Gene Jarrett ’97, dean of the faculty and the William S. Tod Professor of English, addressed alumni and friends during the annual 1746 Society Reunions seminar on May 27 in Prospect House.
Jarrett, a literary scholar who Toni Morrison mentored during his undergraduate years, is the author of three books, most recently a 2022 biography of African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. His lecture,“A Liberal Arts Journey Comes Full Circle,” detailed his academic journey from high school in New York City to returning to Princeton.
Since becoming dean of the faculty in 2021, Jarrett further enhanced Princeton’s academic excellence by stewarding academic policies and procedures, cultivating diversity and inclusion, and recruiting and retaining the best faculty to support a growing student population.
Of particular interest to Jarrett is the goal of establishing a humanities institute. “Now is precisely the time for us to assert the importance of human creativity and intelligence at a time when you have rampant media attention to artificial intelligence,” he said. “To what extent can the humanities as an academic discipline be an intellectual clearinghouse on the virtues and vices of artificial intelligence?”
“I’m working with a range of faculty to establish the intellectual vision and the infrastructure for a humanities institute,” he added.
Jarrett also spoke about the importance of endowed professorships in retaining talented faculty, including the roster of University Professorships that his office established soon after his arrival. Endowed professorships are also an opportunity for devoted alumni to support the University and cultivate a long-term conversation with an esteemed faculty member.
To learn more about the 1746 Society, visit its webpage.
Watch the presentation below:
The seminar began with breakfast in Prospect’s Garden Room. Before Jarrett spoke, guests were treated to a 30-minute live performance by the Footnotes, Princeton’s celebrated a cappella group. Their entire set, which culminates with “Old Nassau,” is presented below: