Sameer A. Khan h'21

Imani Perry, a professor of African American studies, won the 2022 National Book Award for nonfiction for South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. In their citation for the award, the judges wrote that South to America is “elegantly personal and archival, predictive and bold, sweet and soulful, and, most of all, true.”

Perry delivered an emotional acceptance speech at the Nov. 16 ceremony, saying that artists and intellectuals are obliged to bear witness and be truthful. “We may write in solitude, but we labor in solidarity,” she said. “Community is never easy but absolutely necessary. Let us meet the challenges of a broken world together, making intercessions with love unbound and heart without end.”

Princeton announced two changes in major administrative roles: Computer science professor Jennifer Rexford ’91 was appointed as the next provost, and chemical and biological engineering professor Pablo Debenedetti will step down as dean for research after 10 years in the role.

Rexford, a former Pyne Prize winner who chairs the computer science department and has been on the faculty since 2005, will become provost March 13, taking over for Deborah Prentice, who is leaving Princeton to become vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The provost leads Princeton’s budgeting process, oversees long-term planning, and serves as the chief academic officer.

Debenedetti has led Princeton’s research agenda and overseen growth in sponsored research and industry and foundation awards. He also created the role of vice dean for innovation and initiated funding programs that encourage faculty to take risks and follow their curiosity, according to a University release.

The University will distribute up to $2 million per year in support of applied energy research through the Energy Research Fund, which was created to offset funds that Princeton will no longer receive because of its dissociation from fossil-fuel companies. Prior to its dissociation announcement, the University received funding for the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment E-filliates Partnership from Exxon Mobil, which pledged $5 million over a five-year term beginning in 2015 and renewed its commitment in 2020.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, an emeritus professor at Princeton and professor of philosophy and law at New York University, will deliver the Baccalaureate address during the Class of 2023’s Commencement weekend in May. Appiah, an author and philosopher whose work appears weekly in The Ethicist column of The New York Times Magazine, taught at Princeton for 12 years and wrote the University’s first Pre-read selection, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolution Happens.