Author Archives: Brett Tomlinson

Tiger of the Week: Tom Finkelpearl ’79, New York’s New Cultural Affairs Commissioner

For the last 12 years, Tom Finkelpearl ’79 has been an advocate for arts outreach in Queens as president and executive director of the Queens Museum. This month, he received the opportunity to expand his reach to all five boroughs as New York City’s commissioner of cultural affairs, an appointment announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 7.

Finkelpearl’s work at the Queens Museum was a major factor in de Blasio’s choice. “When you’re making a choice on someone to lead an agency, you need vision and you need the ability to follow through in action,” he said at a news conference. “And Tom Finkelpearl proved to me that he knew how to do both.”

Finkelpearl, in remarks at the same event, noted that while New York City profits economically as a magnet for those who appreciate art and culture, the arts also have social value for the city’s communities. “And I think that this is an argument that hasn’t been well made by the city,” he said. “But if you look again, what happens on the community level with artists in all the neighborhoods of New York City, there’s something extremely valuable, moving, that’s good for communities. And I intend to try to understand how we can best express that value.”

WATCH the full news conference below, courtesy of the New York City Mayor’s Office.

Marcoux ’91 Chosen as Next Athletic Director

Mollie Marcoux ’91, a sports and recreation executive and former two-sport athlete at Princeton, was introduced as the University’s next athletic director in a press conference at Jadwin Gym April 15. Marcoux, who will take the helm as the Ford Family Director of Athletics in August, will be the first woman to lead the department, which includes 38 men’s and women’s varsity teams.

President Eisgruber ’83 made the announcement, hailing Marcoux’s 19 years of experience at Chelsea Piers Management in New York and Connecticut; her time as a coach and administrator at the Lawrenceville School; and her contributions as a student-athlete at Princeton, where she excelled in ice hockey and soccer and graduated cum laude from the history department.

“She is an ideal leader for our athletics program,” Eisgruber said. “She understands, because she has lived it, the commitment that Princeton makes to ensure that the term scholar-athlete bears equal weight on both sides of the hyphen.” Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: A Chilly Thesis Plunge


With afternoon temperatures in the 40s, the Class of 2009’s Woodrow Wilson School majors kept their splashing to a minimum after jumping into the Fountain of Freedom to celebrate turning in their senior theses on April 7 that year. Julia Osellame ’09 captured this photo for The Weekly Blog.

For our alumni readers: How did you celebrate finishing your thesis? And what advice would you give to members of the Class of 2014 as they count down their last two months on campus? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Tiger of the Week: Novelist Akhil Sharma ’92

Akhil Sharma ’92 (Bill Miller)

Akhil Sharma ’92 (Bill Miller)

Akhil Sharma ’92’s new novel, Family Life, earned front-page billing in this week’s New York Times Book Review — a notable distinction for an author whose only previous novel was published more than a decade ago. Reviewer Sonali Deraniyagala’s generous praise for the “riveting” and “brilliant” semi-autobiographical story stood in stark contrast to Sharma’s experience writing it, which he described in an essay, also published in the Sunday Times:

“Seven years into writing a novel, I started to lose my mind. … I would sit at my desk at 2 in the morning, unable to sleep, and drink pot after pot of tea and try to write. The panic attacks came then. I would be staring at the screen, examining a paragraph that I had already rewritten 170 times. Suddenly the screen would start to ripple, as if I were peering through water, and I would feel a pain like a punch in the chest. Months passed this way. My chest felt constantly bruised.”

Sharma went on to explain how a cathartic ride with a friend helped to change his outlook and enable him to eventually finish the novel, which deals with a family tragedy similar to the one that he endured when his brother was paralyzed after diving into a swimming pool as a teenager.

While the specific events in the novel are drawn from personal experience, Sharma also tries to connect with universal themes. “I tend to think that we are all pretty much alike,” he explained in a Q&A for Guernica magazine, with friend and fellow novelist Mohsin Hamid ’93. “We all feel despair. We all have problems with relationships. We all become afraid. We all look at others and think these other people are more fortunate than us.”

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

Read PAW’s First Issue, Published on This Date in 1900

PAW’s first issue — April 7, 1900. Click on the photo to read a PDF version.

PAW’s first issue — April 7, 1900. Click on the photo to read a PDF version.

Have you ever wondered what class notes looked like when PAW began publishing in 1900? To mark PAW’s 114th birthday, we’ve scanned and posted the entire first issue, including notes that report on Booth Tarkington 1893’s latest book and the military exploits of Lt. Gordon Johnston 1896 that would later earn him the Medal of Honor.

Volume 1, Issue 1 also outlined the magazine’s mission; shared news from regional alumni dinners and campus events; updated Tiger fans with the latest baseball scores; published the first PAW memorial, for Samuel H. Pennington, Class of 1825; and included an advertisement for the Princeton Inn (now Forbes College), “A charming resort situated in the midst of the beautiful university town … University golf links adjacent.”

Click here to view the full PDF.

#ThrowbackThursday: Signs of Spring

Mahlon Lovett/Office of Communications

Mahlon Lovett/Office of Communications

Nothing says spring like a game of whiffle ball. Mahlon Lovett of the communications office captured this shot of undergrads in action in 1983, and PAW featured it on the cover of the April 20 issue that year. The names of the players were not provided, so if you can identify them, please let us know in the comments. Continue reading