To the Editor: Town Gown Context

Let me commend Michele Alperin for the depth and detail of her article, “Town vs. Gown: Tough Times & Tough Talk” (May 27). Let us back up for a minute and think of the larger context of the issue and its history.

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America, which is at once the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America (according to Mansfield and Winthrop of Harvard) and close to defining the character of America.

Long before de Tocqueville remarked on it, a sterling feature of American society became apparent, namely, the volunteer giving time to something that mattered. The Continental Congress was composed of volunteers (farmers, merchants, educators, doctors). No one paid them to come to Philadelphia, or Princeton, to draft the Constitution.

The fact that we have some two million not-for-profits in America today is hard to absorb, even though we have an inkling of their staggering diversity and aims. They are driven by voluntary leadership that, one way or other, embraces most of the adult population in America and drives the agenda of our society.

In the current case in point, we have a thriving University, even though it has been hard hit by the severe blow to its endowment (like most of us regarding our savings), whose presence lifts all of our lives in ways we rarely reckon fully. When one considers the impact of the University on the quality of our lives and the local economy, we find that few places in America to be as appealing and attractive.

Some years ago, I visited 75 liberal colleges to understand the nature and extent of their contributions to their communities (“building bridges across the moat”) as executive director of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. All were impressive in some ways, but none approached the reach and grace of this University.

With regard to the shrill voices asking for the University, as a not-for-profit whose mission is to educate and create knowledge and governed by a group of volunteers, to do more than its five million dollars plus for local schools and governance, perhaps they could ask themselves what else they could do to contribute for our community that would be truly constructive.

Scott McVay

McVay, a 1955 Princeton graduate and a Princeton resident, served as assistant to President Robert Goheen in the 1960s and later was founding executive director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Cancer Survey Call

This year Middlesex County residents have an unprecedented opportunity to directly participate in a nationwide cancer study and make an impact on the lives of many. The third Cancer Prevention Study of the American Cancer Society (“CPS-3”) will be enrolling participants at only a few select locations in New Jersey. One opportunity will take place at Relay for Life of Woodbridge, Colonia High School on Friday, June 19, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Individuals who participate will complete a brief questionnaire and give a waist measurement and a small blood sample. After enrollment, study participants will be followed over time to update information via mailed questionnaires every few years. Your involvement in the study will help American Cancer Society researchers understand the causes of and ultimately determine ways to prevent cancer.

If you are 30 to 65 years old and never have been diagnosed with cancer, you will want to participate in this study. If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements, your significant participation comes from telling everyone you know about the opportunity.

I encourage you to enroll in Cancer Prevention Study-3, the Woodbridge Relay for Life event. For additional information on CPS-3, visit or call 800-227-2345 to learn more about the difference you can make in the fight against cancer.

Ruthanne Brown

American Cancer Society

Media & Publicity Senior Volunteer

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