Venture Forward banner on sidewalk

President’s Page: Venturing Forward

by Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83
February 11, 2022

This fall, Princeton announced the public launch of Venture Forward, an engagement and fundraising campaign.

Venture Forward sidewalk graphic
Venture Forward sidewalk graphic installed on campus this fall.
Photo: Nikki Fischer

We’ve been laying the foundation for this campaign since the Board of Trustees embarked on a strategic planning process seven years ago. In doing so, we were guided by Princeton’s core values: scholarly excellence; talent and truth-seeking; access, affordability, and inclusivity; and service broadly understood.

“Venture Forward” captures our intention to move into a new day for Princeton and the world—while remaining firmly anchored in and faithful to the values that define us.

Throughout its history, Princeton University has planned carefully for growth while investing boldly in human potential and groundbreaking inquiry. We have sought to address the most complex challenges of each age with depth of purpose and creative collaboration.

Princeton’s distinctive model and mission have given scholars the freedom to focus on profound questions that matter greatly over the longer term. From alumnus James Madison 1771, whose study of philosophy and political theory shaped America’s Constitution; to Alan Turing *38, whose research into the theoretical frontiers of abstract mathematics helped lay the foundation for the digital revolution; to Sonia Sotomayor ’76, whose path led from a housing project in the South Bronx to her position on the Supreme Court, Princetonians have envisioned the possible in ways that their predecessors could scarcely have predicted.

Now, through the Venture Forward campaign, we have the opportunity to ask new questions that will move us from the present to the possible.

We’re focusing the goals of this campaign not on a specific dollar amount, but rather on three areas of impact: deepening engagement of our alumni community; providing a platform to communicate Princeton’s service to humanity and its vision for the future; and securing philanthropic support for the University’s strategic initiatives.

Working closely with alumni leaders, the University will create new and enhanced opportunities for volunteer service, lifelong learning, events, digital communications, and other initiatives. A recent example is Orange & Black Day, a new digital tradition launched by the Alumni Council this year on the 275th anniversary of the University’s founding.

In support of the engagement goals of Venture Forward, I look forward to speaking at alumni gatherings in cities near you this year and next, starting with San Francisco in March and New York City in April. And of course I look forward to welcoming thousands of alumni back to campus for Reunions this spring.

Annual Giving is another core priority of the Venture Forward campaign. Each year, unrestricted gifts from alumni, parents, and friends help provide the “margin of excellence” that sustains and enhances the University’s distinctive academic programs.

Princeton’s strategic plan shapes the campaign’s other key fundraising initiatives, including college access and affordability, financial aid, data science, bioengineering, the environment, American studies, and many other important areas of inquiry.

Through your support, Princeton looks forward to a day when we can offer a transformative educational experience to an even greater number of talented students. Since 2001, our groundbreaking no-loan financial aid program has made Princeton affordable to students from all backgrounds. Over the last 20 years, the program has benefited more than 10,000 undergraduates and allowed 83 percent of recent seniors to graduate debt-free. The new residential colleges under construction will allow us to admit more students, making it necessary to secure new scholarships and fellowships.

It will also be important to continue providing the support and resources students need to be successful once they matriculate. The newly launched Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity serves as a hub for Princeton’s access and success programs, and promotes research and information-sharing with colleges and universities across the country.

Through Venture Forward we look forward to a day when the world’s most innovative thinkers respond to the climate crisis with a roadmap for achieving a carbon-neutral economy; to a day when data science balances an exponential leap in knowledge with the preservation of privacy and promotion of social equity; and a day when bioengineers harness the potential of complex biological systems for advancements in health, medicine, and quality of life.

To learn more about the campaign and its priorities, I invite you to visit the campaign website (alumni.princeton. edu/venture-forward) and to view and share the “Dare to Venture” video series, which offers a window into the transformative impact that Princeton is making in the world.

As I lead this University, I think back often to the profound impact that Princeton has had upon my own life, first as a student and then as a faculty member. When I look out now from my office in Nassau Hall or walk the grounds of this beautiful campus, I marvel at the vitality of our students, the insight of our scholars, and the achievements of our alumni. This is a place where spirits soar and people achieve the spectacular—as happened this fall when, in the month that we launched this campaign, five Princetonians were awarded Nobel Prizes.

The creativity and accomplishments of this community are endlessly inspiring. I am grateful for your engagement and support as we Venture Forward.

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly.