President Shirley Tilghman

September 23, 2012 by Sam Wang

Yesterday, our university’s president, Shirley Tilghman, announced that she was stepping down after over a decade of leadership. She’s been a great leader, and has led Princeton University in an exciting and inspiring way.

In so many areas – including expansion in academics across the board, student aid, coping with the economic downturn – she has played a critical role. In my area, neuroscience, a new institute now exists because of her efforts. When I came here in 2000, she was my departmental colleague, director of the genomics institute, and one of the reasons I decided to come to Princeton. Thank you, Shirley!



Amitabh Lath says:

Saw the quote from you in the NYTimes article about this. You lose a president and gain a faculty colleague.
Susan Hockfield retired as MIT’s president in June 2012. I remember the shock when her appointment was announced in 2004. The big shocker was not about her gender, but that she was a (gasp!) biologist. If you know how engineering-centered that place is, you understand the paradigm shift that was.
But she did really well. Some students have said the OpenCourseWare that MIT put out is really well thought out and useful.
Perhpas biologist really know a thing or two about how to make complicated systems function.

Sam Wang says:

We are also used to the idea that a system could be guided by a functional principle, but that its specific details could be contingent on specific historical events. Weird mechanisms are certainly not unfamiliar to us.

wheelers cat says:

That is a beautiful tribute, Dr. Wang.
And Amitabh….it is my suspicion that someday biology and physics will merge, on the border of the quantum and classical worlds.
Im actually a Tegmarkian.
The metaverse is made of math.
You know the liturgy, I’m sure.
Biologists speak only to chemists,
And chemists only to physicists.
Physicists speak only to mathematicians.
And mathematicians only to god.

Amitabh Lath says:

…and god speaks to funding agencies.

xian says:

thanks for that salute. as an aging alum, I found Dr. Tighlman to be an inspiring and communicative leader of the old place. I’ll perform a silent locomotive cheer in her honor.

Jacob Hartog says:

Among other salutary effects of Tighlman’s presidency, it seems to me, is the clear lesson that a great University president needs to be an excellent scholar and teacher and colleague, but not particularly a celebrity, professional fundraiser, or contrarian lightning rod in order to be successful.

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