PRINCETON: Reunions, P-rade and a world record at university

Jeff Cullen’s orange pants might have garnered strange looks on any other day of the year except on the Saturday of Princeton University reunions.

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
   Jeff Cullen’s orange pants might have garnered strange looks on any other day of the year except on the Saturday of Princeton University reunions.
   It was that kind of morning and afternoon at the Ivy League school, as thousands of alumni came home to “Old Nassau” to celebrate as they have year after year.
   If they weren’t wearing orange sports jackets, they were wearing something else with orange and black in the color scheme, one outfit more outrageous than the next.
   ”I can’t believe 50 years is gone,” said Marc Auslander, who like Mr. Cullen, is a member of the class of 1963.
   The university had said it expected more than 24,000 alumni and their family would be coming for reunions, a celebration that began Thursday and lasted through the weekend. To keep people busy, there were lectures to feed the mind and class dinners on Friday to feed the body.
   On Saturday, sections of the campus were set up with tables for all the respective reunion parties. Old friends reminisced about the times when they were young men and women, times that 1988 graduate Tom Woelper of Connecticut called the “best four years of my life.”
   He and members of his class celebrating their 25th anniversary reunion later stood on the steps of Blair Arch, one of the signature architectural pieces on the campus, to pose for their group picture. Later, the class of 1998 and others gathered in the same spot to set a new Guinness world record for the most people dressed in tennis gear in one place — 252.
   ”It’s great,” said Beth Brett after the record had been certified by a Guinness representative.
   In the traditional P-rade of alumni that stepped off in the afternoon, graduates marched with their class, including one lone alum from the class of 1935 sitting in the front seat of golf cart. The P-rade on one hand showed the continuity of the school as alumni follow alumni but also how a once all-male place came to have more women and minority students.
   ”The thing that I think I most admire about this university has been the immense affection that we have for who we are and our traditions,” outgoing university President Shirley M. Tilghman said to alumni earlier in the day at Richardson Auditorium.
   ”And yet,” she continued, “it never gets in the way of our being one of the world’s great global universities. It never gets in the way of our continuing to move and to change and to advance and to be not just at the forefront of scholarship but at the leading edge of it at times.”
   Ms. Tilghman, dressed in an orange jacket, black pants and salmon colored shoes, shared the stage with her successor, Christopher L. Eisgruber, the university provost who starts his new job July 1. Ms. Tilghman leaves after 12 years as the first female president of the school.
   Mr. Eisgruber, a 1983 graduate of the university who wore a black and orange-striped sports coat, took questions from the audience, some of whom brought up issues surrounding admission to the selective university.
   One one hand, one 2010 female graduate wanted to know if incoming classes of students were diverse enough, while an older male alumnus warned that alumni would not financially support the university if their children are denied admission.
   Mr. Eisgruber felt there were reasons to care both about “legacy admissions” and diversity.