October 18, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University’s endowment, ranked fourth highest of all United States universities at $23.8 billion, has reported a 12.5 percent investment gain for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, up $1.6 billion over the past year.

“The University relies on earnings from the endowment to cover more than half of its operating budget, as well as to help fund its highest priority strategic initiatives,“ said Provost Deborah Prentice. Last year, spending distributions from the endowment contributed about $875 million to the University’s budget.


By Donald Gilpin

A determined group of residents has successfully taken the first step in blocking a plan to connect Springdale Road to West Drive and then open the combined road as a major artery in and out of Princeton.

Last Wednesday, October 11, the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Princeton Planning Board read letters from the Princeton Environmental Commission, the Marquand Park Foundation, the Friends of the Rogers Wildlife Refuge, and the Nassau Swim Club; perused a petition with 102 signatures, urging the deletion of the Springdale Road extension from the Master Plan; listened to public comments, including testimony from Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association; and then voted unanimously to recommend to the whole Planning Board that West Drive be deleted from the Circulation Element of the Master Plan.


GATHERING STEAM: The Princeton Day School STEAM Committee meets in the new STEAM Center (for science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics). From left, Chief Information Officer Jon Ostendorf, Upper School Head Jason Robinson, Interim Math Chair Chip Cash, Libraries Department Chair Sheila Goeke, STEAM Coordinator Jonathan Tatkon-Coker, Head of School Paul Stellato, STEAM Committee Chair and Scientist in Residence Leon Rosenberg, Science Department Chair Jason Park, Lower School Math Teacher Jennifer Vradenburgh, and Lower School Science Teacher Aaron Schomburg. (Photo Courtesy of PDS)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton Day School (PDS), long known for its deep commitment and strong programs in the humanities and the fine and performing arts, has recently turned its focus to the establishment of a dynamic new STEAM program, with major construction of a STEAM Center and new faculty to support it.

“We have created a program and facility that has the potential to touch and shape the experience of every kid in the school,” said Head of School Paul Stellato. “The Upper School program is designed to speak to kids who have no experience, to introduce them to the subject, and also to meet the needs of kids who have extensive experience in the field. It’s an all-encompassing program.”


October 11, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

Edward Felten, professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School (WW), and Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public policy at WW, will serve on a new task force seeking to transform America’s labor market from one based largely on degrees to one based on skills. more

CALLING ALL PHS ALUMNI: Donna Wilkinson, PHS class of 1957, at her 60th anniversary reunion. Wilkinson’s daughter, Mia Sacks, PHS ’83, is co-chair of the alumni steering committee and a leading organizer of the newly formed PHS Alumni Association.

By Donald Gilpin

Looking to engage alumni, build a relationship with them, and at the same time benefit current students, the Princeton Public Schools District (PPS) is launching an alumni association for Princeton High School (PHS) graduates. more

ART AND LIFE: From his childhood behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria to a successful career in the restaurant business (starting at a resort on the Black Sea) to a new life in New Jersey as a painter, muralist, and designer, Cvetko Ivanov has come a long way to his porch on Vandeventer Street, where he stands amidst a selection of his original works. 

By Donald Gilpin

Artist Cvetko Ivanov can be found most Saturdays and Sundays surrounded by dozens of his paintings on the front porch of the Vandeventer Street house where he lives with his niece and her husband. From his easy-going, friendly demeanor as he talks to passers-by and other interested customers, it might be hard to guess that his life has taken more than a few dramatic turns.  more

October 4, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

The six candidates who will be on the ballot for the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education election on November 7 presented their qualifications and shared their perspectives on the greatest challenges facing the district in the coming years in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters (LWV) in the Municipal Building Monday night.  more

BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL: Littlebrook Elementary School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It has also, along with John Witherspoon Middle School and Johnson Park Elementary, earned bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey’s Sustainable Schools program. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) have several causes for celebration this fall, with Littlebrook Elementary winning a Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Littlebrook (LB), John Witherspoon Middle School (JW), and Johnson Park Elementary (JP) all earning bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey’s Sustainable Schools program. more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Municipal Council last week approved, by a 5-1 margin, a revised proposal from J. Robert Hillier, architect, developer, and a Town Topics shareholder, to continue to rent rather than sell eight housing units in the Waxwood Building on Quarry Street in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) section of Princeton.

