Corrections or additions?
These articles by Anne Levin and Bart Jackson were prepared for the
May 30, 2007 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Princeton Reunion Lectures
Back in 1957 when Jon Hlafter was a freshman at Princeton University,
there were some 3 million gross square feet of floor space on the
campus. That figure has tripled in the past five decades. And Hlafter,
who as been at Princeton University for 39 years and now has the title
of university architect, has been watching and monitoring all along.
This expansion is the topic of a talk Hlafter will deliver at the
university’s reunions celebration on Friday, June 1, at 9 a.m. at
McDonnell Hall, room A01. The talk is sponsored by the Class of 1957.
While the campus has blossomed in both its size and its architectural
diversity, its growth is actually not that unusual, says Hlafter.
"It’s important to say that it is in the nature of universities to
grow, because human knowledge is always growing," he says. "And it is
the purpose of universities to explore and understand our world."
Hlafter’s talk will focus not on architecture (the campus has
buildings by Robert Venturi, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, and other
celebrated architects), but rather on simply how the campus has
changed visually in the second half of the 20th and early 21st
"It’s about the evolution of the campus," Hlafter says. "I’ll be using
some diagrams that show how it has grown from 1756 to the present."
There was virtually no growth on the Princeton campus between the
years of the Great Depression through World War II and beyond.
Firestone Library, built in 1948, was the only new construction of
significance during that period. Dillon Gymnasium had burned during
the war, so it was reconstructed and enlarged. But in the decade of
the 1960s, everything changed.
"The reason for what turned out to be a very dramatic period of growth
in the `60s and early `70s was several fold," Hlafter says. "The
Russians set up Sputnik in 1957 and Princeton University, like many
universities across the country, realized that new science buildings
were needed to improve the education of our youth in various areas of
technology. The combination of that and just the general need to
modernize after so long of a period of no building resulted in a very
significant expansion in a very short time."
Contemporary buildings began to appear on the campus, which had until
then been built in a traditional style. "In order to add to the campus
as efficiently and economically as possible, the buildings were pretty
much designed in what I suppose most people would call a modern
style," says Hlafter. "And therefore that was a break from the earlier
buildings in the first third of the 20th century which were Collegiate
By the early 1970s, Princeton University had built a number of
laboratories. It had used a gift from the Jadwin family to construct
both Jadwin Hall for the Department of Physics, and Jadwin Gymnasium
for the Department of Athletics. There was a brief hiatus in the
mid-1970s, Hlafter says, when the priority was to consolidate people
in a new set of circumstances and in some cases squeeze additional
faculty and staff into existing buildings.
As the university began to develop its residential college system and
women were admitted, the undergraduate student body grew from about
3,200 to about 4,500. In about 1980 it was decided that all freshmen
and sophomores would be assigned to residential colleges.
"In that period, existing buildings were reused in order to allow 5
residential colleges to operate," says Hlafter. "Rockefeller and
Mathey made use of dormitories in the northwest corner of the campus.
Butler and Wilson were in the middle of the campus, and Forbes emerged
from the residential college that had formed about the former
Princeton Inn. All of that happened with relatively little new
construction, except for Wu Hall by Venturi."
Campus expansion was slow but steady in the 1980s. There was
significant growth of research in molecular biology, and three
laboratories were built to accommodate that. The university is now
anticipating completion of the new science library at the corner of
Washington Road and Ivy Lane, designed by the celebrated Gehry.
More change is coming, and Hlafter plans to address not only a history
of the past, but also conceptual plans for the future.
– Anne Levin
It’s chemical name, theobroma, translates into "food of the gods."
Many who have savored a rich morsel of chocolate melting on the tongue
agree that it does contain a hint of the divine. Historically
chocolate has served as a religious host, cash crop, currency, and
child pacifier. It has been endowed with mythic powers and credited as
a hallucinogen, aphrodisiac, panacea treacle, and the way to a woman’s
Exactly what draws us to this dark indulgence ranges far beyond the
scope of the laboratory. But Princeton assistant chemistry professor
Stefan Bernhard will do his best to unravel this magic bean’s mystery
in "The Chemistry of Chocolate" on Friday, June 1, at 2:30 p.m. at the
Frick Laboratory, Kresge Auditorium (Room 120). This Princeton
University Reunions lecture is open to the public.
While he does teach one course on chocolate chemistry, it is scarcely
Bernhard’s life’s research. In fact, most of Bernhard’s days, during
his five years at Princeton, have been spent trying to make better
solar energy for us all. His work involves synthesizing various metal
complex-based materials to develop new light-emitting devices.
Bernhard’s initial fascination with chocolate came from his native
Switzerland. At age 16, prior to leaving for Germany to attend the
University of Freibourg, Bernhard took a job at a local chocolate
factory. Always the chemist, he soon achieved a position in quality
control, checking, testing – and tasting. "I grew to hate the stuff
shortly after working there," he recalls.
