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President's Letter, September, 2009

September 2009

Dear Classmates:

We start the new academic year basking in the glow of a spectacular Magical Mystery Tour and anticipating possibly the most significant development for the legacy of the Class of 1969 since we decided to create the Community Service Fund at our 25th reunion. More on the second item a bit later.

The 40th – A Stellar Weekend and the Cycle Begins Again

271 classmates joined us making the 40th the largest ’69 gathering since the 25th. Spouses, partners, offspring and guests brought total attendance to 540 but it felt like a lot more, especially Saturday night, as Dod Courtyard became the place to be for the whole campus. The full report together with Wade Epps’ thoughtful and moving homily from the memorial service are posted on the class website (princeton1969.org). Five of our seven musical groups featured Princeton talent, including our own classmate Barry Miles Silverlight at the Sunday Jazz Brunch and the world premier by Rackett on Thursday night of The Class of 69 written by honorary classmate Paul Muldoon for the occasion (also posted on the website). Thanks once again to our terrific reunion management team and to the generous classmates who added magical ingredients – Bruce and Jane Hillman for the P-rade beads, Lynn Shostack for the magicians themselves and the dozen or so classmates who contributed wines to the Friday tasting. In response to many requests we are reproducing Don Dixon’s memorable audio-video montage which ran all weekend in the lounge tent. Those who have not already ordered one can do so by sending me an e-mail. They will also be available through the 1969 Emporium on the Class website. We forgot to mention at the Class meeting Saturday evening that Don co-chairs the Engineering School Advisory Council and oversees the $325 million funding effort for Engineering and a Sustainable Society as part of the Aspire Campaign. And we are all deeply indebted to Marc Miller and Bruce Freeman for decades of service to Class, University and Community, recognized in our second quinquennial President’s Awards presented at the Saturday Class dinner.

Before going any further I must say how honored I am to have been elected to serve as your President for the next five years together with Paul Sittenfeld as Secretary and David Pensak as Treasurer (something old, something new?). In addition, our new Class Constitution adopted at the Class meeting (also posted on the website) establishes the appointed position of Executive Vice President and I could not be more pleased that our outgoing President Dick Bott, who has done such an outstanding job for the Class over the past five years, has agreed to be the first to sit in this chair. Bob Axelrod will lead our Annual Giving efforts as Class Agent, a role that has never been more important to Princeton, and Muffin Slonaker will continue as Class Associates liaison.

Class of 1969 Community Service Fund – A Special Report

To round out the Class leadership team, Chuck Freyer succeeds Rick Kitto as Chair of the Class of 1969 Community Service Fund. Rick has guided the CSF through an extraordinary period of growth for its flagship program, Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), and has agreed to continue his important contributions by assisting Jeff Marston in CSF’s fundraising as the new Special Gifts Chair. This brings us nicely back to the headline item.

The board of the CSF has been grappling for over two years with the strategic crossroads created by its very success. Beginning modestly in 1995 the PICS program reached an all time high of 75 civic engagement internships over the summer of 2008. For the summer of 2009 student demand for the program set a new record with 515 applications from 348 applicants, even though placements were reduced to 57 due to economic conditions affecting both the CSF and its sponsoring organizations. In recognition of the growing role of other classes in creating and funding these opportunities for Princeton students, the CSF board has been expanded to include representatives of these classes. To date alumni from 26 classes have participated in PICS as donors, internship sponsors, student interviewers, mentors and board members.

PICS has grown to the point that it requires full-time staffing. The student demand for the program far outstrips the number of internships we have created so far. The opportunity to further expand multi-class and multi-generational involvement, thereby creating a permanent Class legacy, is clear, but could be more effectively realized if resources did not have to be diverted from internship funding to administrative costs, most of which relate to the students. At the same time the University is increasing its commitment both to civic engagement and to off-campus experiential learning as integral components of the Princeton undergraduate education. The Class of 1969 and the CSF have helped to lead the way in this focal shift. President Tilghman concluded her reunions remarks to the Class at our wine-tasting Friday evening by saying that of all the contributions of 1969 to the life of the University, none is more important or influential than the work of the CSF.

Responding to these challenges the CSF board made a proposal to the University in the spring for a closer integration between the CSF and the Pace Center for the administration and development of the PICS program. Pace is the locus for student civic engagement activities on campus. The plan has been endorsed by senior University officers, and the implementing actions on the part of the University are in process. Under the plan PICS would become the umbrella program for all alumni-associated civic engagement summer internships for undergraduates administered by the Pace Center. The CSF Board and the Pace Center would work closely together to develop and expand the PICS program. Compatible internships presently offered by Pace would be rolled into PICS. Pace would provide staff support and become responsible for most of the administrative costs of the program that relate to the students. The CSF board would continue to be responsible for creating PICS internships, including recruiting potential internship sponsors and vetting of sponsor organizations; funding of internships, including fundraising and the negotiation of cost sharing with sponsoring organizations; award of internships to qualifying sponsor organizations; organizing and preparing alumni volunteers for student interviews; recruiting alumni mentors and the administration of the mentoring program; communication with constituent classes and other alumni organizations; and PICS program strategic development. Seva Kramer, who would continue as CSF Executive Director, would be the primary representative of the CSF Board in its relations with sponsoring organizations and its regular working relationship with the Pace Center.

The CSF board believes these changes would set the stage for a significant expansion of PICS opportunities by leveraging Pace’s mission, organization and on-campus student network while freeing the alumni to focus primarily on creating new internships, improving the overall quality of the program and expanding the support base. We will be hearing more from Chuck and the CSF officers when the University’s internal processes are complete, hopefully in the very near future.