“My goal has been to make as many affordable units as I can available to the widest number of residents and descendants of residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson Community,” Hillier said, pointing out that current tenants and other W-J residents would prefer the less-expensive option of rentals over purchases.  more

September 27, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

About 50 people, many carrying signs, gathered in Palmer Square at noon on Saturday to rally for diplomacy, not war with North Korea.

In a demonstration organized by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) in response to heated rhetoric and threats, including President Trump’s threat at the United Nations last week to “totally destroy” North Korea, eight different speakers called for de-escalation and diplomacy rather than the saber-rattling that has been characteristic of the dialogue on both sides. more

OBAMA AND TRUMP: New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker, author of the recent book “Obama: The Call of History,” spoke to a full house Monday night at Princeton University’s Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall, on the subject of President Obama’s legacy in the current Trump era. 

By Donald Gilpin

Peter Baker is still trying to figure out who is Barack Obama, and what exactly will be the substance of his legacy?

Chief White House correspondent for the New York Times since 2008, Baker told a full-house gathering of about 200 at Princeton University’s Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall on Monday that he wrote his new book, Obama: the Call of History (June 2017), to try and tackle those questions.  more

James Wellemeyer

By Donald Gilpin

In a political climate that looks each day more contentious, toxic, and discouraging, what sort of recruitment campaign could ever inspire young people to get involved in politics?

Lawrenceville School senior James Wellemeyer has the answer to that question, and he has written a civics e-textbook, Young Voices, on youth political involvement to spread the word. In addition to his book, that will be launched at the Chapin School this spring and is currently under review for future use at a number of other public and private schools, Wellemeyer is working to create a Presidential Youth Council and a New Jersey Gubernatorial Youth Council to give high school students more visible platforms on which to express their views and propose solutions to political issues. more

September 20, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

About 200 professors, colleagues, friends, their families, and other supporters gathered in Princeton University’s East Pyne Courtyard Friday evening to hold a candlelight vigil in support of Xiyue Wang, a graduate student who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past 13 months.

Speakers, who included Wang’s wife, two of his professors, and several of his colleagues and friends, focused mostly on Wang’s qualities as a person, a scholar, a husband, and father to a 4-year-old son. Those closest to Wang, 37, described him as a talented, ambitious, dedicated scholar, full of intellectual curiosity and interest in Iranian culture, a steadfast friend and a loving family man with a distinct flair for cooking.  more

By Donald Gilpin

In a “State of the Community” dialogue with Princeton business leaders at the Nassau Inn Tuesday morning, Mayor Liz Lempert, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton, and Police Chief Nick Sutter presented a positive picture of projects underway and challenges ahead for the community.

Though expressing concern about vacancies in office and retail space in town, Lempert pointed out a number of economic development projects already underway. “Many other communities are trying to invent what we have here naturally,” she said. She mentioned the high level of activity in Princeton, numerous public events, and placemaking projects including the farmers’ market, the Dohm Alley art exhibit, the parklet outside jaZams, the Arts Council’s pop-in spaces, and opportunities to enhance collaboration with Princeton University. more

NEW ERA AT PASSAGE: C. Ryanne Domingues has taken over as artistic director at Trenton’s Passage Theatre, replacing June Ballinger, who guided the company for more than two decades in creating and producing socially-relevant new plays and community-devised arts programming.

By Donald Gilpin

Trenton’s Passage Theatre Company has a new artistic director as it prepares for the opening of its fall season.

