In Response to: Passing the Torch

I can appreciate the challenge of balancing the need for “fresh blood” on the faculty versus keeping the giants around on whose reputations Princeton’s status as an elite university depends (“Passing the Torch,” Dec. 4). But if meeting our newfound diversity objectives requires reaching down for the first time to non-elite universities to fill our quotas, it is only a matter of time before the quality of a Princeton education will suffer. Either “elite” means something or it does not.

If it had been possible to maintain the highest-quality faculty while reaching down, we should have done so long ago for economic efficiency’s sake. If Princeton’s “famed mathematics department” could have attained that reputation without the expense of hiring the best, what would be the point of paying up? Indeed, if elite and non-elite schools produced equally attractive prospects for our faculty, what would be the point of striving for an elite reputation in the first place?

It will be cold comfort for future students, much less alums of a no-longer-elite Princeton, to revel in a campus and faculty that are “broadly representative of the nation as a whole.”

Steve Wunsch ’69
New York, N.Y.