In its April 24, 2013, issue the Princeton Alumni Weekly published its recurring column, “The President’s Page” by soon-to-leave-office Shirley M. Tilghman. For this issue President Tilghman penned an unabashed lamentation, “The cold wind of sequestration,” referring to the United States Congress having allowed planned cuts in federal spending to go forward.
How times have changed! In this semicentennial year of celebration for your humble scribe and his Princeton classmates (a mere 19% if the life of the university) our beloved alma mater has gone from a private institution proudly proclaiming its independence from governmental funding for research to a supplicant before the taxpayers, all the while evincing the arrogance of one who expects his due as that transcending the remaining needs of the people. To be sure, the University has had federal funding come its way before my time in residence, for instance the Forrestal Campus doing fundamental research in fusion physics, among other endeavors. However, Forrestal, in reality has been more of a federal project administered by the University, rather than a mainstream research effort of the larger faculty. In all essence, however, Princeton was a private university unfettered by the control demands of public funding sources. How nice it was!
Now we have in the President’s column, as she speaks for the Trustees whose policy she executes, the word that the nation is to suffer greatly because it will not continue to fund beyond its budgetary capabilities the research program of Princeton University. In her concluding remarks she correctly identifies, though not within her comprehension, that “the current climate in Washington … merits the concern of all Americans.” Yes, and not because of her implication that we “Americans” must ante up more for the gluttonous Princeton, but rather that we must enforce a strict diet on the budget ever more conscientiously. BTW, the other six of the Seven Deadly Sins are well represented in this incredible text. As they are easy to find I leave their identification to the reader.