Photo by Steven Freeman
At an all-alumni event in Boston on Feb. 2, President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 shared updates on University strategic initiatives in the second year of the public phase of the Venture Forward campaign.
Eisgruber was joined on stage at Boston Park Plaza by Wyc Grousbeck ’83, lead owner and governor of the Boston Celtics basketball team, and their conversation explored the University’s investments in engineering and the liberal arts, the importance of diversity in Princeton’s commitment to excellence, and how achievement and education are intertwined in its athletics programs.
The evening began with Alumni Council President Mary Newburn ’97, who welcomed the audience of around 450 alumni and noted that, “We are particularly excited that the Venture Forward campaign highlights alumni engagement as one of its strategic pillars — shining a bright light on the many ways that together we are Tigers Rising, coming together to learn, to volunteer, and to reunite, like at this evening’s event.” Newburn also introduced a campaign video and the evening’s speakers.
Grousbeck began the conversation by asking his classmate, “Can you share what is special about Princeton in just three words?” Eisgruber chose “friendship, mentorship and excellence,” and thanked alumni for “bringing the orange and black out” in Boston.
The next question, the Celtics owner said, was “a real layup,” asking Eisgruber to share how the Venture Forward campaign advances what is special about Princeton.
“We decided we were going to run this campaign differently from others; we want to push the boundaries by making a difference for the world,” he said. “Venture Forward is about making audacious bets on the students who we admit, on the faculty we bring to our campus. If we bring talent to Princeton University and allow people to pursue ideas that are beautiful and bold and have incredibly long-term payoffs, we can make a difference for the better.”
Eisgruber also mentioned the two new residential colleges and programming that allows the University to expand opportunity to more students, and strong investments in environmental studies and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
“We’re investing in engineering because as we look at what a liberal arts university does in the 21st century, I think it’s important that we produce engineers that understand the humanistic perspective that comes with a liberal arts education and that we produce people in the liberal arts who understand technology,” he noted.
Eisgruber further emphasized the importance that the campaign places on “continuing to activate the alumni body and the connections that last a lifetime at Princeton.”
Grousbeck asked about the affirmative action case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, of which Eisgruber noted, “Whatever happens in that case, we’re going to find ways to push ourselves to preserve the diversity that we think matters to the excellence of our University and the future of this country.”
Princeton’s excellence in athletics, and its emphasis on “education through athletics” was also a lively topic, with Grousbeck celebrating Princeton’s 84 Ivy League championships during Eisgruber’s tenure, and noting that he “is a pretty sporty president for someone who has a physics degree.”
After a Q&A session with the audience, Brandon McGhee ’18 led the alumni in the singing of “Old Nassau.” The event was followed by a reception as well as an event for recent alumni.
The Boston event was the second of a quartet of 2022-23 presidential conversations scheduled before Reunions. Eisgruber will also visit Chicago (March 9) and Washington, D.C. (April 18) as part of the Venture Forward campaign.