Bernhard went off to Freibourg, where he earned his bachelor’s,
master’s and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. But each summer he would
return to work at the hometown chocolate factory. His love for
chocolate gradually returned. "But I like French chocolates best of
all, and in moderation," he says.
Aztecs and Mayas stumbled upon the cacao tree in the moist tropics of
Andean foothills at about 500 to 1,000 feet of elevation. They soon
discovered that this mid-growth tree, about 12 to 25 feet tall,
yielded a large pod filled with beans and pulp from which heaven
itself could be processed. They ground the beans and mixed them with
water to create several beverages, deemed fit only for nobles and
members of the elite priesthood. Aztecs termed this delight
"xXocolatl" (bitter water), a word that morphed into "chocolate."
From the tree. There are three initial, much-debated steps to the
cocoa harvesting process that growers and chocolatiers agonize over as
the key to quality. After the beans and pulp are plucked from the pod,
they must be quickly sun dried for somewhere between three to seven
days. Not long enough, and there will be mold instead of fermentation,
too long and the flavor will be burned away.
Next, the beans are roasted, de-shelled, and ground. Again, how long
and how finely differs from producer to producer. This final grinding
of the bean’s core produces a chocolate liquor that, when cooled,
becomes basic baker’s chocolate. Then, depending on recipe, much of
the cocoa butter (the bean’s edible fat) is removed.
Dark chocolate is created from the liquor by adding sugar, some cocoa
butter, and a dash of vanilla. Milk chocolate has all these, plus some
dry milk powder. White chocolate has no chocolate liquor, but consists
only of cocoa butter and sugar.
To the lab. Chocolate is one of several alkaloid molecules making up
the group called methylxanthines. These molecules occur naturally in
coffee as caffeine, in tea as theophyllene, in cocoa tree as
theobromine, and in other forms in about 60 other plant species. Like
caffeine, chocolate’s theobromine acts initially as a stimulant, but
to a much lesser degree. It generally stays in the body about 6 to 10
Theobromine relaxes the body’s smooth muscles, and thus has been
recommended as a diuretic and as a treatment in cases of mild cardiac
failure. And yes, it is true, chocolate’s relaxing effect and its
ability to dilate blood vessels makes it a proven way to reduce high
blood pressure. Theobromine levels are about double in dark as opposed
to milk chocolate, so for medication purposes, go dark.
Into the mouth. Britain’s Cadbury Chocolate Company keeps tallies on
all national chocolate consumption. New Zealanders, with a huge
Cadbury factory right on their own Southern Isle, eat on average seven
pounds of chocolate annually, while their Australian neighbors double
that with 14. In America we enjoy 17 pounds of chocolate per person
per year, which falls in line with most European nations, where
residents eat between 16 and 18 pounds each year.
But the grand winners of the chocolate appreciation award are, as
expected, the Swiss. The average Swiss, Bernhard’s father, for one,
devours 22 pounds of chocolate year after year.
The one aspect of chocolate consumption that absolutely escapes
Bernhard’s scientific analysis is why women so much prefer it to men.
"I have studied the make up of both genders, and found nothing that
chemically would lead to this," he says. "I even ask my students. The
women admit they crave it more, but they cannot tell me why."
– Bart Jackson
Are we losing the race? For generations American politicians and
pundits have been worried that our nation’s students are dropping the
educational lead. First there worries that the Russians, with their
space-probing prowess, have gotten out in front. Then there was worry
that the disciplined Japanese with their clever, wildly popular
electronics, are ahead. Most recently it appears that residents of
India are coming on strong. However imaginary these global education
Olympics, there is a belief that they lead to economic gold, and they
are taken very seriously.
But Robert Burkhardt, lifelong educator and headmaster of the
innovative Eagle Rock School in Colorado, points to a uniquely
American educational edge. The country’s creativity, he argues, is
being fueled by a system and spirit that will long keep us front
runners. A Princeton alumnus, Burkhardt joins several fellow educators
in an alumni-faculty forum, "Education and Competition: Are American
Children Falling Too Far Behind?," on Friday, June 1, at 9:15 a.m. at
Princeton University’s McCosh Hall, Room 10. This panel discussion is
open to the public.
In addition to Burkhardt, panelists include Tonya Chisolm Miles `82,
Maryland State Board of Education; Misha Simmonds `97, associate
partner, NewSchools Venture Fund; and Lisa Lazarus `02, teacher,
Rafael Hernandez School.
It would be hard find an educational niche into which Burkhardt has
not ventured during his teaching career. Born in Central Valley, New
York, along the Hudson, he spent his boyhood near Washington Crossing.
