From: Jim Diaz <jimrdiaz13@gmail.com>

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2022 8:14 PM

To: gbrakeley@brakeleybriscoe.com

Subject: Re: Bay Area Mini-Reunion

 

George,

 

Event last night was terrific.  I was told more than 700 alums asked to attend.  The Grand Ballroom and three smaller ballrooms set up for cocktails and canapés were filled to overflowing.  (From our vantage point; younger alums every year !!!)

 

As we waited to be picked up at front door of the St. Francis, we came upon NCAA BB team members returning to the hotel from their activities and/or dinner out.  Unfortunately, downtown SF is still a lonely place.  Although, good to see some activity around the hotel entrance.

 

I have reached out to Dar [Labarthe] and proposed meeting him for lunch next week.  He did not attend event last night.

 

Eisgrubber’s presentation was informal, informative and highly inspirational !!!   He has been a terrific leader and has the school well on its way to full recovery from Covid, and looking forward to continued improvement in the decades ahead.   He shared how they got through the onset of the Covid emergency and the decision to send the student body home ... immediately !!!!   As well as to give the faculty two weeks to transition into virtual classes.

 

He was at his best as he described Princeton’s great conundrum and necessary decision to remove the name of President Wilson from the School, as well as the College.  He was ably assisted by Mellody Hobson ‘91, a truly remarkable and loquacious African American woman.  I have not yet Googled her .... I thought I heard she is an Architect from San Francisco.  She is the epitome of a Princetonian from a disadvantaged community and ethnicity who succeeded from her undergraduate experience.

 

With respect to your concern .... no evidence of dissatisfaction with the direction of the University in the questions from our Nor-Cal audience, or during any informal conversations at cocktail receptions, before and afterwards.  Everyone received the announcement of the upcoming VENTURE FORWARD campaign with great applause.  

 

Eisgrubber did have to clarify his earlier remarks to add that Humanities, Social and Liberal Arts departments will also enjoy substantial benefits from the campaign .... which appears to be primarily oriented to engineering and scientific research.  He emphasized the expansion of the University Museum as a focal point for the Social and Fine Arts in the future.  (I hope I get to see it ..... when opened.)  He went on to describe other enhancements described in today’s “Tiger News”.

 

I always chuckle that as Civil Engineers we were forced to take “Sanitary Engineering 301”, or as we called it “Sewers 101”.  (Including a Saturday morning visit into Princeton’s main sewer line, out on Harrison Street.)  After graduating nine Civil Engineers in 1961, only three were in the Class of 1962, and our department nearly died.  But instead it has enjoyed a miraculous rebirth .... with the advent of the Ecology movement we may now be the single largest subspecialty in the School of Engineering, and are closely affiliated with the Department of Architecture. .... the bridge I managed to cross so long ago.  (No way I could successfully follow the current Civil Engineering curriculum and graduate, today.)

 

Two minor events of note did transpire, last night:  ALPA, the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni, reached out to me to learn if I would be attending.  They managed to spot my 1961 blazer (the only one I saw) and we had a very brief meeting amidst the large and noisy crowd.  They took a picture with Anne and yours truly .... and declared I am the oldest ALPA member among the alumni.  The two women were very enthusiastic and intelligent;  one works at Stanford and the other does volunteer work with indigents along the coast, north of Marin County.  Naturally, my Spanish fluency is better than any of theirs !!!

 

The second was truly SERENDIPITOUS:  During the presentation, a member of the Class of 1960 sat next to us.  Afterwards, he bent my ear to tell me he remembered me from our encounter during Bicker in 1959 !!!  He recalled my interest in Architecture and claims to having been unsuccessful in having me receive a bid to join his Club.  He acknowledged his mates did not fancy a Mexican from West Texas among them.  (Fortunately, the feeling was mutual ...   I too, would not have been comfortable among his Club members.)

 

Most interesting, he resides in Oakland or the East Bay, and has followed the work of our firm for years.  He asked about several of our projects and was aware of my 50+ year partnership with Herb McLaughlin.  TRULY AMAZING EXCHANGE.  Too bad the font used on name tags is so small.   I did not get his name.

 

Well, I will knock off as my iPad battery power wanes.  Trust I have been helpful in describing last night’s happenings !!!!

 

Best to both of you from Anne, who just went out and did not find fresh Dungeness Crab in the market.  This morning, they called an end to the crabbing season because two whales (migrating towards Alaska) were caught up in the fishing lines.  We must wait until next winter.

 

Stay well,  

Jim

 

James R. Diaz |FAIA, FACHA

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