For Adam Lichtenstein ’95 *10, who’s spent the last 26 years lending his time and energy to Princeton, accepting the position of assistant treasurer of the Alumni Council earlier this summer was an easy yes. “I had such a wonderful experience at Princeton,” said Lichtenstein, who currently lives in New York City with his wife and eight-year-old twin girls. “I don’t want to be too cute about it, but it’s never been a hard decision to volunteer for Princeton.”
The Alabama native clearly has great affection for his alma mater, but Princeton was not always his first choice. As a high school junior, he looked primarily at engineering schools, but he quickly reconsidered after seeing the campus and having a hunch that earning a degree from a school with broader educational offerings may ultimately be a better fit.
Turns out, he was right. While Lichtenstein majored in aerospace and mechanical engineering, he also pursued a certificate in the School of Public and International Affairs, taking half his classes in non-engineering subjects. “While I enjoyed my engineering classes, I’ve never worked a day of my life as an engineer,” said Lichtenstein, who began his career in venture capital and currently works in quantitative finance. “I think of myself as a researcher, spending most of my day writing computer code, thinking through problems and building models to trade in financial markets.”
For close to 10 years after graduation, he volunteered as an alumni interviewer — “I loved sharing my Princeton experience with prospective students” — before returning to Princeton to earn his master’s in finance, an entirely different experience from his undergraduate years. His first time through Princeton, he participated in and led Outdoor Action, joined club Taekwondo and became a member of Charter Club, where he spent time with his close friends. When he returned as a graduate student, he was married and armed with an email address and a laptop, two technological advances since his undergraduate years. “I don’t know if graduate school was better or worse, but it was dramatically different,” he said. “I got to experience Princeton from both sides.”
At the same time, he was tapped by his class to take over as their class treasurer, overseeing the class’s scholarship and grant funds. Five years later, he was invited to join the Alumni Council as a member of the Class Affairs Committee.
“I think I checked the box of being an undergrad and a graduate alum, and there aren’t too many of us around,” he said.
Those dual experiences have given him an interesting perspective as a member of the alumni governing body. He eventually went on to become vice chair and chair of that committee, and in doing so, witnessed how the committee has evolved over the years.
“For so many alumni, the class connection is your main connection, your affiliation, to Princeton,” he said. “Now there are so many other ways to be affiliated – regional groups, affiliated groups. Sitting on that committee for close to 10 years, I felt like I got to see some of this transition and how that works.
“Among the many challenges that the alumni body is facing is this evolving connection that people have and how they’re paying for that,” he added. “That’s my role as the assistant treasurer — to help think about that.”
Additionally, Lichtenstein helps plan and oversee the operating budget, and helps advise the committee leadership and officers. While many agree that COVID-19 has helped improve virtual communications, Lichtenstein looks forward to meeting once again in person and on campus. “I can’t wait to be back at Princeton,” he said. “I still remember seeing campus, Blair Arch and falling in love. It’s those kinds of memories that really stick with you and come first.”