Members of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) welcomed a new dean of religious life, learned about the University's upcoming capital campaign and presented Princeton's Second Life campus at their first meeting of the academic year yesterday.
The first item on the agenda was President Tilghman's introduction of Alison Boden, dean of religious life and the chapel, who served as the dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago for the past 12 years.
Since starting her job on Aug. 1, Boden said she's been thinking about ways the Office of Religious Life can be relevant to all members of Princeton's diverse community.
"I've tried to think of ways that we can get to core ethics of who we are as individuals and what we want to be as an institution," she said. "What are the higher level things we actually agree on?"
When asked what members of the University community could do to facilitate her work, Boden's answer was simple. "Talk to me," she said. "Any old time. Give me your ideas. Tell me what your experiences are. I'm very grateful for [the CPUC] that brings in people from across the institution. I want very much to know what it's like to be here, what great things are coming along."
After Boden's introduction, Michele Minter, director of development for capital and individual gifts, gave a 30-minute presentation on the University's upcoming capital campaign. The seven-year effort will raise more than $1.75 billion and include approximately 500,000 gifts.
The meeting then turned to the University's official presentation of its Second Life program, a 3D virtual world where everyone can fly or take off all their clothes, and where most men are well over eight feet tall.
Janet Temos GS '01, director of the educational technologies center, said the University first started the project in January and started seriously developing its online presence last March. Princeton's current campus includes a virtual U-Store, Nassau Hall, Chancellor Green and Alexander Hall, all electronically designed using photographs from the interior and exterior of each building.
At one point in the discussion, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel asked Temos, "Who's deciding how Princeton is portrayed?"
"I have talked to some people, but I will do anything anyone wants because it is very important to me that we have a very credible presence in this world," Temos responded.
The University owns eight islands, four of which are densely populated. "We are a part of a continent of institutions of higher education," Temos said.
But the University recently had a squabble with MIT over virtual open space. As a result, Princeton shifted its islands further away from the space MIT claimed as its own. "They have us blocked off," Temos said with a smile. "You can go to Cornell, though. They're quite nice to us."
Tilghman said she "can imagine this is an incredible time sink for students, faculty and staff ... I could waste a lot of time fooling around on this."
Temos agreed that Second Life could be distracting but said she has "found a community here that is interested in the same intellectual things I am. I think it's a valid teaching tool because of the great suggestions I've gotten from faculty on how they'd like to use it." In addition to designing its virtual campus, the University spent $1,675 in startup fees to Linden Labs with an additional monthly membership fee of $195.
Temos said the University has 20 years of recorded public lectures that members of the University community and the general public would be able to access in Second Life, where it is easy for users to access podcasts and vodcasts. Second Life members can also sign up for email alerts or RSS feeds of events at virtual Princeton.
The three most intricately designed buildings on the virtual campus are Nassau Hall, Chancellor Green and Alexander Hall, Temos said, though the Wilson School and some science departments have asked to be added to the campus.
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