Princeton Magazine, March 2023

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MARCH 2023
Adam Welch, executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton, has energized the arts community and beyond
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Adam Welch, executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton, has energized the arts community and beyond


From “An obscure village” to “The capital of America” 22


Opening doors for young students through international language immersion 32




“Marvelous” sport enjoys growing polularity 48



The words of the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University serve as a balm during turbulent times 54


Joyce Carol Oates: From Alice to Marilyn 60



The Princeton-HBCU Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation 64


Arts Council of Princeton Executive Director Adam Welch. (Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon)
MARCH 2023
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Dear Princeton Magazine Readers,

Late in January there was a “meet and greet” event to launch the new “Experience Princeton” program with the tagline, “Discoveries Around Every Corner.” One of the attendees came up to me and mentioned how much he enjoyed my Publisher’s Letter, saying that he read the letter before he explored the rest of the magazine.

As much as I enjoyed the compliment, being the overachiever that I am accused of being, I found myself challenged on how to make the reading of your magazine even more enjoyable with this issue. I can start by the telling you that you will definitely “Experience Princeton” with new discoveries about this great town in every single article. They range from the arts, writing, and education to history, science, immigration, climate change, and even sports with our article about fencing, which is also considered an art!

Adam Welch, who graces our cover, is the dynamic director of the Arts Council of Princeton, located at 102 Witherspoon Street. But, if Adam has his way, the Arts Council will soon touch every corner of our town. His middle name should be Energy, and before you even read Anne Levin’s article, make it a point to drop in to the Arts Council at the corner diagonally across from the Princeton Public Library and see the stunning exhibits gracing the walls of its galleries. Never been there before? Well, make that your first new discovery!

Also in the area of new discovery, Donald H. Sanborn lll brings you “A Groundbreaking Program” between Princeton University and five historically Black colleges and universities to enable research collaborations funded through the Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation. Early research projects that are already underway include coastal flooding in the mid-Atlantic region, how poverty-stricken people in Mississippi are surviving on their Social Security, and whether asthma education programs in the District of Columbia are improving child health. This article illustrates how Princeton University is reaching out beyond its own borders to help other institutions engage their faculties in making new discoveries.

While today we may see Princeton as one of the top universities in the world, Wendy Greenberg takes us back 240 years to when Princeton was an obscure institution in a tiny town in New Jersey that suddenly became the capital of America. You will be amazed by the engravings that grace Wendy’s article and also amused by how, due to copyright law, the engravers get the same credit notice that we have to give photographers today.

Fintan O’Toole is the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University and a prolific writer of nonfiction as a literary and drama critic, historical writer, and political commentator. Ilene Dube also reports in this story that he has written over two dozen books and is considered one of Ireland’s leading intellectuals. In reading the draft, I was fascinated to learn about the recent history of this very small country through O’Toole’s recounting of the poor conditions on all fronts during his childhood.

Just as O’Toole has written about the famous Irish novelist James Joyce, you will be fascinated by our own Stuart Mitchner’s writing about a different Joyce, as in Joyce Carol Oates, as he reviews her life between Alice, as in Wonderland, and Marilyn, as in Monroe. Stuart writes about her book, Blonde, of 20 years ago that was recently adapted by Netflix. He points out that a review of the book notes that what was once read as “sensationalizing the story of Monroe,” should now be seen ”as a passionate and prophetic defense.” I came away wanting to read the book and see the Netflix adaptation. In the article, you will be stunned by the beautiful photo of a young Joyce Carol Oates included in the layout.

Most of us won’t be around to measure the positive impact of the “global exchange” that Taylor Smith writes about in her description of the long-term benefits of teaching children a second or even third language at a very young age. Fortunately, as outlined in her article, world language

learning opportunities are offered at many Princeton private schools, besides those available at the Princeton Public Schools. The Princeton Public Library even has children’s story times in everything from Russian to Spanish, along with a Chinese Book Group.

After sitting around doing all of this wonderful reading, are you ready for some exercise? Fencing, anyone? Did you say fencing, where ballet dancers become warriors? That may be overstating the situation, but there is no question that fencing as a sport is growing in popularity, not only in colleges but also in secondary schools and even in the adult club world. You will enjoy reading about Paul Epply-Schmidt, a lifetime fencer, who tells our writer Justin Feil (that’s not foil!) about the benefits of the sport and where in Princeton you can learn it, practice, and compete. En garde!

Finally, at the end of this letter, a story about the beginning of life — through in vitro fertilization, better known as IVF. Taylor Smith brings us up to date on the advances in the science of the process along with the advances in the demand for it for reasons that I will leave for you to find out in the article.

On a personal note, my wife Barbara and I worked for nine years trying to get pregnant, including several years of IVF. I recall one excited call I got from our doctor saying it was working and he had “a basketball team” in the petri dish. The next morning I called him and he said that the five possibilities were down to “a golfer.” By the end of the day it was over; another of our countless failures.

We finally decided to give it up, stopped all of the medicines that came with the process, and were resigned to being childless. To cheer Barbara up, I took her to Paris for a week. We did not know it at the time, but we came home pregnant with our Jordan, now 30 years old. The motto: Never give up!

Our Editor-in-Chief Lynn Adams Smith and I, along with our team, hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

All best wishes,


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Ambassador of the


Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon Adam Welch, executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton, has energized the arts community and beyond

When Adam Welch has trouble sleeping at night, he goes online and reads old newspapers about the history of Princeton. Any mention he finds of 102 Witherspoon Street — home of the Arts Council of Princeton, of which he has been executive director since September 2020 — is especially gratifying.

“It’s not that I’m obsessed with the past,” the affable Welch says during a conversation in his art-filled office on a rainy morning. “I just want to see where we came from.”

Knowing and understanding the community in which he works is key to Welch’s leadership style. Since taking over the 55-year-old cultural center, housed for the past 40 years in a building at Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson Place that once served as the African American “Y” and Youth Center, he has set out to provide inclusive programming for not only the bordering Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, but the surrounding area as well.

“Communities are so important,” he says, “and there are communities within communities. We want to be good partners to all of them. Whether it’s Witherspoon-Jackson right behind us, or the business community, or the different residential neighborhoods, we want them to see us as a help.”

A potter who has participated in 37 solo or group exhibitions, Welch came to the Arts Council after 17 years — 10 as director — at

Greenwich House Pottery in New York. Since 2010, he has been a lecturer at Princeton University. He is also a critic focused on the artists and activities of contemporary art. He lives with his wife, a fashion designer, and two daughters, in Hightstown.

suburban Virginia through matriculation at several colleges, displaying impressive recall of the names of teachers and mentors who have influenced him throughout his life.

Art wasn’t a major player until the eighth grade, the first time he saw a demonstration on a potter’s wheel in the art department of his school.

“It was magic,” Welch says. “I was just floored. I was already handy with my hands. I was always building something out of wood. But they wouldn’t let us take pottery till 10th grade because of safety rules having to do with dexterity and hand/eye coordination.”

Finally, he was old enough to have a seat at the wheel. “I loved it,” he said. “Meanwhile, I struggled with everything else. I had started skipping school a little, experimenting with pot and the things adolescents tend to do. The principal (he remembered her name — Ann Monday) pulled me into the office and said, ‘What will we do?’ I said, ‘Let me take two pottery classes.’ By my senior year, I was taking three, which wasn’t usually allowed.”

With pottery taking up half of his school day, Welch quickly became proficient in clay. “In my junior year, I sold $1,800 worth of pottery,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’ll be a millionaire!’ I bought a wheel.”

Welch begins an interview by warning his visitor, “I like to talk.” And talk he does — tracing his background from a childhood in

Welch laughs at the memory of his get-rich plans. Instead, he drove across the country with friends in a Volkswagen van (which he is currently restoring), and fell in love with Ashland, Oregon. When it came time to further


his education, he settled on Southern Oregon State College. “But the ceramics program there wasn’t so good,” he says. It was time to move on.

Next was Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “That school is amazing for ceramics. It’s in the mountains,” Welch says. “My sister was living nearby, and she was a single mother. So, it was a good place for me to be. I finished college there. I spent morning, afternoon, and night on ceramics. Total dedication.”

But Welch also found time to develop a deep interest in Native American art. “I call it the Dances with Wolves syndrome, where you idealize cultures other than your own,” he says.

“I met natives and learned more about their culture. I was fascinated.”

He traveled to Alaska to further his interest. “I found Nathan Jackson, a guy in Ketchikan who makes jewelry and takes on non-native apprentices,” he says. Jackson, who also creates totem poles, is considered among the most important living artists in Alaska.

“I stayed a week,” Welch continues. “And I went back summers for eight years, living in his garage and carving totem poles. I worked in a grocery store at night. I became very close with him and his wife. He actually married my wife Rachel and I.”

Welch continued his work in ceramics, eventually enrolling in graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University, which is highly rated for its ceramics program.

“It was a very academic approach, different from what I was used to,” he says. “It pushed me to read and find out what they were talking about. I got really interested in critical theory and philosophy. I was able to start thinking rather than making. I decided

to be a kind of bridge between the two. I saw an opportunity to be an intermediary. I wanted it to be put to some purpose. I transitioned into being an art critic, writing in ceramics journals.”

Welch and his wife next moved to Brooklyn for her work, and he applied to 32 different colleges for teaching jobs. None panned out. “So I did odd jobs in New York,” he says. “One was at Greenwich House Pottery in Greenwich Village, where I started as a student liaison. I did secretarial work, construction, all kinds of things. I gave up searching for teaching jobs, though through knowing someone I did teach at Kingsborough Community College for a while.”

Greenwich House Pottery, which honored Welch this past fall, has been a major influence on his work. He was its director for a decade.

“More than half of my ceramics life was shaped by that place,” he says. “It showed and shaped my sense of what it takes to be in a community. I cut my teeth on it there. I raised the number of students, classes, and revenue. They had had an absentee director before me. I learned what not to be, which is absent. I immersed myself in all the things she had ignored, and I started teaching there too, so I’d be informed.”

As their family expanded, Welch and his wife moved to Hightstown, and commuted to New York City. “It was four hours a day. I felt like I was building a community for someone else,” he says. “That’s when I started as a lecturer at the Lewis Center [at Princeton University], while still at Greenwich House.”

