…I do believe that an appreciation of and involvement in the arts is an integral part of a rich and full life. It helps you to understand the various cultures in the world.
After a degree in applied math and statistics from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard, I have followed a financial and investment career all of my working life. With this background, why did I become so passionately involved in the development of the arts at Princeton? I am not an artist; I can’t create beauty; I can’t paint; I can’t carry a tune; and my only exposure to the performing arts is to sit in the audience and applaud.
But I do believe that an appreciation of and involvement in the arts is an integral part of a rich and full life. It helps you to understand the various cultures in the world. Princeton had a world-class art museum and many wonderful faculty, but its other arts facilities back in the late 1970s—particularly in the performing arts—were substandard. When I first became involved with the performing arts, 185 Nassau was just a retired school building and McCarter Theatre was a tired 50-year-old un-air-conditioned theater with poor acoustics. Neither was suitable to encourage student participation, which is essential if we want to develop in our students a lifelong appreciation of the values of the arts.
I did what I knew best and helped raise the money to turn 185 Nassau into a student-centric visual and performing arts center, to turn McCarter into a modern air-conditioned performance building, and to build— with Roger Berlind, a friend from my undergraduate days—the Berlind Theatre, a more intimate theater for smaller professional and student productions.
Now is an exciting time as we are building the Lewis Arts Center. What a magnificent addition to Princeton’s arts scene that will be. It will be a place where all arts disciplines will interact and collaborate to enrich the student experience. I can’t wait for its opening.