Award for Service to Princeton

2020 Recipient

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The path to Princeton was not a straight one after Sue Pierson received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. An internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, a stint as a clinical dietician, and three years as Director of Food Service at a teaching hospital in Durham, North Carolina were interesting side trips along the way.

Then in 1986, the path became a road north: Meadow Lakes Retirement Community in East Windsor Township, New Jersey, hired Sue as Executive Dietitian. There she got her first introduction to Princeton alumni. Many of the residents regaled her with stories of their time as students, and she loved their festive class finery for Reunions. “Costumes!” she thought. “Princeton must be a great place.” In a moment of Princeton serendipity, a resident handed her the job opening announcements from the Princeton Weekly Bulletin. “Sue, I think you’d like this job.”  

Her travels were over. In 1967 she arrived as University Dietitian to administer the nutrition program for all members of the University community. Within months, she experienced her first Alumni Day and worked on the Class of 1983’s 5th Reunion. And she knew she had found her niche, had found her home.

Luckily for Princeton, Sue exceled at multi-tasking for the many branches of her family in her new home. She could oversee renovations of Rocky/Mathey or Butler/Wilson dining facilities and the opening of Whitman’s facilities for students, while coordinating custom dinner menus for dozens of Reunions Food chairs. She could lead the way for student health as a founding member of the University Eating Disorders team while instituting new ways to care for Reunions attendees with an array of dietary needs, especially those with allergies. She gave the same personal attention to more than a hundred University employees as she gave to one alumnus returning for his 50th Reunion who needed a special liquid meal. No sooner would her team have cleaned up from Prom Night and Class Day, but she would be taking phone calls from class officers about the next year’s Reunions.  

Those class officers did not take Sue for granted. From the Class of ’55 through the decades to today, they sing her praises. “She makes planning for Reunions a joy…A project that used to take hours, now takes only minutes….Her patience runs as deep as her knowledge, and I can be an annoying alumna!” To sum up, “the entire Princeton community owes Sue a debt of gratitude for her great leadership and passion for excellence.”

On Sue’s part, “The University was good to me. It allowed me to learn, to continue to grow. In 1996, when I said I wanted to run Reunions, they gave me the reins. I love Reunions, and I treasure the many Food Chairs who have become great friends.”

Over thirty-three years, as she rose through the ranks to become Director of Residential Dining, Sue touched the lives of nearly 50,000 students even before they became alumni and untold thousands more alumni who graduated before 1988 but have come back for Reunions. These have been her family in her home. For students and alumni alike, she has insured that they have been cared for, from overseeing dining halls to communicating directly with individual Reunion-goers who have unique diets, even when that can mean 900 personal phone calls in the months before Reunions.

Sue has overseen her Princeton home with grace and goodwill, and always with a smile. She has made every meal feel like a dinner party. And she has never taken credit, but gives all applause to her teams. The Alumni Council now with much affection applauds Sue with the Award for Service to Princeton.