14 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023
march 2023 PRINCETON MAGAZINE | 15
Princeton Porchfest. (Photo by Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy) Día de los Muertos celebration. (Photo by Priyanka Madia) Ceramics studio at Arts Council of Princeton. (Photo by Karin Belgrave) Día de los Muertos celebration. (Photo by Priyanka Madia) Littlebrook Elementary School mural. (Photo by Arts Council of Princeton)

Soon, Welch had two exhibits of his ceramics at the Arts Council. When longtime director Jeff Nathanson left at the end of 2016, he applied for the job, but didn’t even get a phone call. The position became available again when Nathanson’s successor Taneshia Nash Laird departed in 2018, and Jim Levine [currently the director of Princeton Makes] took over as interim executive director. Welch decided to try again.

“It was nine months before I heard back,” he says. “But then COVID hit. They interviewed me during that time. I told Rachel that this was the only place I could see leaving Greenwich House for. I got the job. I miss Greenwich House, but I’ve never wanted to go back.”

Among those who recommended Welch was Ross Wishnick, founder of Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP).

“I did recommend him, several times,” Wishnick says. “I had met him at a fundraiser in Hightstown and asked him if he’d be interested in helping create some bowls for our fundraiser. He did, and since then has always been so supportive of what we’re doing. He’s an interested and caring guy, and the stuff he makes is phenomenal. I had a sense that Adam was the right fit for them. From what I can see, I was right.”

Since signing on in September 2020, Welch and his staff have worked to create increasingly inclusive

programming, both inside and out. “I love this building,” he says. “And I love the idea of public art as well. I love museums and galleries, but public art is one of the great equalizers. It’s for everyone — people who are trained, and ‘normal’ people who aren’t integrated into this secret code.”

Put off by the white and mint green walls when he arrived, Welch painted the inside of the building in several hues. “I said, ‘Let’s have some color!’” he says. “We’re doing a lot of investment in the building. I tell the board, ‘This will pay back!’ I’m walking around and getting out and making stuff. The staff is energized.”

Welch’s dedication to inclusivity is appreciated by members of the surrounding community.

“He is what I would call a godsend to both the municipality and the Arts Council,” says Councilman Leighton Newlin, who lives in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. “Wow, did the neighborhood get the benefit of the home run that the board created when they selected him. He’s open and accessible. He’s an idea guy who doesn’t just look around and see all the good that’s been done. He sees that, but also looks for holes in programs. That bodes well for a programmingcentric community that is trying to build community through the arts.”

Newlin continues, “He has always given the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association

access to the building for meetings. It goes beyond that. It speaks to the long history of the building and its African American heritage with regards to the colored YMCA. It makes people who live in this neighborhood feel at home again in the building, where for some time they have not.”

Welch is proud of initiatives like Porchfest, which debuted last April in place of Communiversity; the ART OF series; Interwoven Stories; the Princeton Sketchbook Club; and the Arts Council’s ever-expanding public art program, including the rotating murals on Spring Street.

“We want two-way conversations,” he says. “We are really conscious of bringing things back to the town. So, things like Day of the Dead and Sauce for the Goose are held outside on Paul Robeson Place, instead of inside the building. We’ll do another Market in May before Mother’s Day. We don’t have food or drink, because we have a whole town here with great places to go, and we want to encourage that.”

Newlin got a sampling of Welch’s energy when he happened to drive by the Arts Council building one day and saw him outside, blowing leaves.

“I thought, here’s a man for all seasons,” says Newlin. “He gets the community. And he has really hit the ground running as a true ambassador of the arts.”

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ome 240 years ago, on June 30, 1783, Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson described Princeton in a letter to his wife: “With respect to situation, convenience, and pleasure I do not know a more agreeable spot in America.”

A few months later he secondguessed championing Princeton as the new home of Congress. On October 16, he wrote, “I begin to be afraid we shall be tied down for the winter to this uncomfortable village.”

In the months in between, Princeton enjoyed a fleeting moment in the limelight as the nation’s capital, and despite a shortage of housing, a hot summer, and the lack of city conveniences, the town secured a place in history.

As Princetonians rose to the challenges of accommodating and feeding Confederation Congress delegates and guests, they enjoyed the A-list of visitors, which included George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson albeit for one night on November 4, after Congress had adjourned, according to a 1983 New York Times article quoting The Papers of Thomas Jefferson).

It was in Princeton, which was still battlescarred, where Congress learned that the Treaty of Paris had been signed, which officially ended the American Revolution.

Thomson’s letters to his wife in the book Congress at Princeton: Being the Letters of Charles Thomson to Hannah Thomson, June-October 1783, edited by Eugene R. Sheridan and John M. Murrin, help bring the period to life. (Princeton University Library acquired the letters in 1983 and they were published by Friends of the Princeton University Library in 1985.)

Thomson’s letters and other accounts show that all in all, it was an exciting time in Princeton. Annis Stockton, the recent widow of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton, and hostess at their Morven home, missed the whirlwind social life when Congress adjourned. In a letter to delegate Jacob Read, dated February 7-12, 1784, she speculated about the departure of Benjamin Hawkins from Congress, and chastised members of Congress for indulging in some gambling. She wrote, “… and give me all the tete, a tete, of Anapolis, I hope you will get the fever and ague in the Spring and be shaken into a remembrance of the hights of Princeton, or those above the sweet banks of Delaware you were all a parcel of scurvy fellows for leaving of us...”

Clearly, she missed the company. “Sent just a few months after they adjourned from Princeton, I think the letter really demonstrates how much those few months meant to Annis and Princeton,” says Elizabeth Allan, deputy director and curator at Morven, which holds the letter. “She is eager to get the latest news and misses having the members of Congress around.

“The summer and fall of 1783 presents a funto-imagine moment in history where Princeton served as the backdrop to an unsettled chapter in the fledgling nation’s history,” says Allan. “To the delight of some, and the frustration of others, the small town did its best to rise to the occasion by housing and entertaining members of Congress through the hot summer months. We know that Annis Boudinot Stockton relished the role of hostess at Morven during the period — gaining a front row seat to the politics of the day.”

Annis Stockton wasn’t the only one who was impressed. Student Ashbel Green, who later became the eighth president of Princeton University, wrote to his father on July 5, 1783: “The pace of things is inconceivably altered in Princeton within a fortnight…. From a little obscure village, we have become the capital of America! Instead of almost total silence in town, nothing is to be seen or heard but the passing and rattling of wagons, coaches, and chairs or the crying about of pineapples, oranges, lemons, and every luxurious article both foreign and domestic.” (The letter is quoted in several articles and books, including Varnum Lansing Collins’ Continental Congress at Princeton, published by The University Library at Princeton in 1908.)

Historian Stephanie Schwartz, curator of collections and research at the Historical Society of Princeton, feels that the four months that Princeton was capital of the U.S. was an honor. “It adds a layer to Princeton history,” she says. “Maybe it wasn’t as

Opposite: George Washington (1732-1799) in front of Nassau Hall by Edward Percy Moran. (Wikimedia Commons) A 1760 engraving of Nassau Hall. (Wikipedia)

remarkable as it seems, given that so many towns served as the capital during this time, but it still feels pretty special.”

Prequel and Beginning

Princeton was one of eight U.S. capitals before Washington, D.C., although technically some were capitals of the colonies. Congress met in Philadelphia (several times); Baltimore; New York City; Lancaster, Pa.; York, Pa.; Annapolis, Md. (directly after Princeton); and Trenton (in the French Arms Tavern which stood at what is now Warren and State streets).

Princeton history enthusiast Barry Singer, who leads walking tours for the Princeton Historical Society, and offers talks, including on Princeton as the nation’s capital, says that “like any good story, this has a beginning, middle, and end — even a prequel. In the middle are Princetonians.”

Many of the original letters and documents are attributed in a booklet published by Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton 1783, The Nation’s Capital by former Morven curator Anne Gossen, which was published for the 225th anniversary of Princeton as the nation’s capital (and is available through Morven).

Following the first Continental Congress, which

met in Philadelphia in September 1774, many delegates to the second Continental Congress, which convened in May 1775, had only recently heard about the April 1775 battles of Lexington and Concord. The Congress of the Confederation (under the Articles of Confederation, ratified by all 13 states in 1781) met from 1781 to 1789, including in Princeton, following the American Revolution.

“When the war ended in 1781,” says Singer, “the country entered into a perilous time. The states did not want to give power to the federal government. They had just overthrown an oppressor. Some say Congress moved to try to call attention to the lack of power.”

In a 1983 article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, historian and author Constance Escher (referencing the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress Project at George Washington University) explains that Congress had proponents of strong state governments and those favoring a stronger federal government. Meanwhile, soldiers, who were tired and had not been paid, decided to demonstrate at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on June 21, expecting to find it empty. But soldiers and Congressmen came face to face, because of a special meeting, describes Escher, author of She Calls Herself Betsey Stockton: The Illustrated Odyssey of a Princeton Slave.

Enter Elias Boudinot IV, 10th president of Congress, who strongly pitched Princeton as a safer place for Congress to meet. Boudinot was no stranger to Princeton. His sister, Annis Stockton, was conveniently living at Morven. Boudinot himself was married to Hannah Stockton, Richard’s sister.

Boudinot, who had previously lived in Princeton, served as a trustee of the College of New Jersey (which became Princeton University) from 1772 to 1821. His portrait by Charles Wilson Peale hangs in the Princeton University Art Museum. The Morven booklet notes that Boudinot’s father’s silversmith shop was also the Princeton post office. Fellow signer John Witherspoon was president of the college. Later director of the U.S. Mint, Boudinot, according to the Morven booklet, was “a prominent philanthropist, and an outspoken advocate of Native American rights.”

He set off on June 24, 1783 for Princeton, which had already been a major player in the American Revolution, as the Battle of Princeton helped turn the tide.

The logisTics

Philadelphia was then the country’s largest, most cosmopolitan center, wrote Escher in her 1983 article, “When Princeton was the Nation’s Capital.” “Princeton was too small and too rural to fulfill

24 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023
View of Nassau Hall, Princeton, 1860. (Library of Congress)

Congress’s needs, let alone suit its tastes,” she wrote. “Princeton was a war-ravaged village of only 50 to 60 houses and not more than 300 people.”

“Princeton was a small rural college town,” says Singer. The main meeting place for Congress was Nassau Hall, built in 1756, which stood in a grassy field with the Maclean House to its left, and was the largest stone building in the colonies, according to Princeton University’s Princetoniana website. ThenCollege Vice President Samuel Stanhope Smith presented to Congress a letter on June 26, 1783 offering a hall, library room, or other places for the comfort of the Congress, and Congress accepted on July 2.

Thomson’s first impression of Nassau Hall was disappointment, as he wrote on June 30, “ … as I was led along the entry I passed by the chambers of the students, from whence in the sultry heat of the day issued warm steams from the beds, foul linen & dirty lodgings of the boys. I found the members extremely out of humour and dissatisfied with their situation. They are quartered upon the inhabitants who have put themselves to great inconveniencies to receive them into their houses & furnish them with lodgings, but who are not in a situation to board them.”