After graduating from Princeton in l962, Burkhardt earned a master’s
degree in administrative education from Columbia Teachers College. He
earned a doctorate in education from Cincinnati’s Union Graduate
School. His thesis was the founding of a working alternative high
He then taught at the college level for several years, ending up in
San Francisco in time to take over Governor Jerry Brown’s brainchild,
the California Conservation Corps. Based on the Civilian Conservation
Corps of the Depression era, this initiative involved having
youngsters building, serving, and enthusiastically learning. It worked
so well that under then-San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein,
Burkhardt brought the program to the city level.
In l989 American Honda hired Tom Dean and Makato Itobashi to come up
with an innovative education institution, and both men thought of
Burkhardt. Together they formed Eagle Rock School, set high in Estes
Living and working here are 96 high school students. Each comes from
an at-risk situation where graduation was deemed unlikely, and all are
turning their lives around.
"The school is based on the idea that the desire to learn is innate,"
says Burkhardt. "It simply needs to be individually fostered in the
right manner." In addition to experimental student programs, Eagle
Rock offers a professional development center for teachers, and for
older professionals seeking a second start. Visitors in person and
online, at www.ceschangelab.org, are welcome.
"The world may be getting flatter with high tech knowledge making
great strides in India and China," says Burkhardt, "but the new Bill
Gates and Steve Jobs, and the spirit that launched Google are still
coming from America." Burkhardt thinks the whole concept of
we-versus-they educational yardsticks are defeating, but for those who
insist, he happily enumerates America’s assets and liabilities.
Land of innovation. Probably our greatest educational strength, says
to Burkhardt, is the one most taken for granted. Since the adoption of
the U.S. Constitution, America has made the commitment to teach 100
percent of its young people. In most other nations five percent still
remains the maximum commitment. By whatever method, America simply
gets more of its youngsters educated to a higher level than anywhere
else. It gives more people more tools.
Secondly, Americans are in love with the clever idea, backed by hard
work. The old Horatio Alger stories invariably involved people who
blended these two. Leonard Bernstein, speaking at John Hopkins in
l987, said that "imagination is the key component to success." Daniel
Rink, an international computer genius who has reinvented the
networking industry, predicts that "the future belongs to people who
can synthesize ideas."
By fiction or fact, American success is seldom earned by scholarly
education alone, as is often the case in Pacific Rim nations, nor by
finding favor with those in power. The intellectual melting pot has
done away with any one sure path to success. For an American to rise
to the top, he must think.
The process of starting a business remains comparatively simple in the
United States, and we seek education that will fit our children for
this task. Ten years ago the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
moved humanities classes from elective to mandatory. When asked why,
the school’s president responded, "because too many MIT graduates end
up working for graduates from Harvard and Yale."
Whether it’s our traditional emphasis on the individual carving his
own path, early childhood filled with playful imaginative games, or
simply the fiscal rewards from a successful startup, "believe it,
America’s creative DNA is alive and well," says Burkhardt.
Foreign competition. With more singular cultures and longer
traditions, other nations find themselves inadvertently hemming in the
creative DNA that is fostered in the American educational system.
Given the fact that no nation’s youth are inherently smarter or more
creative at birth than any other, Burkhardt invites us to examine the
educational systems themselves.
Nations like India and China are producing a great number of very
highly skilled technical graduates. But these nations are striving to
survive, while the United States is striving to flourish.
Burkhardt estimates that these struggling nations will require several
generations of successfully feeding themselves well before creative
juices can be truly unleashed. They are in an atmosphere that does not
– cannot – allow great risk taking. "And imagination demands that," he
In the established nations, such as Germany, the rest of the European
Union, and Japan, a tight educational collar, linked to an equally
tight business milieu, often constrains top talent.
Encouraging trends. Burkhardt says that the increased move toward
small, personal schools over the last 15 years has proved to be one of
the most significant educational improvements in this country.
Back in the l950s, when classes were booming, educators espoused the
mega high school. Such big schools, they argued, could offer the
students more: full orchestras, for example, and a wider variety of
sports and courses.
The problem was that none of the students knew each other, and most of
the "athletes" sat on the bench while only the top 11 played. "Now
private foundations and municipalities are developing schools from 50
to 300 students, where learning becomes personal again," says
In addition to the more personal atmosphere, educators are trying
desperately to banish the formulaic teaching environment. Burkhardt
cites Wendy Kopp, Princeton University Class of l990, who founded
Teach for America (www.teachforamerica.org). Kopp’s program has gotten
Ivy League students teaching in inner-city high schools in a number of
cities, including Camden and Detroit, to the benefit of both
instructor and student.
Burkhardt admits it is impossible to undertake teaching 100 percent of
America’s children without some formalized standards, but with so many
different, individualized approaches, he sees great educational hope.
"Just look at the product," he says. "I see hundreds of extremely
bright young kids being turned away from even second tier colleges. We
have nothing to fear."
– Bart Jackson
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.