Princeton's First Female President Shirley Tilghman Stepping Down

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After 11 years in the job Shirley Tilghman, Princeton University’s first female president, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year.

In her time there Tilghman was part of the committee that set the blueprint for the Human Genome Project. She also served as a role model for women in the sciences as a teacher of molecular biology at the Ivy League School.

In an exit interview, Shirley Tilghman reflects on what she considers to be her biggest accomplishment at Princeton, creating access to the school for students who never imagined they could afford an Ivy League education at their dream school.

The accomplishment that Tilghman is most proud of in her tenure as president of the university, is increasing the amount of financial aid given to students, and eliminating loans from that equation.

"Today, over 60 percent of the class is receiving aid, and it's all in the form of grants. We eliminated loans in 2001," Tilghman says.

As a female leader in science, Tilghman says that one advantage young women who aspire to careers in science today have that she did not have is role models. "There are many more women who have pursued really successful careers in science," she says. "Having said that, I would also say that we are still not where we need to be in all branches of science." 

"We've come a long way," she says of women in science, "but we still have a long way to go."

Shirley Tilghman hopes to follow the path of her predecessor, Harold Shapiro, who went on to be a public servant after leaving the presidency at Princeton.