The town itself “had a general store, a goldsmith, a dry goods, and clothing merchant, a saddle and harness maker, a shoemaker, a weaver, two tailors, a tannery, and a coach painter who also made chairs. A Presbyterian Church and Quaker Meeting House provided public space,” according to the Morven booklet. “As the halfway stop for the frequent

stagecoaches between Philadelphia and New York, Princeton supplied several taverns and inns but lacked the rental houses and expensive goods Congressmen expected.”

Thomson was said to have stayed at Prospect House, then the home of Col. George Morgan. He complained about the food in his letters: “I have the honor of breakfasting at my lodging, of eating stinking fish and half baked bread and drinking if I please abominable wine at a dirty tavern.”

The housing situation was no better. Thomson wrote on July 4, “You will readily judge what probability there is of finding accommodations in Princeton, when I inform you that it is a small scattered village consisting of about 50 houses most of them low wooden buildings, several of them tumbling to pieces and some new and unfinished….”

Boudinot did much better at Morven. “Town merchants such as Thomas Stockton sought delicacies. His account for President Boudinot included bulk quantities of lamb, veal, sugar, butter, limes spirits, and beer and other foods,” according to the Morven account. Thomson described Morven as “the place where Boudinot keeps his court.”

Town residents offered rooms, but the accommodations were cramped, according to Madison’s and Jefferson’s letters, which are online through the National Archives (and in the multivolume The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Princeton University Press). On August 31, Jefferson asked for “a tolerable birth [sic] wherever they are? At room to myself, if it be but a barrack, is indispensable.” On September 20, Madison wrote, “I am obliged to

write in a position that scarcely admits the use of any of my limbs: Mr. Jones [Virginia delegate Joseph Jones] and myself being lodged in a room not 10 square feet and without a single accommodation for writing.”

Hamilton stayed at The Barracks, a stone house on Edgehill Street owned by Richard Stockton’s father and grandfather. The Barracks also housed Madison, according to the Historical Society of Princeton.

Some stayed at the Bainbridge House. Witherspoon moved to Tusculum Farm on Cherry Hill Road. John Adams passed through and stayed at a tavern. As delegates found what they could, Thomson wrote that the Maryland delegates stayed “about a mile distant on the road to Brunswick. The rest are scattered up and down the village.”

To compound the situation, a heatwave overtook the area that summer. Thomson wrote on July 25 that “the weather was so extremely hot that the passengers suffered greatly. Some of the horses dropped down and died and the rest came in excessively jaded. It was the same with the stages from Elizabethtown, which were obliged to leave the passengers on the road, some of whom walked into this town through the broiling sun and fresh horses were sent to bring in the others.”

The A-lisT

Later that summer Congress requested the presence of George Washington to discuss a peacetime military presence in anticipation of a

march 2023 PRINCETON MAGAZINE | 25
aerial lithograph of Princeton college, Princeton, NJ. (Library of Congress)

signed treaty to end the war. Washington moved into Rockingham House near Rocky Hill on August 23, which would be his last wartime headquarters. Vacant at the time, Rockingham was able to accommodate Washington’s wife, guards, aides, and servants, according to Morven’s record, which noted, “For his remaining three months in Princeton, Washington entertained many dignitaries including his friend Robert Morris, Secretary of Finance; Major General Friedrich von Steuben; and the Chevalier de la Luzerne, the French minister.”

On August 25, escorted by a small troop of cavalry, Washington rode up Nassau Street to the cheers from the sidelines for an official thank you, the Morven booklet notes. While in Princeton, one of the college trustees requested he sit for a portrait with Nassau Hall in the background. That portrait by Charles Wilson Peale is in the Princeton University Art Museum collection.

College commencement on September 24 at the First Presbyterian Church (now Nassau Presbyterian Church) was quite the affair. “Delegates to Congress, George Washington and officers, and foreign luminaires crowded the small campus church. Among the audience were seven signers of the Declaration of Independence, eleven future signers of the Constitution, and two future U.S. presidents,” according to the Morven booklet.

Annis Stockton was a bit of a celebrity in her own right, for her prolific poetry. According to the Mount Vernon library, “She wrote poems to thenContinental Army Commander General George Washington regarding his bravery and leadership and through this became a frequent correspondent to

Washington as he ascended to the presidency.”

Washington’s thank you gift to Princeton links past to present. Mimi Omiecinski, operator of Princeton Tours, who makes local history her specialty, points out a hedge behind Maclean House with a marker that says, “These English Boxwood plants were grown from George Washington’s hedges planted November 1798 on his Mount Vernon Estate.”

Omiecinski also recommends visitors take a look at a plaque at the University’s FitzRandolph Gate that notes: “Meeting Place of Congress, Capitol of the United States, 30 June-4 November 1783.”

What Congress aCComplished in prinCeton

Despite the challenges, Congress’s stay in Princeton was of some significance. While in Princeton, Sweden was the first neutral European county to formally recognize the new nation, as a treaty of commerce was concluded on September 25. And, on October 31, 1783, Dutch Republic Ambassador Pieter Johan Van Berckel presented his credentials to Congress. A Madison letter indicates Congress was somewhat embarrassed having to receive him ‘in an obscure village … and without a Minister of Foreign Affairs,” but it was in Princeton that Congress entertained the first foreign dignitary.

In Princeton, Congress issued a proclamation forbidding American citizens to settle on any western land claimed by Native Americans unless they gave explicit permission. Also, Congress voted that lands to the west would eventually be divided

into separate states, laying the foundation for future states that would be equal to the original 13.

Most significant, Congress was in Princeton when the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, which recognized the new nation’s independence. According to the Morven booklet, news of the signing reached Congress on the final day of its session at Princeton

Congress adjourned on November 4, to meet again in Annapolis on November 26. While in Princeton, Congress debated where to set up a permanent capital, and compromised with Trenton half the year, and Annapolis half the year. But eventually many questioned the wisdom of always moving. Congress moved to New York City until 1790. A site was selected on the banks of the Potomac, and in the interim, Congress met back in Philadelphia until the new capital was ready in the year 1800.

Princeton returned to its former status, but possibly forever changed. Thomson, dining with Boudinot at Morven said that “the people had exerted themselves and put themselves to inconveniences to accommodate the members but it was a burden they could not bear long.”

“It feels almost like a blip that people don’t know, and it shocks people when they learn about it,” says Schwartz of the Historical Society. “It’s a source of pride for Princetonians today. I think it is another thing that enriches Princeton’s importance in national history, that it had the honor of being the capital for a short time.”

26 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023
George Washington by John Trumbull (1780). (Wikipedia) The Battle of Princeton, January 2–3, 1777. (Wikipedia)
FitzRandolph Gate inscription. (Wikipedia) Annis Boudinot Stockton, early 19th century. (Collection of Morven Museum & Garden) A 1764 copper engraving — copied from a drawing by William Tennent, a 1758 alumnus — shows Nassau Hall (at left) as it likely looked in 1783, when Continental Congress met from June to November, received George Washington to convey the thanks of the nation for his service, and also received news of the signing of the Treaty of Paris officially ending the war. To the right is Maclean House. (New Jersey Almanac)
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N S . C O M

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A GlobAl ExchAnGE

o pening Doors for Young Students Through International l anguage Immersion

32 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023

The study of foreign language begun at an early age has been shown to set children up with an undoubted advantage in terms of socialization, critical thinking, memory, and listening abilities. Thankfully, within the greater Princeton area, there are many opportunities to expose children, teens, and young adults to summer camps, schools, and coursework related to foreign language and culture that are exciting and enjoyable. A bilingual education from a young age also increases a person’s overall language learning ability, making it easier to study and acquire additional foreign language aptitudes later in life. Broadening of the mind and seeing the world and the people within it in a global fashion is yet another undeniable positive. Some would argue that with the current environmental and political state of the world, teaching the next generation the art of collaboration and contribution is more important than ever.

Language Learning Opp O rtunities f O r YO ung Chi L dren

The YingHua International School ( in Kingston is a 2.5-yearold through eighth grade private, co-educational learning school that is focused on dual language immersion in Chinese and English. Children are exposed to fellow classmates from various multicultural backgrounds and are given the opportunity to practice Chinese and English language learning in a curriculum that extends from fine arts to sports, musical training to the sciences. YingHua’s celebrated faculty members aim to inspire in children a sense of comfort and ease so that they are more willing to take risks, make mistakes, and try again.

Founder Bonnie Liao says, “When we started, we were the first in our country that followed the International Baccalaureate Curriculum framework and also as a Chinese Mandarin immersion school.” Much of the language learning takes place in an inquiry-based format at YingHua. This means that a child’s natural curiosity is used as a jumping off point for acquiring language aptitude. Students move from one classroom to the next, from indoor to outdoor spaces, and rather than place an emphasis on memorization or competitiveness, they are guided by their own desire to explore. For admissions and general inquiries, email

The French American School of Princeton (FASP) (ecoleprinceton. org) is a pre-K (starting at 30 months) through eighth grade bilingual school that features a dynamic and challenging learning environment that prepares students for success in today’s multicultural world. For more than 20 years, FASP has built a reputation on graduating students who are critical, independent thinkers, and well-rounded global citizens.

Located on a beautiful campus at 75 Mapleton Road in Princeton, FASP’s students, parents, faculty, and staff represent over 30 different countries. FASP believes that children have an innate ability to become bilingual. The benefits of speaking, reading, writing, and thinking in multiple languages and combining the best of French structured learning and American teaching methods are many. Students become bilingual and biliterate in a diverse setting featuring a rigorous curriculum of academics, art, music, physical education, and STEM that encourages self-confidence, creativity, free expression, and mutual respect. For those who would like to schedule a personal tour or simply start a conversation, email admissions@

march 2023 PRINCETON MAGAZINE | 33
c hinese New Year performance at Ying h ua International School. m orning c ircle at Ying h ua International School.

