a freshman representative from the state’s 4th district, the Denver Post reported. Buck ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 and lost narrowly in the statewide election, but voters in his home district backed him this fall with more than 65 percent of votes cast in his favor.

Greg Orman ’91 (Courtesy Orman for U.S. Congress)

Greg Orman ’91 (Courtesy Orman for U.S. Congress)

Other alumni challengers did not fare as well. Greg Orman ’91, running for Senate as an independent in Kansas, lost in a tight race to incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Orman gave Roberts “the strongest challenge of his three-decade congressional career,” according to The Wichita Eagle.

Republican Nan Hayworth ’81, a former congresswoman attempting to regain her seat in New York’s Hudson Valley, trailed incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney — but as of Wednesday morning, she had not yet conceded, according to The Journal News. (Update: Hayworth did concede Wednesday afternoon.) Paul Clements *92 *96, D-Mich., won 40 percent of the vote in his state’s 6th district but could not unseat Republican Rep. Fred Upton. Republican Peter Theron ’78 won 31 percent of the vote in Wisconsin’s 2nd district and fell to incumbent Democrat Rep. Mark Pocan. Continue reading

Election 2014: Princetonians Vie for Seats in Congress

Election day is one week away, and several alumni are on the campaign trail as candidates for office, including 10 who are running for seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.

Sen. Jeff Merkley *82, D-Ore., made headlines this week as the first U.S. Senator to support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, in a Talking Points Memo interview (the issue will be on the ballot as a statewide referendum). Princeton’s other Senate candidate, Kansas independent Greg Orman ’91, continues to attract national attention and local endorsements, including a nod from The Kansas City Star.

Two Princetonians are vying for Congressional seats in Colorado: incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Polis ’96, who represents the second district, and Ken Buck ’81, the district attorney for Weld County and the Republican candidate in the fourth district. Both sat down for election forums with moderator Aaron Harber ’75 earlier this month.

Former Rep. Nan Hayworth ’81, a New York Republican, is trying to recapture the Hudson County seat that she lost to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., in 2012, and the race is tightening, according to polls cited by CBS New York. D. Peter Theron ’78, a Wisconsin Republican, is making his second run for Congress — and his first since 2008. Continue reading

Eisgruber Discusses Sexual-Assault Policies, Grading at Alumni Town-Hall Meeting in Philadelphia

By Art Carey ’72

More than 500 alumni and friends of Princeton attended a town-hall meeting with President Eisgruber ’83 Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. It was, organizers said, the largest gathering ever of Princeton alumni, family, and guests in the City of Brotherly Love.

There was, of course, the usual profusion of orange and black as well as distinguished-looking “locks of gray.” But the gathering, hosted by the Princeton Club of Philadelphia, also included many young representatives of the “new Princeton,” whose presence symbolized the University’s commitment to diversity.

Eisgruber, in his second year as president, fielded questions from classmate Mark Bernstein ’83, senior writer of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, about a variety of hot-button topics — grades, sexual misconduct policies, admissions, socioeconomic diversity, the possibility of expanding the size of the freshman class to make “the gift” of a Princeton education available to more, and whether Ivy League students are “excellent sheep.” Continue reading

Solomon ’14 Revisits Thesis About Comedy and Mental Illness in the Wake of Williams’ Death

Amy Solomon ’14 (Courtesy Amy Solomon)

Amy Solomon ’14 (Courtesy Amy Solomon)

Earlier this year, Amy Solomon ’14 wrote a senior thesis that explored the “sad-clown” stereotype that permeates the world of comedy — the idea that humor and mental illness often are two sides of the same coin. Her research, which included interviews with more than 30 working comedians, landed her a spot on the Aug. 8 episode of The Gist, a Slate podcast hosted by Mike Pesca. A few days later, reporters were calling Solomon for her thoughts about the death of one of her comedy idols, Robin Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11.

The experience was both “really weird” and somewhat uncomfortable for Solomon. “It’s a difficult topic to talk about in definitive terms, because everyone wants to know — in a sound byte — ‘Is the connection between mental illness and comedic genius true?’ ” she told PAW. “I think there’s a lot of nuance, and in my thesis, I got to explore that.”

For example, when she asked comedians if they thought the link between depression and humor was real, they gave a resounding “yes.” But many doubted that the rate of depression or mental illness was greater among comics than it would be for, say, plumbers. Comedians, they told her, “are just the people who are allowed to talk about it and who have that platform.” Continue reading