Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Famous Princetonians - Volume One

As America heads to the polls this November, two issues will be on the minds of most voters: the war in Iraq and our ailing economy. Interestingly enough, both crises are managed by competent and humble leaders - who have either educated students or been educated in the halls of Old Nassau. This week, we spotlight these two famous Princetonians - General David H. Petraeus and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke - in a less-than-conventional portrait that goes beyond the CDOs and the IEDs.

David H. Petraeus (b. 1952)
- Commanding General, Multi-National Forces - Iraq
- Received his MPA (1985) and Ph.D (1987) in International Relations from the Wilson School
- Middle name is 'Howell'; Childhood nickname was 'Peaches', due to his often-mispronounced last name and his lack of facial hair
- According to his West Point yearbook entry, was "always going for it in sports, academics, leadership, and even his social life" (i.e. a natural shoe-in for Princeton)
- Was accidentally shot in the chest during a live-fire exercise in 1991, and subsequently taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was operated on by future U.S. Senator (and Woody Woo colleague) Bill Frist
- Was profiled by Tom Clancy in the novel 'Airborne'
- As major general of the 101st Airborne Division, was called the 'Mayor of Mosul' by the locals and 'King David' by his troops
- Testifying in Congress was easy, compared with his thesis defense at Princeton
- Ph.D dissertation was on "The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era"; hopefully, history will not repeat itself under his watch

Ben S. Bernanke (b. 1953)
- 14th Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
- Former Chairman of Princeton's Department of Economics, 1996-2002 (his homepage is still active)
- Middle name is 'Shalom'; First name is 'Ben', not 'Benjamin'
- Co-authored the textbook you are now using in ECO 101
- Father was a part-time theater manager; grandfather was a professional Torah reader
- Was an All-State saxophonist in high school
- Worked as a waiter at South of the Border in his hometown of Dillon, SC during summers to pay for college
- Ph.D dissertation at MIT was on "Long-term commitments, dynamic optimization, and the business cycle"; his thesis adviser was current Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer
- As a professor at Princeton, managed to keep grade inflation low and stable
- Wrote extensively on the political and economic causes of the Great Depression; hopefully, history will not repeat itself under his watch