Diversity in Higher Education

Shirley Tilghman is the nineteenth president of Princeton University, and is the first woman to hold the position. Tilghman served on the Princeton faculty for fifteen years before being named President. A native of Canada, Tilghman was educated at Queen's University and Temple University. She is a renowned molecular biologist, known particularly for her pioneering research in mammalian developmental genetics. She served as a member of the National Research Council's committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project and was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project Initiative for the National Institutes of Health.

In 2002, Tilghman was one of five winners of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science.  In the following year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, and in 2007, she was awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to her field.  Tilghman is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Royal Society of London. She chairs the Association of American Universities and serves as a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and as a director of Google Inc.

  • Transcript


I think diversity is embedded in what I would consider a really impactful liberal arts education. What I often say to the freshman class is that you are here at this university to encounter the ‘other’ – to encounter what you have not encountered in your first 18 years of life. Some of that is going to be ideas – ideas you have never encountered, a diversity of ideas. Some of it is going to be the people that you encounter, including people from other cultures, from other countries, from other religious traditions. And they are gonna play as an important role in your education, your broadening of your vision as what you’re going to read in books. So if we were to suddenly eliminate all of the ways in which we are trying to make Princeton a more diverse place, I would argue that the quality of the education we provide would plummet. Recorded on: 8/7/07