Arthur Levinson GS '77 and George Rupp '64 were selected as the 2006 recipients of the two major alumni awards bestowed by the Princeton University Alumni Association.
Levinson, chairman and CEO of Genentech, will receive the James Madison Medal, and Rupp, president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), was selected as the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award.
The Wilson Award recognizes undergraduate alumni who embody the University's unofficial motto "Princeton in the Nation's Service." The Madison Medal is presented to graduate alumni who have "had a distinguished career, advanced the cause of graduate education, or achieved an outstanding record of public service," according to the University website.
On Alumni Day, Feb. 26, both will receive their awards and deliver lectures in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall.
Rupp is in his fourth year as president of IRC, an organization founded at the suggestion of Albert Einstein to resettle refugees from Nazi Europe. The organization has since expanded to aiding refugees in 25 countries, and about half of the members of the Princeton in Africa program end up becoming involved with the IRC.
Rupp said that his address will be about "the changing face of war in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries," focusing on "the large numbers of uprooted people."
During his time at the University, Rupp, who had been more of a math and science student in high school, experienced an "enormously stimulating and effective education."
"Princeton was really eyeopening," Rupp said, because he realized "how much [he] had been missing by not reading books."
As an English major, Rupp said he was "somewhat uncharacteristic of the average Princeton student." He opted for a seldom-chosen track in the department, the comparison of English literature to that of another language. Comparative literature was not a department at the time.
Rupp also made the then unusual choice of studying abroad, spending his junior year in Munich, Germany. Rupp noted that the University was very liberal in its study abroad policy, granting him full course credit for the year and charging him no tuition.
Rupp noted that his heav involvement in the civil rights movement during his undergraduate years shaped him just as much as his academic experience did.
Rupp received a B.D. from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He later served as the John Lord O'Brian Professor of Divinity and dean at Harvard Divinity School, where he continued the international aspect of his education, including a study of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Prior to taking the helm at IRC, Rupp served as president of Rice University, where he further developed the humanities aspect of that institution, and then as president of Columbia University, where he exercised his expertise in leading a school known for its interest in solving public and social issues.
Levinson also recalled his years at the University as a valuable experience that contributed greatly to his development as a scientist.
"Princeton being somewhat isolated, there were not a lot of competing interests," Levinson said. "[It] provided the opportunity to work very hard and to take graduate work seriously."
While at the Graduate School, Levinson studied viral proteins and their role in causing cancer. He continued that work at the University of California, San Francisco, with Mike Bishop and Harold Varmus, who later shared a Nobel Prize for that work.
Levinson joined Genentech — the first ever biotechnology company — as a scientist in 1980, thinking he would only stay a few years and then move on to an academic position. However, he realized "how efficiently ... science could progress" in that setting, and remained with the company.
Moving from scientific to managerial positions in the early 90s, Levinson became Genentech's CEO in 1995, developing the company's focus on oncology and its search for ways to inhibit the molecular pathways that lead to cancer through genetics.
Levinson, a member of the board of trustees of Google and Apple and a major proponent of innovation in research and business, said that "a lot of companies say they are innovative but they really are not. It seems to be a buzzword."
His lecture will tentatively focus on what it takes to create an innovative business and research environment.
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