F. Scott Fitzgerald or Thornton Wilder?
Donald Rumsfeld or John Foster Dulles?
Meg Whitman or Jeff Bezos?
James Madison or Woodrow Wilson?
Over the last 261 years, these and approximately 120,000 other men and women have marched out into the world as graduates of the university now known as Princeton. They have become heads of state and congressional leaders; made careers as doctors, lawyers, and business executives; forged the nation and pushed back the veil of science and discovery; won prizes, honors, and awards.
So it might seem daring, daunting, fascinating, foolish — pick your adjective — to try to single out the 25 who have been the most influential. But where more circumspect souls might have feared to tread, PAW has rushed in. We assembled a panel of eight knowledgeable observers and asked them to pick and rank the 25 most influential Princetonians of all time. The list you see in this issue represents their conclusions.
We tried to make sure that our panelists represented a range of interests and specialties so that all areas in which people might be influential were considered. Members of the panel (find more information about them here) were Elizabeth Bogan, senior lecturer in economics; Eddie S. Glaude Jr. *97, the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies; Todd Purdum ’82, national editor at Vanity Fair magazine; William Russel, the Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Chemical Engineering and dean of the Graduate School; David Spergel ’82, the Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy on the Class of 1897 Foundation and chairman of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences; Emily Thompson *92, professor of history; Sean Wilentz, the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era; and Michael Wood, the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature.