Ninety-four college presidents, including the leaders of the University’s Ivy League peers, signed a LETTER TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION condemning its investigation of Princeton’s adherence to federal nondiscrimination law — a probe sparked by President Eisgruber ’83’s September letter about combating systemic racism. “It is outrageous that the Department of Education is using our country’s resources to investigate an institution that is committed to becoming more inclusive by reckoning with the impact in the present of our shared legacies of racism,” the letter from the presidents said. (Read full text at bit.ly/doe-letter.) Asked whether the University had provided materials to investigators within 21 days, as requested, University spokesman Ben Chang said after that deadline passed that Princeton will respond “in due course.”


Princeton suspended undergraduate participation in STUDY-ABROAD PROGRAMS for the spring 2021 semester, citing uncertainty about in-person instruction and international travel restrictions. The suspension includes non-Princeton programs, according to the Office of International Programs. 


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
In October, associate professor of chemistry MOHAMMAD SEYEDSAYAMDOST was one of 21 people to receive a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, an unrestricted grant of $625,000 over five years. According to a MacArthur Foundation press release, Seyedsayamdost was recognized with its so-called “genius” grant for “investigating the synthesis of new small molecules with bioactive or therapeutic properties.” With cross appointments in molecular biology, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Seyedsayamdost studies bacteria and how they communicate and compete using so-called small molecules. In 2014, he developed a new method to watch these molecules react in various situations, revealing new molecular structures with unusual bond patterns that might be used to create new antibiotic compounds for medicinal use. 


Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times/Redux
IN MEMORIAM: STEPHEN F. COHEN, professor emeritus of politics, died Sept. 18 in New York City. He was 81. Cohen joined the faculty in 1968 and taught at Princeton until 1998. In college, he developed an interest in Russian language and the Soviet Union, which shaped the course of his career. He wrote extensively about Russian political leaders, the fall of the Soviet Union, and post-communist Russia, among other topics. His work influenced Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his administration during the 1980s. Cohen’s books include Voices of Glasnost: Interviews With Gorbachev’s Reformers (1989), written with his wife, Katrina vanden Heuvel ’81, and War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate (2018).


For the record

This page has been updated to correct Mohammad Seyedsayamdost’s departmental cross-appointments.