Class Finances

  • Treasurer’s Report – On the general finance front, thanks to Rick Belding for five years of excellent stewardship as our Treasurer and to Chuck Freyer for handling the finances of our 40th. The Class begins the year in solid condition. 263 classmates paid dues last year, 71 at the leadership level ($125 or more) in support of general class activities. After the expense of the 40th Reunion Class Book (mailed to all classmates who could not join us for the weekend) we have a balance of $27,316 in general Class funds and $1,144 in the reunions account after providing for all reunions expenses. Our only significant liability is $5,380 to the Class of 1969 Scholarship Fund representing contributions sent with dues from 71 classmates last year. The present Class scholarship beneficiary is Henry L. Moss, III ’12, son of our Henry L. Moss, Jr. 102 donors enclosed over $11,000 for the Community Service Fund with their dues, which has already been passed along to the CSF. When added to direct donations, classmates contributed $54,411 to the work of the CSF last year. Thanks to everyone for great generosity in challenging times.

David Pensak now picks up the Treasurer’s mantle and exhorts us as follows:

No-one likes being solicited for money, especially Class dues, but it must be done. As Shakespeare put it, "If it were done when ‘tis done, then t’were well it were done quickly.” If you don’t pay your dues now, you are likely to forget. If you forget, I will nag you until you do. If you do pay your dues now, you won’t hear from me again this year. So please, either return your check with the enclosed card or go on the Class website and click the Pay Dues Online button.

Our dues participation rate has been running at about 35% for the past few years…not bad, but we’d like to do better. So in an effort to improve the situation we are holding a regional competition. I will personally donate $200 to the Class in honor of whatever state or country has the highest percentage of classmates paying their dues. Those of you who live in out-of-the-way places like New Caledonia have a great shot at hitting 100% participation and snagging the glory. And if you can, please join the leadership dues role. It makes a real difference.

Thank-you, David.

  • Annual Giving Report – Our 40th Reunion Annual Giving campaign was also a great success story. In the most difficult fundraising environment in decades, the Class of 1969 raised $2,076,564 from 53.8% of the Class. Many thanks go to our great AG volunteer team of over 30 classmates and the guys who led this effort including Mike Gehret, Class Agent; Bob Loveman, Special Gifts Chair; Dick Bott, Critical Few Chair; Jim Blackburn and Brooke Stoddard our Participation Chairs. And special thanks to several anonymous classmates and a special spouse who stumped up for a successful participation challenge fund. An extra locomotive goes out to Mike Gehret for his five years as Class Agent. During Mike’s tour of duty, ’69 raised $3,058,952 in unrestricted dollars for Princeton – thank you Mike. Our new Class Agent Bob Axelrod will need lots of help over the next five years – so when he calls to ask please say yes.

The Secretary’s Corner

Mr. Sittenfeld has enclosed his summer newsletter and is now fresh out of material. The easy way to send him your news is to include it with your dues card in the space provided.

The Calendar

Here are the main events scheduled so far for this year. Mark your calendars. Major reunions are great, but the smaller gatherings are often a better venue for catching up with classmates and what’s happening at Princeton.

  • Antietam mini-reunion with Professor James McPherson – October 16-18, 2009 in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Anyone who attended Gettysburg I or II knows how fantastic this will be. At this writing there are still a few openings. Contact Pam Meyerson ASAP to sign up (pmeyerson@owt.net, 215-864-1694).
  • Harvard Game Biennial Tiger Tent Celebration – October 24, 2009 in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
  • Yale Game Class Steering Committee Meeting, Tailgate and Dinner – November 14, 2009 in Princeton.
  • Alumni Day, Service of Remembrance and Class Dinner – February 20, 2010 in Princeton.
  • 41st Reunion – May 27-30, 2010 in Princeton.


We will send out e-mail updates and details as the above dates approach. Which reminds me…we still lack e-mail addresses for over 200 members of the Great Class of 1969. As the cost of snail mail rises we are moving more and more to communication via e-mail and the Class website. If you are one of the cybernetic silent minority, please give us an e-mail contact. You can include it on your dues reply card or communicate directly with me by any means indicated on the masthead and I will be happy personally to help you fix this. You will get even better connectivity and your e-mail address will be entered automatically if you sign up on TigerNet (tigernet.princeton.edu, click on Alumni Directory, then First Time Users). A major upgrade of TigerNet is being rolled out this summer and should be complete by the time you receive this letter.

Also please continue to forward to Chuck Freyer (cfreyer@scppartners.com) newsworthy items, pictures, blog coordinates and anything else you think would be of interest to your classmates for posting on the Class website (princeton1969.org). The site architecture was upgraded last spring, but it’s still only as good as the content. If you haven’t done so, visit the site and check it out. And if you need any Class regalia, you can order online at the 1969 Emporium.

The Next Five Years

A couple of my priorities for the upcoming five years are reasonably well defined – supporting the CSF next-stage strategic plan discussed above and continuing to involve more classmates in the vibrant life of the Class and of the University as we (in theory anyway) have more time to serve. We have been very successful in gatherings of classmates "close to home” whether at tailgates and dinners or the more elaborate mini-reunions. I would very much like to see this success extended further afield. Some of you have organized excellent regional events but I would like to find ways for the Class to better support regional initiatives. In any case, our new Class constitution creates a Steering Committee in place of the old Board of Governors, which will hold its first meeting under its new name the morning of November 14. The agenda for the next five years will be the principal subject at that meeting. It is open to all classmates wishing to be involved in and to help direct what the Class is doing. Please join us.

Warm regards to all,

J. William Charrier

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