Princeton Day School (PDS) serves as the home to the Princeton Chinese Language School ( ) on Sundays throughout the school year. What are known as “Traditional Classes” are available for pre-K through 10th-grade students who regularly speak some Chinese at home. This is recommended for children of parents who are native speakers. These classes are taught in Chinese with an emphasis on reading and writing. Chinese as a Second Language classes are open to non-native speakers and/ or those who would like to learn Chinese for the first time. This program is open to children ages 4-14 with students being grouped by age rather than by ability. Coursework begins with basic conversation and ascends through reading and writing over time. Culture classes are also a feature of the Princeton Chinese Language School. Primarily for ages 4-10, children can learn Chinese chess, dance, taekwondo, and painting. Culture classes for adults and parents include flower arrangements, basketball, badminton , and adult erhu, all on the PDS campus. For inquiries, contact

For those who might be interested in summer language learning opportunities, PDS typically offers a variety of summer academic classes that can include everything from foreign language immersion to cooking international cuisine to cultural history projects. For updates on 2023 camp offerings, check back regularly at or email Heidi Spillane, director of summer programs, at

Several other private schools in Princeton also offer noteworthy early immersion foreign language programs. This is largely due to each school’s unique philosophy on the importance of introducing foreign language at a very young age, when brains are more receptive to change, growth , and adaptation. Princeton Montessori School (, Stuart School’s Co-ed Preschool Program ( early-childhoodpreschool ), Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart ( ), and Princeton Charter School ( princetoncharter. org ) all introduce some form of world languages between the ages of pre-K and kindergarten. For example, at Princeton Charter School, world language instruction begins in kindergarten and evolves into a full period day of language study in the first grade. This continues through grade eight.

At Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart ( ), Spanish language classes begin in kindergarten, where listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills are developed. Both Lower School (K-4) and Middle School (5-8) students benefit from interdisciplinary instruction. social studies, religion, and art enhance the world language program through the teaching of global awareness, cultural understanding, geography, history, and current events. By studying the people, traditions, and faiths of the world, Princeton Academy students engage and complement their study of Spanish. Princeton Academy’s Spanish educators are native speakers and dedicate themselves to “preparing students to be citizens of the world.” Interested in learning more about Princeton Academy? Begin the admission process by filling out a short inquiry form at .

Princeton Junior School (, an independent school for students ages 2 through sixth grade in Princeton, offers a “Windows to the World” class where children explore what it means to be internationallyminded through a lens of global children’s literature. Spanish instruction is integrated into the school day, with students communicating in real life situations that require the ability to convey important ideas and collaborate with others. In addition to Spanish class, instruction opportunities include Morning Meeting, bilingual read-aloud, during “Learning Through Landscapes” Forest School, and at Spanish-speaking lunch tables. Princeton Junior School has been an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School since August 2015. The transdisciplinary curriculum framework aims to develop well-rounded children with compassion for humanity and the desire to care for our world. For more information, call 609.924.8126 or email

Chapin School’s ( ) Early Education Program includes Pre-K Explorers and Kindergarten groups. These 3- to 5-year-old students experience world language instruction in the form of Spanish and Mandarin. This , combined with music, art, library, co-curricular activities with small and large group classes, technology, and physical education classes, certainly makes for a dynamic toddler. To learn more, visit chapinschool. org/admission/inquire.

French American School of Princeton.
Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. (Photo by Monica Vogel) St. Paul School. (Photo by Kait Mayer) French American School of Princeton. Princeton Day School. (Photo by Bob Handelman) Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart.

The Wilberforce School ( ) is unusual in that it teaches Latin classes in the beginning of Class Three in the Lower School. Students learn the structure of language through the study of Latin vocabulary and grammatical forms. Memorization and chants are said to enliven the children and prepare them for the continual study of Latin at Wilberforce through the later years when lengthy readings and translations will be in order. Although Latin might seem an outdated form of language instruction, it is in keeping with Wilberforce’s instruction in the Bible, hymns, chants, and rhetoric. For admissions information, call 609.924.6111.

St. Paul School’s ( ) traditional core curriculum includes Spanish instruction beginning in preschool. Classrooms are divided into PK Little Cubs (3-year-olds) and PK 4 Little Lions (4-year-olds). St. Paul School has set a standard for Catholic coeducation for the past 130 years. Students graduate in grade eight and have shown exceptional preparedness at area high schools and/or boarding schools. Latin language and reading instruction are introduced as a supplemental program in grades six through eight. For admissions questions, email Michele Cano, director of admissions and advancement, at

Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science (PRISMS) is exclusively for day and boarding students in grades nine through 12. Although it is a high school, rather than an example of a pre-K or kindergarten model of foreign language education, it is undeniable that the school stands as an example of international excellence. The curriculum, like the name of the school, is indicative of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics study. The core features of the school are research projects, scientific concepts, language arts, industry, and innovation, all woven together.

PRISMS Principal Matthew Pearce says, “By the time our students leave this school, we expect them to have a true sense of confidence and self-worth that will empower them to pursue not only personal interests , but also goals that would benefit their community and society at large. By understanding and respecting the differences of others they can address local and global problems in a creative and ethical manner.”

For admissions inquiries, visit


A local private school is not the only place in Princeton to introduce your child to another culture or way of thinking. Princeton’s highly-rated public school district offers many roadmaps to foreign language instruction that can appeal to different learners. Beginning in grade two, students are introduced to Spanish. The language is interwoven throughout the curriculum, three to four days per week. Several Princeton Public Schools elementary schools offer Spanish instruction in kindergarten.

By the time students arrive at Princeton Middle School they are given the option to continue with Spanish or switch to French. If they want, seventh grade students may add Mandarin Chinese coursework to their Spanish or French language classes. The Mandarin course meets five days per week from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m.

At the Princeton High School level, six world languages are offered. These include Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Mandarin, and Japanese. Students can choose to take one or more languages from grades nine through 12.


Princeton Public Library ( ) offers a Chinese Book Group and world language story times for young children in everything from Russian to Spanish. There are also adult virtual or in-person language learning options in over 12 languages including Korean. Additionally, the library’s world cinema collection broadens cultural understanding through the art of film.

Berlitz Princeton Language Center ( princeton ) has courses for kids, teens, and adults. Programs are either virtual or in person . All classes are taught by native fluent speakers. The flexible learning options are well-suited to full-time students and working adults.

No matter what route you or your child takes towards world language learning, recognize that it is also a path to better cross-cultural understanding.

Allons-y (“Let’s go”)!


Get off the beaten path and discover authentic Spain. Summer 2023

Athena Spain is an authentic Spanish language immersion experience for high school students who are ready to improve their Spanish by going beyond tourism for a summer like no other. The program runs during the month of July and is a highly personalized language and cultural immersion experience. Groups are small by design and allow for close attention throughout the entire program. Athena participants acquire an in depth understanding of the Spanish language and the diverse nature of Spanish culture by being completely integrated into Spanish life. Students return home with a true sense of global citizenship that lasts a lifetime.

The program take place in the beautiful coastal town of Conil, in the province of Cádiz and combines a four-week homestay experience with dynamic classroom-based language study, daily activities and weekend excursions throughout Andalusia. Daily language instruction helps students communicate effectively and form special relationships with host families and new Spanish friends. Students experience real-life immersion in Spanish life and culture to achieve fluency and confidence in Spanish and gain a deep understanding and appreciation for Spain’s rich history and traditions.

For the right student, there is nothing quite like it.

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A Closer look at IVF in the Modern era

40 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023
Images courtesy of

hen people begin to think of fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization (IVF) most likely comes quickly to mind.

That’s because the procedure of fertilizing an egg and sperm outside of the body in a petri dish and then placing it inside the uterus has clinically been practiced since 1978.

People pursue IVF for many reasons According to, some of the most common include advanced maternal age, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis, low sperm count (or other sperm impairments), polycystic ovarian syndrome (commonly referred to as PCOS), uterine fibroids, problems with the uterus, risk of passing on a genetic abnormality, or for the use of an egg donor or a gestational surrogate. Not to be overlooked are the many times that women struggle to conceive even when there is no foreseeable reason.

Sarah, a Princeton native, learned of her infertility issues when she was just 32 years old. “I found out that I needed IVF when I got fertility testing done at age 32 to try to donate eggs to a family member,” she says. “My AMH and FSH showed that I had diminished ovarian reserve and was possibly even perimenopausal. Instead of donating eggs, they recommended that I take steps to preserve my own fertility as soon as possible.”

One of the modern realities of IVF is that single men and women or same sex men and women across the world would like to experience the exceptional love and devotion of being a parent, even if they aren’t in a traditional marriage or relationship.

Area resident Jessie says, “I am in a same sex marriage and wanted to start a family. We are so lucky to live in New Jersey where fertility coverage is mandated if you work in certain jobs. Still, being a same sex couple, insurance is a very gray area. Thankfully for us, our insurance provider covered our entire process.”

These changing demographics and societal norms, combined with people simply having children later in life, means that the IVF process itself has had to adapt and change. Today’s clinics (especially those in metropolitan areas) are now well-versed in aligning the IVF process with an individual patient’s needs and goals.


The options for single women seeking to grow a family (or “chosen moms” as they are sometimes called), have dramatically grown in recent years. In fact, there are several different routes that they can take. If a woman does not

want to begin IVF immediately, but does want a child at some point, she may consider freezing her eggs. It is scientific fact that the quality of a woman’s eggs decreases as she ages.

According to the Fertility Institute of New Jersey & New York, egg quality is paramount to a successful pregnancy. As noted on, “By her mid-30s, her chances of achieving pregnancy decreases, while the rates of miscarriage and abnormalities rise.… Your frozen eggs can give you peace of mind that you can attempt to achieve pregnancy at a time that is right for you.”

The egg freezing process begins with a woman taking hormones for 10 to 12 days, stimulating the ovaries to develop as many mature eggs as possible. For women under the age of 35, most doctors recommend freezing anywhere from 15 to 20 eggs. A surgical procedure with anesthesia is required to retrieve the eggs. Women over the age of 35 will most likely have fewer healthy, mature eggs to

freeze, but that is part of the IVF process, which can be repeated as needed ( ). Eggs can be kept frozen for many years. Once a person is ready to use the eggs to become pregnant, they must be thawed, fertilized with her partner’s or donor’s sperm, and then the resulting embryos are placed back within the woman’s uterus. This whole process typically takes place over a span of five days.

If a woman becomes pregnant through IVF, but still has leftover frozen embryos she does not want to keep for future IVF attempts, she has the option of donating them to research or to couples or individuals trying to build their own family. A couple or individual may use a donated embryo because they don’t want to pass on genetic traits to their children. Embryo donations may be open (the person’s name and information is known) or anonymous.

Sarah, who went through the IVF process, points out that “embryos can be a little hardier than eggs and are more likely to survive the


freeze and thaw. You can also be more assured of their quality and likelihood of resulting in a child since embryos can be graded and tested for chromosomal abnormalities…. We transferred our first embryo in March of 2022 and were very lucky that our first transfer worked. We now have a precious 2-monthold baby girl, and we’re hoping to use our remaining embryos to have one or two more children if our luck holds out.”