C. Ryanne Domingues, co-founder and former producing artistic director of Simpatico Theatre in Philadelphia, has taken over the leading role from June Ballinger, who announced last month that she would be stepping down after 22 years at the helm. Ballinger will return to her career as a writer, actor, and teacher, continuing her association with Passage as an artistic advisor for this season and teacher of adult acting classes. more

September 13, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

Widespread criticism, along with a barrage of political, legal, and proposed legislative action, has arisen in response to last week’s Trump administration announcement of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, that protected some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, also known as DREAMers, from deportation. more

By Donald Gilpin

With Florida still reeling from Hurricane Irma, and the effects of climate change dramatically apparent across the globe, Sustainable Princeton (SP) could not have chosen a more appropriate time to announce its $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for Princeton.

Sustainable Princeton, a nonprofit environmental organization, will partner with the town of Princeton to develop specific strategies, actions, and goals to lower the town’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and prepare its infrastructure to withstand the increasing impacts of climate change. more

“SUPER-HIGH EXPECTATIONS:” Five new officers, chosen from an original pool of 800 candidates, joined the Princeton Police Department last month. They are (from left) Michael Miceli, James Eufemia, Ashley Gaylord, Ryan McDermott, and Adam Santos.

By Donald Gilpin

Five new officers, selected from an original pool of 800 candidates, were sworn in to the Princeton Police Department (PPD) last month by Mayor Liz Lempert and PPD Chief Nick Sutter. more

September 6, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton immigrant community, in town and on campus, met with dismay U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement yesterday that President Trump plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The announcement called for Congress to replace the policy before it fully expires in March 2018. more

By Donald Gilpin

It’s back to school this week for almost 4,000 Princeton Public Schools students and staff, and with the Westminster Choir College property no longer available, school leaders are considering options for handling increasing enrollments at all levels.   more

August 30, 2017

A middle school oceanography course and a Diverse Educators Recruitment Day are just two of the many ways that Princeton Public Schools (PPS) have been working this summer to fulfill PPS’s strategic goal to “promote equity and access in ways that effectively eliminate the ‘achievement’ or opportunity gap.”

Designed to engage and excite students who are under-represented in more advanced science courses, the oceanography class ran from August 7-18 for four hours each day. Fifteen John Witherspoon Middle School students attended the course, which was sponsored by the Princeton Area Community Foundation. more

August 23, 2017

The fate of the Waxwood development on Quarry Street will not be determined for at least another month, as Princeton Council has deferred action to its September 25 meeting in order to seek more input and information before making any decision.

If a 2002 agreement with architect and developer J. Robert Hillier, a Town Topics shareholder, is allowed to take effect, with subsequent amendments allowed to lapse, Mr. Hillier would sell the units. If Mr. Hillier’s preferred alternate proposal, presented August 10, 2017, is accepted, then the Waxwood would continue as a rental property. Under a third alternative, Mr. Hillier would set up a fund that would help residents with down payments or foreclosures.  more

Iranian authorities have denied the appeal of Princeton University graduate student Xiyue Wang, who had been convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the University announced last Thursday.

Mr. Wang was in Iran in 2016 conducting research for his doctoral dissertation in history when he was arrested and
accused by Iran authorities of ”spying under the cover of research.” Princeton University issued a statement last Thursday expressing support for Mr. Wang and reaffirming that he is innocent of all charges.  more

Prof. Janet Currie, Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and Director of the Center for Health and Well-Being. 

Every day more than 140 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose, and deaths from opioids continue to increase, almost quadrupling since 1999.

Responding to the report of a special commission chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, President Trump recently declared the opioid epidemic a state of emergency. more

August 16, 2017
Photo by Charles R. PlohnPhoto by Charles R. PlohnPhoto by Charles R. PlohnPhoto by Charles R. PlohnPhoto by Charles R. Plohn

A diverse crowd of about 250 gathered in Palmer Square Sunday afternoon to show support for the victims of Charlottesville, Va., and to stand up against white supremacy, domestic terrorists, and hate groups in our country.