I am grateful for President Eisgruber’s honesty in his attempt to elucidate his concept of “merit” in our admissions policy (President’s Page, March issue); I am also disturbed by his concept of “merit.”
He seems to feel Princeton’s mission is to produce the nation’s leaders, those who will contribute most to society’s betterment; he forgets the meaning of the second word in our name: University. His expanded vision of our mission seems to have little concern for the concept of “scholarship,” which is central to the mission of any university. I would think the ability of a student to resolve intellectual issues would be a paramount consideration in considering his or her “merit” in the admissions process, far more important than his or her likely future contribution to making our world better, a judgement at which our or any other admissions department is unlikely to be very successful notwithstanding its or their “holistic” approach.
That an applicant has overcome obstacles to attaining a high level of intellectual attainment is of course a favorable factor, but history does not cast a favorable light on allowing too much leeway to admissions departments to sculpt the type of incoming class they welcome to our universities.