Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research
Do you recognize this petroglyph? It is on the west wall of Dillon Gym at the bottom of the short flight of stairs which lead toward Pyne Hall. It was installed on the occasion of our 25th Reunion to commemorate our class gift of a $100,000 scholarship, now known as the Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research.
In 1980, Princeton University was the beneficiary of the 25 year term life insurance policies which Jim Babcock, class agent in 1955, had convinced 94% of classmates to purchase. These policies, with an annual premiums of $10 to $ 20, constituted the Class Memorial Fund. When that fund matured in 1980, it yielded just over $307,930. Instead of adding the entire sum to the great anonymous pool of unrestricted gifts, our class elected to use $100,000 to endow a scholarship to help students defray the expenses involved in creating their senior thesis (read Pres. Charlie Mapes 1980 letter)
. Another $5,000 was used to install the memorial niche pictured at the left. The remaining $202,930 was added to the Annual Giving total of $1,035,709. In 1980, our gift was Princeton's all class, all time record.
For the past 42 years, our gift has steadily appreciated. The Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research, as of June 1, 2021, had a market value of $2,916,421.00. To date, 1366 seniors have benefited. Last year, 31 members of the Class of 2021 shared some portion of $112,401.00, mostly in the form of travel grants and living expenses. When you read their thank you letters, you will be very impressed by how eloquently they describe a wide variety of thesis topics.
The Office of the Dean of the College receives proposals from department heads and allocates annual awards.
Even though there is income of $116,989.00 available for distribution this year, grants from the Fifty Five Fund
have been insufficient to provide support for every applicant. Click here to read a five year report
and thank you letters.