A few years after graduation, Beth Chute ’83 took a solo career leap: She moved to Milan as a business journalist.
The English major, who had studied Spanish and Italian literature and language at Princeton, had no social media to rely on — handwritten letters that took two or three weeks to arrive from the U.S. provided news from home. But the earliest greetings surprised Chute. “The first piece of mail I got was from Princeton, inviting me to get involved with alumni in Italy,” she remembers. “It really made me feel welcome.”
That invitation has been followed by many others asking Chute to be involved with Princeton class and regional associations, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, the Alumni Council Executive Committee, and most recently, the Committee to Nominate Alumni Trustees (CTNAT). Over the years she has happily obliged, varying her volunteer posts as her career moves and time allowed.
“I always wanted to give back after graduation,” Chute says. “In 2011 when I was asked to be on the Alumni Relations and Communications Committee, I discovered a whole world of being involved I wasn’t aware of, like the Technology Committee and the Princetoniana Committee. There are just so many ways to be involved and connect with Princeton.”
Giving back to Princeton as a volunteer also was inspired by her father, Mortimer Chute Jr. ’56. His many volunteer efforts included chairing the Alumni Council as well as leadership for ReachOut 56-81 (now ReachOut 56-81-06), the alumni-funded effort that underwrites public service projects, one domestic and one international, as year-long fellowships post-graduation. Chute’s Princeton experience began long before she matriculated, coming to campus for Reunions with her parents and, with her sisters (two of whom are also Princeton alumnae), running all over campus playing with other kids. But when she came as a student, not long after coeducation’s arrival, she found it “daunting to arrive on campus with so many people smarter than you are.”
Her strategy: She dabbled in many different activities, but the one that sings out is helping found the a cappella group Tigressions. For their first performance at 1879 Arch, Chute says the newbies were quite nervous, but rallied — their playlist offered an upbeat version of “Everything is Coming Up Roses.”
When Chute returns to campus for Reunions, a cappella group arch sings remain a highlight. These days, Chute, who moved on from her journalism days to handling strategic communications for institutions of academic medicine and higher education, visits campus more often in her volunteer capacity.
Her term as CTNAT chair, which ended in June 2020, was eye-opening, and filled her with a similar wonder as when she first came to campus and discovered the diverse talents of Princetonians.
“How do you decide among these amazing candidates?” she says. “It’s inspiring to me to learn about these wonderful people and the level of their enthusiasm for Princeton.” Her big takeaway: an even deeper appreciation for the innumerable ways one can be involved and connected to Princeton.