Thursday, July 14, 2011

The President's Report

TigerBlog was at a meeting at Prospect House several years ago.

The meeting featured representatives from all of the various communications offices on campus, and it was in a room with a long rectangular table. TigerBlog sat down somewhat randomly at the far end of the table, and as the seats filled in, all but the one to his immediate left were taken.

Eventually, the featured speaker for the meeting walked in and, seeing only one empty chair, sat down next to TB. as the two had never met, she very politely extended her hand to TB and said: "hello, I'm Shirley Tilghman."

Obviously, TigerBlog knew who she was already, since she is the President of Princeton University.

TB has dealt with President Tilghman several times through the years and seen her at numerous functions. She always remembers TB by name, which TB assumes she multiplies out times the hundreds or thousands of people on this campus that she can similarly identify.

For someone whose background is as a scientist, Dr. Tilghman has always struck TB as a natural politician, someone who moves seamlessly from constituent to constituent, always smiling and pleasant.

In essence, it's a huge part of what being a college president is about, the ability to interact with people on campus from vastly different points of view, not to mention the alumni relations aspect.

There have been two Presidents of Princeton during TB's tenure here, Dr. Tilghman and Harold Shapiro before her.

TigerBlog's interactions with President Shapiro were more limited. TB was invited to a dinner at the President's house in 1996 with the rest of the men's basketball program after the UCLA win and Pete Carril's retirement, and TB did go to Dr. Shapiro's office to produce a first-person account of his memories and thoughts of Palmer Stadium for the game program from the final game there.

Back when Dr. Shapiro was the President (should TB be capitalizing that?), the Department of Athletics had to produce a document each summer called "The President's Report."

TB assumes that every other department did as well, and he wonders how much of this ever was read by anyone.

Anyway, this report consisted of charts, text, graphs, historical references and such, recapping the athletic performance of the previous academic year, as well as information like campus rec permits sold and club sports offerings.

The amount of time it took to put together was extraordinary, with charts of individual honors won by Princeton athletes and team-by-team seasonal reviews and on and on.

Through the years, that document - now called an annual report - has gotten to be much more bare bones, with mostly a statistical recap of what happened in the last academic year.

There is some valuable information there.

For instance, in head-to-head competition last year, Princeton teams went a combined 366-217-5, for a .627 winning percentage.

The women by themselves had an even better percentage of .656, with a combined record of 197-103-2. The men were 169-114-3 (.596).

Not surprisingly, the winter was Princeton's best season, with a record of 163-72-3, or a winning percentage of just under .700.

Princeton also had a winning record in head-to-head competition against all seven Ivy League schools. In fact, Princeton had a .581 or better winning percentage against each of its Ivy rivals.

Of course, it might be a bit surprising which school it was that played Princeton the toughest. Any guesses as to the school against which Princeton was 18-13?

Hint? Eight of those 13 losses came in men's and women's hockey and baseball.

The answer?


Four Princeton teams won at least 23 games this past year. The baseball team won 23 - and lost 24. Still, finishing below .500 is okay, considering that Princeton went 3-13 in its first 16 games and then 20-11 in its last 31, winning the Ivy title and advancing to the NCAA tournament along the way.

The women's fencing team went 24-3, and the basketball teams combined to go 49-12 (men were 25-7; women were 24-5).

All in all, it's great information to have an archive of, and TB has binders of these reports going back to the 1980s. As well as some nightmares of having to compile it all, at least before it was mercifully streamlined.

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