Alumni welcome President Eisgruber for regional event in London

by Advancement Communications
December 15, 2022

President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 met with Princeton alumni and friends in London on Dec. 6, sharing updates on University strategic initiatives during the second year of the public phase of the Venture Forward campaign.

Eisgruber was joined on stage at Royal Horticultural Halls by Razia Iqbal, BBC news anchor and a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, and the two engaged in a conversation that explored the evolving roles of the humanities and engineering at Princeton in the 21st century, the University’s steadfast commitment to free speech, the importance of access and diversity to the future of Princeton, and proactive measures to address student mental health.

The event began with Alumni Council President Mary Newburn ’97, who welcomed the alumni and introduced a new Venture Forward video that emphasizes the University’s focus on making “audacious bets on what’s possible.” The video demonstrates that Princetonians are asking important “What if?” questions, and that’s where Iqbal began the conversation, asking Eisgruber to look at the University with an outsider’s eye. He discussed how he came to be president and the main motivation that drives his leadership: creating more opportunities for more students from more backgrounds so they can make a positive difference in the world.

Here are some of the other takeaways from the conversation:

Engineering is a major priority of the University, and Eisgruber noted that with its strength in the humanities, Princeton is well-positioned to produce non-engineers with a greater grasp of technology and engineers who are guided by the values that mark a liberal arts education. He pointed to the Princeton University Art Museum, currently being redesigned and rebuilt, as a central gathering place on campus that will have the potential to revitalize students’ relationships with the arts and humanities.

During his discussion with Iqbal and in the alumni Q&A that followed, Eisgruber discussed the importance of access and diversity to the University, and the steps that are being taken to prepare for the possibility that the United States Supreme Court could soon reverse laws related to affirmative action in college admissions. The University, he said, continues to argue in favor of affirmative action since finding and attracting talent from every sector of society is crucial to the University’s success.

One alumnus asked what Princeton should maximize to achieve success. Eisgruber pointed to the long-term impact on the world of Princeton’s teaching and research. “One of the things that’s been reinforced for me over time is how much difference education can make in individual lives and how much difference education and research can make in the world,” he said, noting British mathematician Alan Turing *38 as an example of a Princetonian who changed the world. “If talented people can be the subject of these audacious bets that we talked about, they can do unbelievable things by pursuing truth and beauty.”

After the Q&A, Dean Menegas ’83 and members of the Princeton Association of the United Kingdom took the stage to lead the assembly in a singing of “Old Nassau.”

The London event was the first of a quartet of 2022-23 presidential conversations scheduled before Reunions. Eisgruber will also visit Boston (Feb. 2, 2023), Chicago (March 9, 2023) and Washington, D.C. (April 18, 2023) as part of the Venture Forward campaign.