A same sex male couple might be interested in the path of using donated eggs, embryos, or the process of finding a gestational carrier. On a somewhat similar note, a lesbian couple may want more information on the IVF process as well as finding a sperm donor. One of the first steps a doctor will take when working with any same sex couple is collecting medical history, discussing the couple’s fertility goals (such as how many children they are ultimately looking to have in their future family) , and testing each partner’s fertility. For example, one man or

woman may have better fertility indicators than the other. This may result in using one person’s sperm or eggs over their partner’s.

Donor sperm will need to be selected in some cases. Even for a man and wife looking to start a family, using a sperm donor is not unheard of if the husband’s sperm is not able to fertilize a healthy egg. If the sperm donor is not a friend or relation of some sort, a nationally recognized sperm bank is the best option. Similar to frozen egg and embryo donors, sperm donors may choose to remain anonymous.

So, what is the average cost of an IVF cycle? As noted on, “the average cost of a single IVF cycle in the U.S. is between $10,000 and $15,000, and is dependent upon insurance coverage, patient characteristics, and the treatment center.”

New Jersey is home to 19 fertility clinics with 39 different locations. Location, doctors, IVF price, and success rates are all important factors to consider when choosing which

clinic to work with, chiefly because the patient will have to drive to the location regularly (sometimes multiple times per week) and speak with the doctors and nurses on a very frequent basis as they are guided through the five steps of IVF.

IVF Step-by-Step

The IVF process is very regimented and strategic, but the length of time that it lasts is complicated and depends upon how a woman’s body and psyche react to the process. It’s easy to overlook what kind of emotional toll the act of injecting oneself with hormones can take on a person’s mental health and physical wellbeing. Moodiness, exhaustion, physical fatigue, constipation, bloating , and weight gain are not uncommon. Also, the anticipation of wanting a perfect outcome can be an emotional waiting game with no final guarantee of conceiving a child. That being said, from the start of the

42 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023 Images courtesy of

first round of IVF to the end of the first round typically takes four to six weeks, according to

After meeting with her fertility doctor and doing diagnostic testing, a woman will begin the act of ovarian stimulation. Most healthy women have a menstrual cycle between 28 and 35 days. During this time, hormone levels undergo regular changes and one of the ovaries releases a mature egg with the possibility of fertilization. The five days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after ovulation are the times at which a woman is most likely to get pregnant. Sperm can live for up to three to five days within a woman’s body, so knowing when a person is ovulating is key to understanding fertility. If the egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates and leaves the body (along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus). This is what is commonly referred to as menstruation.

During IVF, the woman will take hormone injections (a common injection site is the abdomen) to encourage her body to produce a larger number of eggs with the goal being that they will all mature fully. The ovaries’ response to the medication will be tracked by ultrasounds and monitoring blood hormone levels. The ovarian stimulation process lasts between eight and 14 days. During an ultrasound, the physician will look at the health of the woman’s

uterus and ovaries but, most importantly, they are also tracking the growing ovarian follicles. Follicles are small sacs within the ovaries that should each contain a growing egg. The size of each follicle indicates the maturity of each egg. Right before the process of egg retrieval, the woman will give herself a trigger shot. This shot is to be taken exactly 36 hours before the egg retrieval procedure and is the final step in the egg maturation process.

Sarah says, “The hormones affect all women differently. For me, the medications during the IVF retrievals actually made me feel really good, but the come downs in between cycles wreaked havoc on my mental health. The sudden and dramatic drops in estrogen made me depressed and anxious and made my hair fall out in clumps.”

For the egg retrieval, a woman will be placed under sedation as a physician uses an ultrasound to guide a thin needle into the woman’s ovaries through the vagina. The eggs are sucked out through the needle’s retrieval device and placed in a dish containing a special solution. The dish and fully formed eggs will undergo incubation, and the following day the embryologist will attempt to fertilize the eggs by injecting sperm into each egg. Over the next five to seven days, the emerging embryos will be closely monitored. If multiple blastocyst embryos result, the woman or

couple may choose to freeze them for a later date. Blastocyst embryos are a specific type of fertilized embryo that only 50 percent of fertilized eggs reach. These are the only type of embryos that will be transferred back into a woman’s body (

A woman will then begin the embryo transfer stage when she will either be given a fresh or frozen embryo transfer. A fresh embryo transfer means that the blastocyst embryos formed in the past three to seven days and were never frozen. A frozen embryo transfer simply means that these embryos were at one time frozen and have now thawed. In preparation for the embryo transfer, a woman will take oral, injectable, transdermal , or vaginal hormones to prepare her uterus. This is usually 14 to 21 days of oral medication followed by a week of injections. Regular bloodwork and doctor’s appointments at this time will monitor the woman’s reactions to the hormones and the health of her uterus. The embryo transfer does not typically require anesthesia. The embryos are injected via a catheter and syringe.

Pregnancy is when the embryo implants itself into the lining of the uterus. A physician will do bloodwork around 10 to 14 days after the transfer to verify pregnancy. If pregnancy did not occur, most doctors will advise that a woman complete one full menstrual cycle before trying again. Keep in mind that the body

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Art The Fencing of

“Marvelous” Sport Enjoys Growing Popularity

ong before Paul Epply-Schmidt was a repeat national fencing champion, he grew up pretending to fight.

“At the very young level, you did what I did,” said Epply-Schmidt. “Kids play with sticks and trash can lids, and you think you’re a medieval knight or musketeer. Lots of kids play with things that are supposed to be swords.”

Fencing evolved into a sport out of a war form centuries ago and spread from Europe to North America and Asia. The United States is stronger than ever internationally in the sport as it continues to grow in large part due to increasing youth numbers. New Jersey, which has produced many Olympians, is particularly strong nationally. Fencing clubs and the Princeton YMCA offer local training opportunities for beginners to competitive fencers of all ages and backgrounds.

“What I liked about fencing was you didn’t have to be a particular size or shape,” said Epply-Schmidt. “There are lots of people all kinds of sizes and shapes that find ways to make it work for them. There’s no end to how you can win if you know what to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5-feet tall or 6-feet tall or 200 pounds. I really think that’s one of the great things about it.”

Epply-Schmidt, 62, has been fencing competitively for more than 50 years, and coaching for more than three decades. The Princeton resident fences for Bucks County Academy of Fencing (BCAF) in Lambertville and is one of nine instructors at Sebastiani Fencing Academy in Princeton. After retiring last June from teaching and coaching at Princeton Day School for 33 years, Epply-Schmidt won men’s foil, one of the three fencing weapons, in the 60-69 Veterans age division at the 2022 USA Fencing National Championships last July in Minneapolis, Minn. It was his second straight year at the top of the podium. The win qualified him to represent the United States at the 2022 Veteran World Fencing Championships in Zadar, Croatia, last October.

“I’ve been trying to get on the U.S. team for years,” said Epply-Schmidt. “On the third time, I finally got to compete.”

A family emergency forced him to miss his first time after qualifying for worlds in 2014 in men’s foil 50-59, and the COVID-19 pandemic cost him his second chance in 2021. But his third time was the charm with a seventh-place finish in the world championship. He could go for a third straight title this summer at the national championships in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I see these guys in their 70s and 80s still fencing there,” said Epply-Schmidt. “You get a sheet when you win and you take it up to the bout committee to score it, and they’re just as excited as any 20-year-old. It’s really kind of fun.”

The sport’s governing body, USA Fencing, has welcomed enormous growth in the last 40 years, particularly among young fencers, and

New Jersey, which has the largest division of USA Fencing, is among the top areas to fence thanks to a long history of high school programs and strong instruction from European fencing masters who immigrated to the area and brought their expertise to clubs. A USA Fencing release states that the country had only 50 members under the age of 15 in the early 1980s. That age range has closer to 15,000 now and is on the rise again after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

“Any time a movie comes out that involves any swordplay we get a little bit of a bump in attendance, whether it’s Star Wars , The Mark of Zorro , or The Three Musketeers ,” said Mark Holbrow. “Also, when the Olympics are on, and they show fencing on television, we usually get a bump up in sign-ups.”

Holbrow is founder and fencing master at BCAF, which also has a location in Hatfield, Pa. When the former Princeton University assistant

coach opened BCAF at its original location in New Hope, Pa., in January 1981, it was the only game in town, and even nationally there were very few fencing clubs. He’s watched more people discover the sport and more opportunities open.

“It’s a fascinating sport,” said Holbrow. “It’s a great strategy sport. It’s got the reputation of being the chess game of the athletic arena. It’s great exercise, and it’s great fun and it has a fabulous history and it’s a good individual sport. And being an indoor sport, you can do it year-round.”

Sebastiani Fencing Academy (SFA), named for former Princeton University and U.S. Olympic team coach Michael Sebastiani, opened in Princeton in 2000. Like BCAF, it now has around 200 members. SFA offers a range of classes from beginners (nicknamed “Little Musketeers”) to veterans, any fencer aged 40 or older. Some in their 70s and 80s have returned to

Sebastiani Coach Paul Epply-Schmidt. (Photo by Sebastiani Fencing Academy) (Photo courtesy of

the sport after decades-long breaks. Others are parents who signed up their children to fence, but then tried the sport themselves.

“We have an adult class that meets on Friday and has a blast,” said Sebastiani owner and founder Gabrielle Roux. “Whether they’re pure beginners or did it in college and realized it is available to them, they really enjoy it. Some people get tired with their usual workout and going to the gym and say, ‘fencing is an amazing workout and it’s fun.’”

Swordplay goes back thousands of years to a depiction in a relief found in an Egyptian temple built by Ramses III in 1190 BCE. Swords were commonly used by ancient Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans and remained popular in warfare and as a way to settle disputes violently through the Middle Ages until the 14th century.

The German fencing guild Marxbrüder led a training movement that swept across Europe in the 15th century before the Italians’

emphasis on using the point of the sword rather than the blade helped develop fencing into a more skilled form of fighting. Late in the 17th century, the French ushered in a new form of dress that necessitated the use of a shorter rapier.

In the second half of the 18th century Domenico Angelo extolled fencing as a graceful form of exercise and sport rather than combat. The Italian fencing master opened a fencing school in London that catered to aristocrats and notably accepted women. His 1763 book L’École des armes (The School of Fencing) outlined and importantly illustrated fencing form still in use today. Masks also were introduced in the 18th century to further safety. Toward the end of the 19th century, the French fencing master Camille Prévost set forth rules and fencing began to emerge as a competitive sport.

The Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms in London in 1880 was the first formal fencing competition. Fencing was contested collegiately starting in 1894. Fencing is one of five sports that has been at every modern Summer Olympics since 1896 along with athletics, cycling, gymnastics, and swimming.

