Alumni Day is often associated with lavish awards and flattering remarks on undergraduate life. However, this weekend's award winners were modest about their Princeton experiences.
"I have never been properly qualified for any job I have held," Dr. Eric Lander '78 said in his acceptance speech for this year's Woodrow Wilson Award. "In fact, I have been completely unqualified for all the jobs I have held. I have Princeton to thank for that," he joked.
Saturday's Alumni Day featured a luncheon in Jadwin Gymnasium, a service of remembrance in the Chapel and several panel discussions and lectures.
Lander, who has worked on the human genome project for a decade, spoke on bioethics and researching genetic links to disease in a morning address in Richardson Auditorium. "Ten or 15 years from now, no biology textbook will not have the human genome inside the front cover," he said.
Lander said the University should fulfill its motto "in the nation's service" by discussing the implications of genetic research. "It's my belief that the University has a very special responsibility to explore this new world."
Pianist and music critic Charles Rosen '48 GS '51, who performed in Richardson later in the day, received the James Madison Medal for distinguished alumni. Like Lander, he joked about the value of his Princeton education.
"People think one comes to a University for something useful. I came here for pure pleasure," he said.
"I started in history," Rosen said, explaining his academic concentration. "I wanted to switch to French. I asked how many history courses they would accept as French courses. They said all of them."
Claire Adjiman received the award for the most distinguished graduate student for her work in engineering.
"The biggest lesson I have learned here at Princeton is not in engineering or mathematics or technology," Adjiman said. "The biggest lesson I have learned is that I can always start over."
Shapiro also awarded the Pyne Prize to Julia Lee '98 and Shalani Alisharan '98. The Pyne Prize is awarded annually to seniors who have excelled in scholarship and contributed to campus life. Other lecturers highlighted current academic endeavors.
Professor Arnold Rampersad discussed "Autobiography and the American experience" with an early morning Richardson audience. "In this century, autobiography, more than fictions, has created social change," said Rampersad.