June 2022: The Value of Persistence

June 15, 2022

In his address to the Princeton Class of 2022, President Eisgruber focused on the value of persistence to the graduating students' achievements.

"You earned your degrees today in many ways and for many reasons, but not least because you persisted brilliantly throughout your time on this campus and away from it," he said. "You persisted not only through a world-altering pandemic, but through problem sets, writing assignments, laboratories, midterms, finals, senior theses, dissertations, and the personal crises and doubts that are an inevitable part of college life and, indeed, of life more generally."

President Eisgruber went on to describe why getting across the finish line and earning a degree matters today.

"[Getting a college degree] correlates with everything from higher incomes to better health to greater civic engagement—and the list goes on...which is why we celebrate Commencement day with admiration and exuberant joy."

And while "graduation rates for Princeton students remain sky-high," President Eisgruber explained that this was not necessarily true for other colleges and universities.

“Some students left school during the pandemic and have not returned. Some high school students who might have gone to college have made other choices instead. Though the data is incomplete, both problems appear to have a disproportionate effect on students from less advantaged backgrounds and those who attend community colleges and other public, two-year institutions.”

To this, he commended Governor Murphy's 'Some College, No Degree' program, which would assist the nearly 700,000 New Jersey students who left school without finishing and expressed hoped that the New Jersey Legislature would fund the program.

A Double Commencement

Doctor Fauci addresses Class of 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci calls on Princeton 2022 grads to address societal ills

On May 23rd, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Class Day Keynote Speaker, called upon the Class of 2022 to use their knowledge, experience, and connections earned at Princeton to address the many issues plaguing society today. Foremost among these issues, he explained, were structural racism and the rise of disinformation in the public sphere. He said he felt troubled “that differences of opinion or ideology have in certain situations been reflected by egregious distortions of reality. … Yet the outrage and dissent against this alarming trend has been muted and mild.”
“Seek and listen to opinions that are different from your own,” he told his audience. “But apply your abilities to critically analyze and examine, which you have honed well here at Princeton, to discern and challenge weak assertions built on untruths. As future leaders in our society, we are truly counting on you for that.” At the end of the ceremony, Dr. Fauci was named an honorary member of the Class of 2022. Watch the full address

Ray Chambers accepts his honorary degree

Newark native and world-renowned philanthropist Ray Chambers receives honorary degree in person 

Two years ago, Ray Chambers received an honorary degree at Princeton University in a virtual ceremony along with Princeton's 2020 graduating class. He is the Ambassador of Global Health at the World Health Organization and engages in philanthropic efforts to stop the spread of malaria around the world and increase high school graduation rates throughout the United States. Locally, he has invested heavily in the revitalization of the city of Newark, where he was born and raised. At the in-person commencement ceremony for Princeton's 2020 graduating class on May 18th, Ray Chambers was able to receive his honorary degree in person, exemplifying the tremendous progress we've made as an institution and a community. Read more

Princeton University Preparatory Program stock photo

New Jersey high school students celebrate completion of the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP) 

The day after Commencement for the Class of 2022 concluded, celebrations continued as high school students graduated from the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP). Selected during the spring of their freshman year, low-income, high-achieving students from five Mercer County high schools completed three intensive six-and-a-half week summer institutes at Princeton University and took part in school year programming, including weekly after school academic enrichment sessions and a series of cultural excursions. PUPP also worked directly with students and their families during their senior year of high school to provide guidance and support during the college admissions and financial aid application processes. More information about the program can be found here

Celebrating Our History, Forging a New Path Forward

Laura Wooten receives citation from New Jersey Legislature

 University will name building in honor of Laura Wooten, who was recognized as longest serving U.S. poll worker

Princeton’s Board of Trustees has approved naming a University building for Laura Wooten, who was recognized as the longest serving election poll worker in the United States, in honor of her outstanding service to the nation and to humanity. Wooten was a longtime resident of Princeton, New Jersey, and worked in Campus Dining for more than 27 years. She died in March 2019 at the age of 98.

The naming of Laura Wooten Hall is intended to honor her extraordinary contributions and emphasize the importance of civic engagement at all levels.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber said: “I am grateful to the Naming Committee for this inspiring recommendation, and I am delighted that Princeton will honor Laura Wooten for her extraordinary contributions to our nation and the democratic process. The addition of Laura Wooten’s name to the tapestry of our campus will recognize Princeton’s history, the breadth of our community, and the positive impact that one remarkable person can have through lifelong dedication to public service and civic values.” Read the full story.

Emily Sanchez accepts citation from New Jersey Legislature, is congratulated by Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Hilary Parker

Princeton Grad highlights New Jersey's Latino-American history

On May 9th, Emily Sánchez '22, a recipient of an alumni-funded ReachOut Fellowship for her post graduation project "Podcasting History: An Opportunity to Bring Latino Voices Inside New Jersey's History Classrooms," was honored with a commendation from the New Jersey Legislature. Sánchez, pictured here with Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Hilary Parker, received a proclamation for her accomplishments from the office of Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz. During her fellowship, Emily will partner with the New Jersey Hispanic Research Information Center at the Newark Public Library to help secondary school teachers highlight Latino-American voices and diversify New Jersey's history curricula. Sánchez, a first generation Peruvian-American and New Jersey native, is also the recipient of the Princeton Department of History's Shelby Cullom Davis Award for Independent Research and a TUMI USA Award of Excellence. Read more.  

