Photo by Susan Fou


President Eisgruber meets with alumni in Hong Kong for Venture Forward event

by Advancement Communications
December 14, 2023

President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 flew more than 8,000 miles to meet with Princeton alumni and friends in Hong Kong on Dec. 5, sharing updates on the University’s strategic initiatives during the third year of the public phase of the Venture Forward campaign.

The event at the Four Seasons Hotel began with Alumni Council President Monica Moore Thompson ’89, who welcomed alumni and introduced a new Venture Forward video that emphasizes the University’s focus on “making audacious bets on talent.” She announced her theme for the Alumni Council — “I am Princeton. You are Princeton. Together we are Princeton.” — and applauded the Venture Forward campaign for making alumni engagement one of its strategic pillars. “What brings us together in person and in spirit, year after year, is that there’s something we all have in common as Tigers,” she said. “Princeton made an audacious bet on who we are and what we could become and accomplish.” 

After the meal, Eisgruber was joined on stage by Harold Kim *93, CEO of New Risk Investment Advisors and board chair of the Hong Kong International School, who guided the conversation through a series of topics that included China-U.S. relations, the war in Gaza and Israel, the Supreme Court’s ruling that reversed affirmative action in college admissions, and the ongoing expansion of the University. 

Eisgruber acknowledged that there are “political headwinds” related to China-U.S. tensions, but he has been encouraged when he visits Washington, D.C., in part because the chairman, Mike Gallagher ’06, and ranking member, Raja Krishnamoorthi ’95, of the House Select Committee on China are fellow alumni who can work together. Promoting the free flow of information and attracting talent from all over the world have been productive policies for the United States and Princeton University, Eisgruber said, and the number of applicants to Princeton and matriculants from China and Hong Kong has remained strong in the last five years. Eisgruber added that Princeton remains steadfastly committed to forging the connections and understanding that benefit both countries. 

Kim praised Eisgruber for his statement that addressed the Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel, and asked about the subsequent tensions caused by the war in the Middle East that have roiled some college campuses. “This conflict is very personal for a lot of people,” Eisgruber said. “The issues of justice are raw and urgent, and universities are places where those arguments have to take place.” 

He pointed to the livestreamed conversation between Amaney Jamal, dean of Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, and Keren Yarhi-Milo, dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, which he moderated on Nov. 28, as an example of the importance of bringing people together in a respectful manner. 

“We’ve thus far managed to keep most of the conversations constructive and civil on the Princeton campus,” Eisgruber said, “but these are issues of deep passion and urgency, and they are being discussed on our campuses in a way that is rare within American society and world society.” 

The impact of the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision to end affirmative action in college admissions is still unclear, Eisgruber said, since the ruling was made after schools admitted the most recent class of students. Eisgruber added that he disagreed with the court’s decision, and that it would not change the University’s goal of searching for talent from all different sectors and backgrounds. “We cannot educate students to lead in a multicultural, cosmopolitan and diverse world, we cannot make contributions to problems that require the understanding of diverse peoples and cultures unless we are drawing talent from all backgrounds,” he said. “We are dedicated to continuing to do that, and we’re now going to do it with additional restrictions on what was a difficult process.” 

Eisgruber and Kim also discussed the ongoing campus construction and expansion that includes new residential colleges, graduate housing, the Princeton University Art Museum, Frist Health Center, and the Environmental Studies and School of Engineering and Applied Science neighborhood on Ivy Lane, among other projects. “I think it’s always incumbent on us as a community to think, ‘How do we do best push forward to make a difference in the world for the better,’ and that’s what that construction represents,” Eisgruber said. “Here’s the principle we work on: We want to expand and seize these new opportunities and we want to do it in a way that preserves the distinctive features of Princeton University.” 

Following the discussion, Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed *02 *10, the president of the Princeton Club of Hong Kong, thanked Eisgruber and the guests for the “shot of energy” their visit provided to their community. Lastly, George Fong *10 took the stage to lead the assembly in a singing of “Old Nassau.” 

The Hong Kong event was the first of a quartet of 2023-24 presidential conversations scheduled before Alumni Day. Eisgruber will also visit Los Angeles (Jan. 10, 2024), West Palm Beach, Florida (Feb. 12, 2024) and Naples, Florida (Feb. 14, 2024) as part of the Venture Forward campaign.