“People have a hard time understanding it’s not just fighting,” said Roux, who grew up fencing in France. “Anybody can take a stick and fight.

It’s the finesse

and the technique you acquire. How you move the sword, but really with the finesse. If you don’t have that, you don’t get to a higher level of competition.”

The three disciplines of fencing — epee, foil, and saber — are characterized by their styles and different rules, in particular how each scores points by hits or touches of their weapon in the one-on-one bouts. Foil and saber are weapons of convention and use a right-of-way rule that rewards a point to the fencer with the initiative if both fencers touch each other at the same time with their weapon. In competition, a referee determines right of way to award a point.

Saber fencers can score by striking their opponent anywhere above the waist, a nod to the weapon’s background in cavalry. Saber matches tend to be fast moving with aggressive attacks.

“Saber bouts are over very quickly,” said EpplySchmidt. “So if people are not necessarily patient, they may opt for that.”

Foil scores by touching only the torso. It is more stylized than the other two weapons because it was spawned out of the use of practice weapons in the 19th century rather than actual dueling swords.

“There’s kind of an artistic flourish that goes with foil that doesn’t always come with the others,” said Epply-Schmidt.

Epee bouts tend to take longer, though fencers can score with a touch anywhere on their opponent. There is no right of way, so the first epeeist to touch is awarded the point.

“Both fencers are usually very cautious — trying to create a situation or wait for their opponent to make a mistake without making one themselves so they can hit first,” said Sam Blanchard, Princeton High School (PHS) head coach. “It’s like they’re going into a high stakes chess game, which takes a while.”

(Photo by Sebastiani Fencing Academy)
(Photo courtesy of
A lesson with Maitre Sebastiani. (Photo by Sebastiani Fencing Academy)

New Jersey has produced some of the top fencers in the country, with 20 percent of the U.S. team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics hailing from the Garden State. The area has seen growth thanks to the addition of fencing programs in local high schools. Princeton Day School, The Hun School, and The Lawrenceville School all have long-established programs dating back decades. The West WindsorPlainsboro high schools, Montgomery High School, and most recently PHS 11 years ago added fencing programs to a high school fencing-rich state.

“That grew fencing in the area tremendously,” said Roux. “It became very popular, and clubs started to pop up everywhere.”

Fencing is popular enough locally that the Princeton branch is the only YMCA in the Greater Somerset County group that supports a fencing program. About 30 fencing students are part of the Y program that Blanchard said is unusual for being a community program that also has developed several

epee crown at the NJSIAA state tournament in March 2022. He only began fencing five years ago after taking a lesson in fifth grade. He tried a fencing camp while visiting relatives in China that piqued his interest and opened his eyes to his potential. He started fencing more seriously in sixth grade at Wanglei International Fencing Club in Plainsboro, where he balances his training time along with training and practice bouts at Medeo Fencing Club in Bridgewater.

“Fencing for me is a fun way to relax,” said He. “I don’t think of it as a chore or job or task, but that it’s fun and like a video game. Going to practice is fun. Going to that tournament was a bit more stressful, but also fun. At the end, it was a surprise, and it was a culmination and really fun and worth it as well.”

Fencers need the basics of a mask, jacket, foil, and glove to start, and can rent or buy equipment. The highest level of equipment can be quite

Even though the students were in their basement or room, they were able to keep their skills fresh and technique without fencing anyone.”

Of course, many fencers look forward to the opportunity to compete at divisional, regional, and national levels. Divisions are broken up by age from youth up through veterans, and by classification level of expertise. Competitions are deeper than ever, and tournaments can have upwards of 200 competitors in a division as more and more are exposed to the sport.

“The advent of YouTube has changed everything,” said Epply-Schmidt. “You were lucky to get 30 minutes of fencing at 2 in the morning during the Olympics. Now it’s all over YouTube. You can look at it and analyze it and that’s helped the growth as well.”

Epply-Schmidt has no plans to stop fencing, which has held a significant part in his life as an

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54 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE march 2023


The words of the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University serve as

during turbulent times

lthough a small country (population 5 million), Ireland has produced some of the world’s finest writers, from James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Becket to Iris Murdoch, Seamus Heaney, Edna O’Brien, Colm Tóibín, Elizabeth Bowen, William Trevor … we could be reciting the names of writers for as long as it takes to read Joyce’s Ulysses aloud.

If non-fiction writers are admitted to the pack, The Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole would be among them. He is considered one of the Emerald Isle’s leading public intellectuals. In 2011, The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals.”

The literary and drama critic, historical writer, and political commentator is also a critic of political corruption and negative attitudes toward immigration. “Race, sex, and immigration are closely entwined in the Irish story,” he said in a March 2022 talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, and The Guardian , as well as a member of the Royal Irish Academy who is at work on the official biography of Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, O’Toole is the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University.

This semester, O’Toole is teaching Modern Irish Theatre: Oscar Wilde to Martin McDonagh to Riverdance, exploring the ways in which Irish theater transforms every few decades, “from Wilde and Shaw’s subversions of England to the search of Yeats and Synge for an authentic rural Ireland,” according to the course description.

of 100 objects that have played a significant role in shaping that country are accompanied by their stories. Ornamental treasures such as the Book of Kells, the 8th century Ardagh Chalice, and a chair by modernist furniture designer Eileen Gray are given equal weight as the bloodstained shirt of Irish revolutionary James Connolly and a 1950s washing machine.

O’Toole’s most recent book, We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, was named Book of the Year in the 2021 Irish Book Awards and one of the top 10 books of 2022 by The New York Times. The New Yorker compared it to “a great tragicomic Irish novel, rich in memoir and record, calamity and critique. The book contains funny and terrible things” with “details and episodes so pungent.”

“My life is too boring for a memoir,” O’Toole wrote in the afterword, “and there is no shortage of modern Irish history. But it happens that my life does in some ways both span and mirror a time of transformation.”

He has written on topics from Brexit to the American War in Afghanistan. Among the two dozen books O’Toole has published is A History of Ireland in 100 Objects, in which photographs

That life began in 1958. His earliest significant memory was in 1966 when his mother, a factory worker who managed the family’s life at home, awoke in the night to a loud explosion. Nelson’s Pillar, a symbol of British oppression in the heart of Dublin (it had honored British naval commander Horatio Pillar), had been blown up by an IRA splinter group. The following morning O’Toole’s father, a bus conductor, boarded them on public transit to go and view the wreckage.

“He said it was a big thing, an event we

a balm
Opposite: Fintan O’Toole. (Photography by Ben Russell, Princeton University)

should remember,” writes O’Toole. “It was the first time I was conscious of pure memory, of the idea that something you had in your head was now gone forever.”

O’Toole grew up in a time when his country was one of the poorest in Western Europe. Following World War II, two-thirds of homes lacked electricity. Shortly after his parents married, in order to move to their new abode, they had to pack all their belongings onto a cart and walk it eight miles.

“We never had a car or a foreign holiday,” O’Toole told The Independent . His father “worked two shifts a day, seven days a week, for 40 years so we could be well-dressed, well-fed, and they could pay the rent.”

During the Marshall Plan, the post-World War II initiative to rebuild Western Europe, Ireland — which had remained neutral during the war — still fell into an economic depression. Writer Frank McCourt’s words come to mind: “Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

O’Toole describes 1950s Ireland as “almost suffocatingly coherent and fixed: Catholic, nationalist, rural.” Free secondary education didn’t come about until 1966.

One of the country’s largest exports was its people. On visiting his ancestral land, John F. Kennedy told an admiring crowd, “Most countries send out oil or iron, steel, or gold, or some other crop, but Ireland has had only one export and that is its people.”

Three in five Irish children raised in the 1950s were destined to leave at some

point in their lives. They left for the blast furnaces and woolen mills of the United States — what O’Toole refers to as voting with their feet. Irish women were almost twice as likely to emigrate as men, traveling on their own. “The idea of disappearance hung over the place,” O’Toole writes.

While some might view living in a stone ediflce on a small hill farm as romantic, Irish people sought the modernity the rest of the world was experiencing. They saw it on American TV, of which they consumed large doses. To them, American Westerns were social realism, writes O’Toole.

Abortion, divorce, and even contraception were illegal during his formative years. O’Toole shows what happens as a result. Says one unwed mother quoted in We Don’t Know Ourselves: “I learned that babies like the one I might have are usually placed in brown paper bags and left in a toilet and I resolved to do this. For that reason, I started to carry around the one penny I would need to get into the toilet to have the baby.”

It is cringe-inducing reading about the many ways in which women and children were oppressed. Until 1980, a woman’s income was considered to be her husband’s money. Even marital rape didn’t become illegal until 1990. “The idea that a wife was not a legally or economically separate person but a mere adjunct to her husband had very deep roots. Within my lifetime, even minimal changes to this idea were bitterly opposed,” O’Toole writes in The Irish Times.

Abuse of boys and girls by priests was so rampant it was overlooked. Because the Catholic Church ran everything, there was no one to tell; parents advised their children to look away.

The Magdalene Laundries, run by Roman Catholic nuns, imprisoned, enslaved, and abused both physically and psychologically more than 10,000 women and girls. It was only after those institutions were shuttered that the bodies of the dead were discovered. O’Toole describes the Laundries as “one of those things that was both known and unknowable.”

An altar boy for four years, O’Toole sought

to please both his religious mother and his less religious father, ultimately finding a place for himself as an atheist. He describes the Catholic Church as the greatest hypocrite of them all. “To hell with God,” he echoes one of the priests at his school.

O’Toole traces history through the lenses of personal experiences, theater, literature, and Ireland’s plumbing and flush toilets. “Love, honor, and carry water” was an advertising slogan for marriage, he recounts.

In the six decades of his life, O’Toole has seen divorce, contraception, and abortion become legal, and in 2015, same sex marriage was legalized by referendum.

The population has rebounded from its low of 2.8 million in the 1950s, and Ireland’s economy, boosted by the export of electronics beginning in the 1970s, has become one of the strongest in the world.

O’Toole told The New York Times Book Review podcast, “I think one of the hopeful things about the Irish story is that it shows you that you can transform a nation. You can make it, in many ways, an awful lot better than it was.”

He is married to Clare Connell, a teacher of English and geography, with whom O’Toole has two adult children. He’s even a master chef, having appeared on an Irish cooking show with such recipes as lobster in tarragon sauce with runner beans, smoked eel, endive salad and poached quail eggs, and rhubarb and custard pie, winning the show’s five-star award not once but twice.

“There’s lots of bad things about growing up in a very small, intimate society, but there’s lots of wonderful things, too, particularly if you’re trying to write,” O’Toole told John Williams on the New York Times podcast. “I was trying to exploit this thing, which you have in a small society as a writer, which is that your own life, however ordinary it is, is going to intersect with the bigger questions.”

