Monday 22 April, 2019

Prestigious Princeton University Names Auditorium After Sir Arthur Lewis

One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Princeton, has named a major auditorium after St Lucia's Sir Arthur Lewis, who taught at the school for two decades.

Princeton University's trustees have approved recommendations to name West College, a prominent and central campus building, for the Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, an emeritus faculty member at Princeton, and to name the major auditorium in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for Sir Arthur Lewis, a Nobel laureate in Economics, who served on the school's faculty from 1963 to 1983. The name of former University President Harold Dodds will be transferred from the auditorium to the adjacent atrium that serves as the entryway into Robertson Hall. The new names will take effect on July 1.

The recommendations were made by the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) Committee on Naming, a committee composed of faculty, students, staff and alumni that was established in the fall of 2016 to advise the trustees on the naming of "buildings or other spaces not already named for historical figures or donors to recognize individuals who would bring a more diverse presence to the campus."

The committee made its recommendations after seeking suggestions from throughout the University community, including through a website that provided background information about the two spaces that the trustees asked it to consider. More than 210 people submitted suggestions through the website.

The Naming Committee noted that Sir Arthur Lewis "is an example of someone who brought distinction and diversity to this campus over many years, but whose accomplishments and impact are not known to succeeding generations of Princetonians."

Lewis joined the Princeton faculty in 1963 as a professor of public and international affairs, and later was appointed the James Madison Professor of Political Economics. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in economic development and economic history. The New York Times reported that "students praised Sir Arthur's courses for focusing on ideas rather than numbers." He retired from the faculty in 1983, but remained associated with the University in emeritus status until his death in 1991.

Lewis was knighted in 1963. In 1979 he won the Nobel Prize in economics, and he remains the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in a field other than literature or peace. A native of St. Lucia, he was the first person of African descent to be appointed a professor in Great Britain's university system. Over the course of his career he published over 80 professional articles and wrote 12 books.

Lewis's Nobel Prize recognized his pioneering research into economic development, with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries. In making its recommendation, the Naming Committee noted that "the scope of his research was truly international, and in our judgment it is important to have that message — along with a message about diversity and inclusion — associated with Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs."

Beyond his scholarly distinction and commitment to teaching, Lewis also epitomized the Princeton tradition of public service. He served as economic adviser to the government of Ghana when it gained independence in 1957 and served as a consultant to such other nations as Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Nigeria and Barbados. He served as the first West Indian-born principal and then vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies; chancellor of the University of Guyana; managing director of the United Nations Special Fund; and first president of the Caribbean Development Bank. Arthur Lewis Community College on his home island of St. Lucia is named in his honor.

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