Philanthropy 101: Scourge of Campus
Princeton president Woodrow Wilson was determined. Officials of other universities had never had much luck in soliciting donations from Andrew Carnegie, but none had pushed so hard. Princeton had "Scottish connections," Wilson stressed: "She has been largely made by Scotsmen, being myself of pure Scots blood, it heartens me to emphasize the fact."
In 1904, Carnegie visited Princeton. Accompanied by Trustee Grover Cleveland, Wilson took the steel baron over every inch of the campus. He reviewed plans for new graduate school facilities, pointed out the inadequate libraries and laboratories, introduced Carnegie to the faculty-and, most fatefully, toured the athletic facilities.
Carnegie perked up at discussion of Princeton's football program. He disapproved of football, which he felt groomed America's promising young men for violence and deception. Football, Carnegie felt, was an indirect threat to the cause of peace. Presented with an opportunity to act, he seized upon it.
"I know exactly what Princeton needs, and I intend to give it to her," he announced. "It is a lake," Carnegie told the surprised Wilson. "Princeton should have a rowing crew to compete with Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. That will take young men's minds off football." The cooperative effort of Rowing, Carnegie hoped, would provide a better model for global relations than gridiron sport.
Two years and $400,000 later, the three-mile lake was completed. At the opening ceremony, Carnegie told grumbling undergraduates that he hoped the lake would replace the football field as the center of Princeton's athletic attentions: "I have never seen a football game, but I have glanced at pictures of such games, and to me the spectacle of educated young men rolling over one another in the dirt was-well, not gentlemanly."
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