Nelson’s Pillar, a symbol of British oppression in the heart of Dublin, was destroyed on the morning of March 8, 1966. The Spire of Dublin, erected in 2003. (Wikipedia)


Last fall, O’Toole presented the Tanner Lectures on Human Values: “Known and Strange Things: The Political Necessity of Art,” at the Princeton University Friends Center.

Weaving in thoughts of the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Plato, Sigmund Freud, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Adrienne Rich, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (“imagination is too dangerous to be entrusted to ordinary people, and should be controlled by the elite and doled out in small doses”), O’Toole proclaimed “We do not have democracy if people cannot use their imaginative capacities.”

The climate crisis-induced wildfires and storms, he says, results from a failure of imagination.

He spoke of the “five essential tools of art: suspension of disbelief, transgression, irony, revelation, and authenticity that have been colonized by the political realm.” “The phrase suspension of disbelief has jumped species,” he said. “It has become a form of somnambulism.”

Trump and Boris Johnson “succeeded because they could do in politics what art previously thought of as its own signature trick — to induce the suspension of disbelief.” And transgression — in the domain of art, saying the unsayable, or what had been shamefully taboo — “doesn’t feel liberating anymore; its energy has passed from the avant-garde to the far-right fascist provocateurs. The self-styled alt right is fueled by the thrill of transgression.”

As for irony, “It was impossible to inflate Trump beyond the proportions he already presumed. How can you burlesque the non-stop burlesque show? It was impossible to present Boris Johnson as a buffoon because he always got there first.”

In modern democracy, continues O’Toole, revelation — “the abrupt change from unknowing to knowing, consequential to every story” — has become weak, when Trump boasts that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, or of his abuse of women, and still maintain his supporters.

And authenticity, in which values are truthfully and credibly expressed: “Politicians who lie most openly must be the most authentic, and the least artful liars must be the most sincere.”

Aerial view of the Grand Canal docks in Dublin, Ireland. (

March 3-5, 2023

Ne w Brunswick

Performing Arts Center


Choreography Harald Schrader Photography | Nanako Yamamoto
Love Betrayal Forgiveness



her introduction to the 20th Anniversary Edition of Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde , literary critic Elaine Showalter calls it her “most ambitious novel,” in which she “uncannily channels” Marilyn Monroe’s “inner voice and demands that the star be given recognition, compassion, and respect.”

If you have ever fallen in love with Norma Jeane and Marilyn, the Girl and the Vision, it’s hard to believe that any mortal writer could produce such a book without exploiting so exploitable a human subject. But here the nature of exploitation is a given, like wind and rain, sun and shadow, and the book becomes a weather event driven by Oates’s gale force prose. There’s even an underground wind of sorts in one of the bestknown images of the star, which Oates describes in Blonde and quotes from on her website Celestial Timepiece: “She’s standing with bare legs apart on a New York subway grating. Her blond head is thrown rapturously back as an updraft lifts her full, flaring skirt, exposing white cotton panties.”


It makes a curious kind of sense that Joyce Carol Oates’s circuitous road to Marilyn may have begun with Lewis Carroll’s Alice. One of the most eyecatching Princeton Magazine covers is the one for the August 2011 issue, based on the inventive layout by Jeff Tryon, Jorge Naranjo, and photographer Andrew Wilkinson for my article, “Alice’s American Cousin.”

It’s always helpful when the subject of a profile arrives with an interesting back story, and it’s hard to imagine a more inviting mixture to work with than Alice in Wonderland’s life-changing impact on the author of Wonderland (1971), the final volume in The Wonderland Quartet , comprised

of A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Expensive People (1968), and the National Book Award winner them (1969). What appealed to me was the thought that the Alice-Joyce connection would make it possible for readers to see beyond the formidably productive JCO to an 8-year-old girl enchanted by her paternal grandmother’s gift of the 1946 Junior Library edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass .

In The Faith of a Writer (2003), Oates calls her Grandmother Blanche’s gift “the great treasure of my childhood and the most profound literary influence of my life.” It was “love at first sight,” not only with Alice (“with whom I identified unquestionably”) but with “the phenomenon of Book.” Six years later, Grandmother Blanche gave Joyce her first typewriter, a Remington portable.

One of the highlights of “Alice’s American Cousin” is Dallas Piotrowski’s colorful reworking of the Tenniel sketch showing Alice “opening out like the largest telescope there ever was,” having just eaten the Eat Me cake. The altered Alice has a pencil in one hand and a book in the other and a face resembling that of the grown up author whose grandmother sent her into the world of slings and arrows armed with a Remington. Oates’s title for the picture of herself as Alice is “Curiouser and Curiouser,” which is what Alice is saying as the cake has its way with her.


In the years after her grandmother’s death, Oates learned that Blanche’s father had killed himself and his wife and that Blanche had concealed her Jewish heritage, discoveries reimagined in The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007), which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.

Joyce Carol Oates, 1972. (Wikipedia)

Respect for JCO’s literary stature is evident in the high-profile review that her 36th work of fiction received in the New York Times . It’s as if reviewer Lee Siegel is giving Oates her due as a force of nature even as she quibbles: “When all is said and done, when you have contended with the hampering undertow of Joyce Carol Oates’s flaws, there comes a moment when you surrender to the overpowering force of Joyce Carol Oates’s virtues. You yield to Oates much as her beleaguered heroines yield to the relentless, intoxicating strength of her dangerous men.” Another eminently quotable keepsake line follows: “Oates’s routes of excess often lead to rambling mansions of truly apprehended life. On the other side of her sentimentality lies a rare intensity of feeling; driving her melodrama is a heightened receptivity to tragedy. Her stereotypes fall, like overripe fruit, from the fertile boughs of her archetypes.”


At this writing, JCO’s latest novel, Babysitter , has attracted typically conflicted responses. Writing in the August 21 Guardian , Julie Myerson says, “As ever, Oates’s prose — almost insolently alive, littered with italics and exclamation marks, switching apparently recklessly back and forth through place and time — would seem to break all the rules. The result is nothing less than magical, a piece of work that is light yet dense, frenzied in its detail yet somehow also cool, measured and abstract. She’ll happily devote five pages to what can only amount to a minute or two of a character’s experience (one reason her novels are rarely short) but in so doing will take you straight to the heart

of a moment — or, as here, the agonizingly strung-out minutes of a sexual attack — without remorse.”


Discussing the Netflix film adaptation of Blonde in a July 10, 2022 Variety interview, Oates said “Andrew Dominik is a very brilliant director. I think he succeeded in showing the experience of Norma Jeane Baker from her perspective, rather than see it from the outside, the male gaze looking at a woman. He immersed himself in her perspective.”

After noting that Blonde was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Celestial Timepiece quotes the statement from that year’s Pulitzer jury: The book “is audacious, excessive, unstintingly serious and even severe in what its intellectual and narrative curiosity force upon the reader. Risking selfdefeat, this ‘radically distilled’ life of Marilyn Monroe seeks to deliver a grander vision of what is right and wrong in human conduct and motive.” There are references to “its variety of fictive effects and narrative voices, its muscularity,” its “outlandish authority.” If the novel “eventually sheds light on Monroe’s life, it does so not as a subtext to history, but because of its warrant as a galvanizing act of imagination.”

The best way to read Blonde is suggested by Elaine Showalter, in the context of its human subject, with “compassion and respect.” What was once read as “sensationalizing the story of Monroe,” Showalter writes, now must be seen “as a passionate and prophetic defense.”

Dallas Piotrowski’s watercolor of Joyce Carol Oates as Alice is from a series of the artist’s “Alice in Wonderland” paintings exhibited in 2004 at Ellarslie, The Trenton City Museum. (Courtesy of Dallas Piotrowski) The book Joyce/Alice is holding appears to be Joyce’s 1971 novel “Wonderland.”
62 | PRINCETON MAGAZINE MARCH 2023 Woodworking & Building Co. Since 1980 (609) 750-0030 SINCE 2006 Greenleaf Quarter.indd 1 11/7/22 2:56 PM


The Princeton-HBCU Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation

“ ”

As stated on Princeton University’s website, in May of last year the institution partnered with the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to “launch a groundbreaking program designed to enable research collaborations between Princeton faculty and their peers at Howard University, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.”

These collaborations are being funded through the PACRI. Princeton University’s Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations manages the program.

The University’s website emphasizes that the program is open to “all disciplines, including engineering, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Proposals are developed jointly by a project team consisting of Princeton and partner-institution faculty members.”

According to the University, the initiative’s aim is to “fund multiple collaborative projects each year between Princeton and each partnering institution.”


Tod G. Hamilton, a professor in Princeton University’s Department of Sociology and a faculty associate of the Office of Population Research, is a co-founder of PACRI.

Hamilton recounts that he and Rodney D. Priestley — who is now dean of the Graduate School but was at the time Princeton’s first vice dean for innovation — began initial

for Collaborative Research and Innovation

conversations about starting the program in the spring of 2020.

“One of the missions of the vice dean for innovation’s office is to uncover innovative ways to support research and entrepreneurship on campus,” says Hamilton, adding that Priestley “contacted me to lend my support to help form the alliance.”

Priestley has said, “We highly value partnerships at Princeton, whether they are with other academic institutions, industry, governments, or nonprofits. We believe that these collaborations enable Princeton researchers and innovators to achieve things that we cannot achieve alone.”

In the May announcement of the program, Priestley explained that “the new PACRI program is similar to other Princeton funding programs that foster collaborations unlikely to happen without the support.” He said, “We hope that researchers will be able to establish foundational work that could then attract greater funding. I am looking forward to seeing what will come out of these teams.”

PACRI’s purpose is to “find new ways of lowering the barriers to collaboration — and collaborating with institutions that Princeton has not historically collaborated with,” Hamilton articulates. “It’s a grounds-up initiative; faculty members at Princeton and at an HBCU partner jointly to together write a proposal, and then researchers at Princeton and the partner institutions evaluate the proposals.”

Hamilton says that his role in the program is as the “faculty co-lead” — first in collaboration with Priestley; now with Craig Arnold, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Priestley’s successor as vice dean for innovation since June 2022.

“The genesis of the program is twofold,” Hamilton explains. “First, Princeton always seeks new opportunities to expand the intellectual reach of the University. In the spring of 2020, the president of the University put forward a call to all cabinet officers to

bring forth bold and innovative ideas to combat systemic racism.”

