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U. awards top alumni honors to Gibson '65 and Mendelsohn GS '94

The University will award its top alumni honors, the Woodrow Wilson Award and the James Madison Medal, to Charles Gibson ’65 and Daniel Mendelsohn GS ’94, respectively. The official award ceremony will take place on campus during Alumni Day on Feb. 24, where Gibson and Mendelsohn will also deliver speeches.

The Woodrow Wilson Award is conferred annually to an undergraduate alumna or alumnus whose career has exemplified Wilson’s idea of “Princeton in the Nation’s Service.” Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, served as a president of the University, governor of New Jersey, and President of the United States.


Gibson earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University. A television journalist with over 40 years of experience, Gibson has reported worldwide, notably as an ABC anchor, hosting “World News with Charles Gibson” from 2006 to 2009 and “Good Morning America” from 1987 to 2006. He covered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and conflicts in Kosovo and the Middle East, and was awarded an Emmy for his Primetime Thursday investigation titled “Columbia Final Mission” on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Throughout his career, Gibson has covered the White House and Congress, interviewed presidents and world leaders, and moderated presidential debates.

Gibson has been awarded the National Journalism Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Paul White Award by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Gibson served two terms as a University trustee, from 2006 to 2015. He delivered the keynote address at Princeton’s Class Day in 2010.

Mendelsohn received the James Madison Medal, which is awarded annually to an alumnus or alumna of the Graduate School who has achieved remarkable career accomplishments, contributed significantly to public service, or advanced the field of graduate education. The award was established by the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, which chose Madison as the namesake of the award because he is often cited as the University’s first graduate student.

Mendelsohn studied classics at the University graduate school, receiving his M.A. in 1989 and his Ph.D. in 1994. While still in graduate school, Mendelsohn began writing for publications such as The New York Times and The Nation. After receiving his Ph.D., he moved to New York to write full time. He has since received international renown as an author, critic, translator, and memoirist.

Mendelsohn’s most recent book, “An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic,” was published in September 2017 and shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. His other memoirs include “The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity,” a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million,” an international bestseller that described Mendelsohn’s search to discover the fate of relatives who died in the Holocaust. Mendelsohn is also the author of two essay collections about literature and the arts, “How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken” and “Waiting for Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture.” His scholarly works include “Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays” and translations of the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy.


In 2005, Mendelsohn worked in the University’s Atelier program, staging a production of Euripides’ “The Trojan Women” with students and artists Maria Tucci and Allegra Kent.

Mendelsohn is currently the Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard College and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Philosophical Association. He is the recipient of numerous literary and scholarly awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN Harry Vursell Prize for Prose Style, and two Mellon Foundation awards.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski GS ’61, president of Peru, and Eric Schmidt ’76, former CEO of Google and the current executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, were honored with the James Madison Medal and the Woodrow Wilson Award in May. 

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