Shirley Tilghman to Step Down at Princeton University

Shirley Tilghman

Princeton Univesity

Princeton University president and molecular biologist Shirley Tilghman is stepping down in June after leading the university for 12 years.

Tilghman wrote in a 22 September resignation letter to the Princeton community: "There is a natural rhythm to university presidencies." With a $1.9 billion fundraising campaign completed and her priorities accomplished or on their way, she wrote, "it is time for Princeton to turn to its 20th president to chart the path for the next decade and beyond."

Tilghman gave up her research on mammalian genetics to become Princeton's first female president in 2001. Her letter cites, among other accomplishments, the creation of a neuroscience institute, strengthening the university's chemistry department, launching energy and environmental programs, and increasing the number of students on financial aid.

A longtime proponent of the view that U.S. institutions produce too many biomedical Ph.D.s, Tilghman co-chaired a National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group that recommended in June that NIH curb growth in the number of trainees in part by bolstering training programs and improving working conditions. After taking a year's leave, Tilghman will return to teaching.