The reception on Alexander Beach after Sunday's installation served as an opportunity for Eisgruber's fellow administrators, faculty members and personal friends to connect and trade stories about the new University president. Here's what people thought of the new president's inaugural speech.
Rush Holt, Congressman:"The speech in fact today dealt in part, I’m pleased to see, with maintaining excellent education in America, and not falling victim to fads, to excessive commercialization or commoditization."
"I think he will be a spokesperson for higher education and education in America —and a very good one."
Ron McCoy, University architect:"I think it was just refreshing to hear everybody talk about the commitment to the values of the liberal arts education."
"It’s a good reminder, a good renewal of what the University’s dedicated to."
Mark McConnell, math professor:In response to psychology professor and department chair Deborah Prentice's speech, which compared the relationship between faculty and administrators to the relationship between cats and cat-herders:"I hope if someone herds me, I’ll be a well-herded cat. We work together, we have a common vision; we’ll do good things that way."
Janice Stulz Roddenbery, former head of Graduate Alumni Association:"I was looking at him today, and I was remembering this young faculty member who used to come to meetings in cords and a green sweater and an oxford shirt, and we used to sit together, and he was always so humble and engaging and kind."
"He quoted James Madison in talking about angels. I think it’s very important for us to realize that we’re human beings, but we are fragile. I think that speaks also to Chris’ great humility."
John Carr ’83:"He’s our classmate. '83 supports its own."
Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, former Wilson School dean:"I would never miss this, and it was a spectacular speech."
"I thought his point about the better angels of our nature —the famous Madison quote in Federalist 51 —got at something extremely important. It isn’t the content; it’s the relationship between student and teacher that as a parent makes you do it. We are not all so self-motivated."
"[The trustees] need a great constitutional advocate, and they have one."
Jay Freedman, moved to Princeton three months ago:"I just took a walk downtown, saw what was going on, listened to the speech —which was fabulous —went back to the car and fed the meter."
"It’s a beautiful day. It’s nice to see a bunch of people doing something nice."
Janet Rapelye, dean of admission:"I thought it was a shining moment for Princeton. All of the speeches reminded us of why the liberal arts and why the liberal arts education is so important today —and as important as it was 250 years ago. To hear it articulated so clearly and confidently was inspiring."
"I actually just found today affirming about what we do and how we do it. I think Princeton does this education so very well, and today really showed all of us and was a statement, I think, to the whole world that this is what we do and we take it really seriously."
Christina Paxson, Brown president and former Wilson School dean:"Princeton’s a really special place, and I’m just so thrilled that Chris is the president. He’s an old friend and dear friend. A lot of things that were discussed on the stage today —especially by Hunter Rawlings and also by President Eisgruber —are concerned with the values of a liberal education and the need for great research universities. These are issues that all of us are dealing with and thinking about and talking about. So it’s nice to have this kind of president solidarity."
"Everybody’s going to feel good coming out of this event today. No surprises, no controversies —just a really nice day."
Paul Raeder, works in Annual Giving:"He did a great job. I’ve heard Chris speak a lot, and I think this is about the best thing he’s done."
Clayton Marsh ’85, deputy dean of college and presidential search committee member:"It’s just a wonderful culmination of a process that worked beautifully."
"I loved the comparison between constitutionalism and liberal arts education as long-term, far-sighted endeavors."
Gideon Rosen, philosophy professor and member of presidential search committee: "I find it very moving to see the value of the University reaffirmed so completely convincingly in so many different ways by every constituency in the University. These are occasions where people stand up and reflect for a little bit on why this thing we spend our lives doing matters. Sometimes what comes out is boilerplate, but sometimes what comes out is fresh and shows that somebody’s actually taken a second to step back and really think about why this matters."
"There’s always some anxiety in the back of your mind about whether you’re doing the right thing —it wasn’t particularly serious anxiety in my case —but it’s completely clear, when you hear Chris Eisgruber stepping into the role publicly for the first time, that he’s obviously the right guy for the job. It’s impossible to doubt that having heard him talk today."
Jeffrey Tulis, Eisgruber's former professor at Princeton: "He’s had the ability to translate very smart insights into a kind of rhetoric that serves the institution very well. It’s not the same thing as an academic argument"