During intersession last week, President Eisgruber ’83 traveled west to speak at alumni forums in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Alumni journalists covered two of the three events for PAW and filed these brief reports.
San Francisco, Jan. 29
The ballroom of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel was overflowing with orange and black on Wednesday. Some 1,300 alumni, spouses, and parents turned out to hear President Eisgruber ’83 in conversation with bestselling author Michael Lewis ’82.
“In the spirit of Princeton precepts, I’d like to wing it here,” Lewis began, amid laughter from the audience. What followed was a relaxed but thoughtful conversation between the former classmates, on topics ranging from Princeton’s responsibilities toward its students and the world at large to how the Indiana-born Eisgruber ended up as a Princeton student. (He didn’t get into Stanford, his first choice, “which turned out to be the best thing that happened to me,” he insisted, to which Lewis retorted, “Get used to saying that.”)
As a dedicated academic and legal scholar who was taken by surprise by the invitation to become provost in 2004, Eisgruber now sees this as part of the University’s strength, being a place that “has filled its administration with people who care deeply about teaching. At Princeton, we look for teachers and scholars to put into these roles.”
Speaking about the tremendous effect that universities can have in increasing levels of economic and social mobility during this time of great inequality, and considering the broad implications of Princeton in the nation’s service, Eisgruber noted, “One of the things I think about as I interact with our extraordinary students is that we’re investing a tremendous amount in that human capital. We have to get all our students thinking thoughtfully about how they’re going use this Princeton education, and live a meaningful life connected to a larger purpose.”
“I think we did something very good when we expanded the student body over the last decade,” he continued. “I think we would do better if we took more students, and we can do that, in my opinion, while maintaining all the characteristics that have made Princeton so special.”
When Lewis asked him if current students look at him the same way that he and Eisgruber looked at President Bill Bowen *58, Eisgruber seemed caught slightly off guard.
“Wow,” Eisgruber said, after a pause. “Yes. And that’s so surprising to me. But a great joy of the job is that the students seem to find it very easy to talk to me, easier than they would when I was a faculty member. I’m the face of the institution. There are times when they want to say something to Princeton, and if they want to say something to Princeton, they want to say something to me.” — By Stephanie Rosenbaum ’90
Los Angeles, Jan. 30
Online courses, growing the student body, and the Lewis Center for the Arts were among the topics President Eisgruber ’83 addressed in a conversation with writer A. Scott Berg ’71 in front of several hundred Princeton alumni at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Thursday night.