Jamie Yeh and James Yeh

University names residential college in undergraduate expansion effort

James Yeh ’87 and his wife, Jaimie Yeh, have made a major gift, naming one of the new residential colleges at Princeton University. Yeh College, comprised of four dormitory halls and previously referred to as New College East, will open in August to welcome returning students and the Class of 2026. The new buildings will advance one of Princeton’s highest strategic priorities: an expansion of the student body so that additional high-achieving students will realize the benefits of a Princeton education, enhance the diversity and vitality of the campus community, and contribute to society after they graduate. Read more

Maya Dummett

Princeton Alumni award New Jersey high school students 2022 Princeton Prize in Race Relations 

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations (PPRR) recognizes and rewards high school students who, through their volunteer activities, have undertaken significant efforts to advance racial equity and understanding in their schools or communities. Prize recipients receive an award of $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Symposium on Race at Princeton University. Awardees are chosen by committees representing 28 regions and one At-Large region.
This year's North Jersey recipient is senior Maya Dummett of Morristown High School. As president of Melanin Minds, one of the leading student organizations pursuing racial justice in Morristown, Maya cultivates a community-based space where students of color can find fellowship and take collective social justice action through productive discussions and service initiatives.

Kyler Zhou

The PPRR Central/South Jersey recipient is Kyler Zhou, a junior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, and the founder and executive director of Hear Our Voices magazine, a student-led literary magazine that publishes monthly issues focusing on the uplifting of Asian American stories to counter the harmful impositions of the model minority myth and other challenges of the Asian American identity.
Zhou's efforts, along with others, ultimately led to the passage of NJ Senate Bill 4021, which made New Jersey the second state to mandate the teaching of Asian American history in K-12 public schools. A full list of award recipients can be found here

Princeton University students engage in discussion with Trenton artists

Active listening as activism

This spring, nine Princeton undergraduate students set out to determine if close listening could be a form of activism in a course that explored the vibrant arts scene in Trenton, New Jersey, through the lens of activism.
Students in “Arts in the Invisible City: Race, Policy, Performance” had the opportunity to see a performance of a documentary theater work, “The OK Trenton Project,” at Passage Theatre Company. They visited the studio of Tamara Torres, an Afro-Latina artist whose work addresses women’s rights and racial equity, and they took a walking tour of Trenton murals with graffiti artist Leon Rainbow.
Reflecting the course’s focus on oral history, six participants — professors, staff, and students — shared their experiences of teaching, inspiration, and discovery. Read the full story

Princeton research consortium with Google, GE, and Clearpath

Google, GE, ClearPath have joined a new Princeton research consortium focusing on low-carbon technology

Applying academic research to help accelerate low-carbon innovation, Princeton’s ZERO lab has created a new coalition, bringing together corporations and researchers focused on scalable clean energy technologies. The consortium, aligned with the corporate membership program Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, includes founding members of Google, GE and ClearPath.

Jesse Jenkins, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and principal investigator of the ZERO lab, helped design and launch the new consortium with the goal of helping organizations transform their businesses and, in turn, make key energy technologies more commercially viable and quicker to be deployed. Read more

Research Updates 

city and body of water viewed from the sky

Princeton research is pursuing a sustainable future for New Jersey and the world

When it comes to understanding and protecting the environment, New Jersey provides fertile ground for Princeton University researchers. The state’s four geological regions and its mix of urban, rural and suburban communities allow Princeton faculty, staff and students to develop environmental and climate solutions on their home turf that address an array of global concerns.

Princeton research now underway in New Jersey is studying the impact of coastal storms, extreme heat and even the action of wind turbines, guarding against lead contamination in cities, breaking down toxins with a bacteria native to the Assunpink wetlands, helping Garden State farmers, and more. Read the full story

infographic on cropland abandonment

Regrow, Not Reuse: How Restoring Abandoned Farms Can Mitigate Climate Change

Around the world, hundreds of millions of acres of land are being abandoned due to what’s known as “rural outmigration,” or people leaving for urban centers.
Some people leave in search of economic prosperity. Others are forced out due to conflict or the effects of climate change. Together with globalization and mechanization, these population shifts are changing the economics of farming in these areas, causing less productive lands to be abandoned.
Some of these croplands eventually regenerate into natural habitats, helping both to increase biodiversity and absorb atmospheric carbon. While environmentalists have been optimistic for this process to provide opportunities to restore habitats and sequester carbon, this is unlikely to happen without policy interventions, according to a new study in Science Advances, which shows that much of the land is eventually recultivated.

Read the full story