Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Congrats, Velga

TigerBlog's day began with an email from a woman named Velga Stokes, whom TB knows only from sitting in a few meetings here and there through the years.

Velga currently works for OIT, and she has been part of a group called "Spin," which is made up of people from all the different communications offices here on campus.

The point of Velga's email, sent to the entire Spin group, was that she was retiring from the University. Prior to working at OIT, she also worked at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Provost's office.

What TB didn't realize about Velga is that she has been at the University for a long time. How long? According to her email, how about 42 years and 11 months?

That would take her back to the summer of 1967 as a start date, or a few weeks after Gary Walters graduated from Princeton. Walters, of course, is now the Director of Athletics.

TigerBlog has no idea if Velga is a sports fan or how many athletic events she's attended here through the years, if any.

Still, TB does know her to be a nice, funny, happy person who always brought a smile to any meeting. And so, as she is leaving the University at this time, TB can put her tenure here into some athletic context.

For instance, she came to Princeton when there were 18 varsity teams; she leaves it when there are 38.

Of course, the biggest reason for the fact that sports teams have more than doubled during her time is because Velga came here before there were women students. In fact, she was here for two full years before women were admitted.

Her email mentions how much Princeton has changed in her time here, and of course the addition of women has to be the No. 1 thing that has happened while she's worked here. Still, TB can't help but wonder what Princeton looked like to a young Latvian-American woman starting her career at an all-male elite college; it's an experience that certainly makes her a pioneer for many who have followed in her footsteps.

In the 43 academic years that followed, she worked at a school that won 337 Ivy League championships, or 50 more than the 287 that Harvard won for the next highest total and 165 more than the 172 that Penn won for the third-highest.

In 41 of those 43 year, including each of the final 39, Princeton teams won at least one team or individual national championship.

She was here for the tenure of four University presidents, including the current president, Shirley Tilghman, the first woman to hold the position.

For that matter, she's been here for eight head football coaches, six men's lacrosse and hockey coaches and nine women's basketball coaches.

There have been five men's basketball coaches during her time. For a little better perspective, keep in mind that she started at Princeton within a few weeks of when Pete Carril did.

Think about that. She has been at Princeton since shortly after Gary Walters graduated and right around when Pete Carril was hired.

You figure someone like that has earned a little time off.

So congratulations to Velga Stokes. She's one of the people who has kept this University running for all these years.

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