He elaborates that, in connection with Priestley’s role as the vice dean for innovation, “We were interested in exploring bold avenues for expanding the scope of research, entrepreneurship, and innovation on Princeton’s campus. Over a series of conversations, we thought that it would be exciting to create an alliance between Princeton and several HBCUs — institutions that encapsulate the spirit of innovation and have a strong history of academic distinction.”

To that end, PACRI was founded with the aim of “creating a mechanism for researchers at HBCUs to collaborate with Princeton faculty — with the purpose of facilitating the discovery of new ideas and innovation,” Hamilton says.

“We enlisted the help of the United Negro College Fund, who lent their extensive expertise

The Princeton Alliance
(PACRI) is being launched to facilitate research collaborations between Princeton University faculty and their peers at historically Black colleges and universities.
Princeton University professors and PACRI co-leads Tod G. Hamilton, Ph.D. (back row, left) and Rodney D. Priestley, Ph.D. (front row, center) met with research administrators from HBCU partner institutions at the launch of the new program. (Photo by Corryn Goldschmidt, courtesy of UIDP Communications) Howard University students, Washington, D.C. (Photo by John Collier Jr., 1942, Library of Congress) Opposite: (Artwork by Imaginary Planet /

in supporting HBCUs, to help identify partners in the inaugural year of the program,” Hamilton continues. Dr. Chad Womack, UNCF’s senior director of national STEM programs and initiatives, consulted on the selection of the pilot institutions.

Womack has said that “UNCF is excited to support this groundbreaking initiative connecting Princeton University faculty and research faculty at HBCUs. PACRI will provide much-needed funding to help establish sustainable research collaborations between Princeton and HBCU faculty across a variety of HBCU campuses.”

“So we funded 10 proposals for the first cycle, all averaging about a quarter million dollars each,” Hamilton adds. “We recently released our second call for proposals with applications due in early spring — in which we hope to fund another round of proposals, across the five partnering institutions.”


Hamilton emphasizes, “The Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation enables partnerships. We aim to lower the barriers to cross-institution collaborations and to support research that wouldn’t be funded in the absence of this initiative.”

As an example, Hamilton points to a project at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which examines coastal flooding in the midAtlantic region and how groundwater may play an unseen role in causing it. He also mentions a project at Howard University, where a team of researchers is studying “asthma education programs in housing projects in Washington, D.C., and whether such programs are effective at improving child health.”

Another funded proposal investigates poverty — particularly in connection with Social Security in the Mississippi Delta. “The location of the institutions provides a unique opportunity, particularly in the social sciences, for researchers to collaborate on important social and policy issues,” Hamilton says.

He continues, “This project, a partnership with researchers from Jackson State University in Mississippi, brings teams of researchers into the field to conduct interviews with individuals residing in the Mississippi Delta and southeastern Appalachia to understand how they use Social Security Disability Insurance to make ends meet.”

Hamilton adds that local PIs (principal investigators, who lead research projects) from the region will “help the team uncover how supplemental security income and Social Security Disability Insurance impact household structure, living conditions, and communities in that part of the country.”


“There are also ways in which a unique set of resources that exist at some of the partnering institutions have helped bring about some exciting collaborations,” says Hamilton. “For example, we’re funding a project by a faculty member at Spelman and one from Princeton — where the researchers are making use of the archives of feminist scholar Audre Lorde housed at Spelman to create an original multimedia performance — including video, dance, and spoken word — inspired by her famous essay, ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’ (1984).”

Asked what the ideal research proposal looks like, Hamilton explains, “We don’t have a particular mold. We’re looking for exciting projects that will produce a meaningful product. If we fund a proposal from someone in theater, then the product of interest might be a new theater performance.”

He elaborates, “If we’re funding projects in computer science, engineering, or ecology and evolutionary biology, the final product would be academic articles or conference presentations.”

As an example, Hamilton points to a project about detecting “deep fake” videos that is based on advanced work in 3D reconstruction by a researcher at Prairie View A&M University. “Cybersecurity is a topic of immense importance. In the end, we’re looking for great projects that bring new teams of individuals together to gain

the new insights and perspectives needed to push the frontier of knowledge.”


Asked how he hopes to see PACRI evolve in the long term, Hamilton says, “We are excited by the support we have received from the provost’s office and by the overwhelming response we

collaborations between Princeton and the initial five partnering institutions, “We hope to expand the number of institutions that are in the alliance.

“We’re also excited about the possibility of expanding connections around intellectual property development, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship — which are all natural outcomes of research and scholarship.”

Asked what he particularly wants readers to know about PACRI, Hamilton says, “At Princeton, we believe that inclusive research is fundamental to research excellence. The University has many alliances with institutions to enrich its research and teaching mission, including with Humboldt University, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Sao Paulo.”

“These strategic alliances help build durable ties through faculty-designed collaborations,” he continues, adding that they create the “capacity for faculty and students to enhance and sustain academic cooperation through the institutional support of their home and host universities, enabling more significant and long-term collaborations to grow organically.”

have received from faculty colleagues across the University. Going forward, we envision several natural extensions of the program.”

He says, building on the successful

Hamilton concludes, “The academy and broader society benefit from initiatives that facilitate the exchange of ideas and remove the barriers to innovation.”

“In the end, we’re looking for great projects that bring new teams of individuals together to gain the new insights and perspectives needed to push the frontier of knowledge.”
—Tod G. Hamilton
(Photo courtesy of Prairie View A&M University) (Photo courtesy of Jackson State University) (Photo courtesy of Prairie View A&M University)


The genesis of Cabin Run Farm was 1785 in the original keeping room and throughout the years, this formidable homestead has grown to 37 plus acres and has become one of the most prestigious compounds in this area of Bucks County. The main house is sited on the precipice of a hillside overlooking Cabin Run Creek and the distant farms. The current stewards have spent endless time restoring the home to its pristine condition. The additions, constructed over the century, move seamlessly from one room to another. Architectural woodworking, hardwood floors, chef’s kitchen and a grand library are only a few of the amenities that dazzle. New slate roof, copper gutters and leaders, refreshed stone walls and landscaping, all contribute to this Currier and Ives canvas. The adjacent barn has been thoughtfully transformed into an office/game room with ample space for an exercise area, home theater, or place for the children to entertain friends. A large apartment over the garage is ideal for weekend guests or a caretaker. The pool area is serene and inviting without being intrusive. The original property was approximately 12.5 acres and the current owner purchased an additional 25 acres over the years. The entire 37+ acres are perfect for an equestrian enthusiast or there is ample room for a barn and or indoor arena. None of the acreage is in conservancy. Cabin Run Farm is a home that grew through the years into an architectural illusion – an illusion that was unobtainable…until now. Call Stephanie Garomon at 215.595.7402 or Art Mazzei at 610.428.4885 for more information.


550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • • 215.862.5500 Art Mazzei
550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • • 215.862.5500 Evan Walton 215.327.4709 WATERFRONT GALLERY Timeless waterfront gallery in the heart of Lambertville Boro, Hunterdon County NJ. This circa 1840 retail space and apartment has stunning river views and is set in the center of the shops and galleries of Lambertville. The main floor is a full gallery and retail space with back courtyard that has access directly onto the river. The 2nd and 3rd floor serve as a residential apartment. Wonderful opportunity to live and work in Lambertville or as an investment. Call Evan Walton at 215.327.4709 for more information. $2,499,000

Boca Do Lobo Hera suspension lamp; $15,632;

Harber London Nomad organizer; $360;

Andar Madera wood Airpod case; $32;

Bontoni Campagna leather chukka boots; $1,430;

CB2 Durant wheat velvet sofa; $1,799;

Industry West Channel Back leather chair; $990;

Nude Glass Malt Modern Classic crystal glass set; $151;

Ancient Madder silk bow tie; $120;

Filson navy twill leather trimmed duffle bag; $475;

CB2 Suspend tall bar cabinet; $1,299;

Garrett Leight California Optical Oakwood 47 sunglasses: $415;

Juan Bosco architectural drawing iPhone case; $30;


Hillier designed contemporary townhouse with 2-3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 1 car garage with driveway for additional parking, fireplace and private garden. New HVAC, windows and deck. In-town location, walk to university, restaurants and shops.


Spectacular Victorian duplex with 3-4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and parking for two cars. Completely renovated with newer windows, siding and porches. Professionally landscaped/ hardscaped and an easy stroll to town.


10 Nassau Street Princeton (609) 921 - 1411 W: E: C: 609-658-3771 HEIDI A. HARTMANN M o d e r n o r V i c t o r i a n Two excellent choices for in-town living
6 Willow Street Princeton 51 Park Place Princeton Sales Professional

Arhaus Hattie cabinet; $3,299;

Kim Seybert Garden napkins, set of 4; $112;

Pols Potter Peony wine glasses, set of 6; $191;

Julie Hadley Wabisabi cake stand; $157;

Arhaus Rodin dining chair; $699;

Tessitura Bevilacqua Caterina Bauletto bag; $1,190;

Isabel Marant Lilde boots; $775;

Camerich Moodie sofa; price upon request;

Foundrae Encrusted Butterfly Wings 18-karat gold necklace; $3,795;

Pomellato Nudo topaz ring with diamonds, 18K rose, and white gold; price upon request;

Currey & Company Lunaria oval chandelier; price upon request;


In-Town Living: The Pride of Princeton’s Battle Road

12 Battle Road, Princeton, New Jersey | | $2,850,000

Overlooking Princeton University’s Graduate College and serving as the elegant cornerstone of one of the town’s most prominent residential streets, this stately house was built for the 93rd Mayor of NYC. While some interior spaces are magnificently adorned with carved marble mantles, delicate picture molding and fanciful hardware, the overall scale is surprisingly livable and welcoming. Architect Glen Fries oversaw a renovation of the gourmet kitchen, marble bathroom, and splendid outdoor terraces and gardens. Above the 3-car garage is a charming guest cottage.

Country Living: Rolf Bauhan Colonial on 4.4 Acres

115 Arreton Road, Princeton, New Jersey | | $1,550,000

The setting for this masterfully built Rolf Bauhan home is exceptional. The fenced 4.4-acre property is enveloped by preserved land and ringed with an array of majestic trees. This special corner of Princeton was deemed worthy of historic designation, as it was once the epicenter of equestrian pursuits for the region. The Colonial reproduction features antique materials, including pumpkin pine flooring, pocket doors, paneled wainscoting, period hardware and exquisitely detailed mantels. The 2-car detached garage is ripe with possibility!

Barbara Blackwell, Broker Associate

For more information about properties, the market in general, or your home particular, please give me a call.

4 Nassau Street Princeton, New Jersey 08542

Subject to errors, omissions, prior sale or withdrawal without notice. Each
is independently owned and operated.
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