On Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006, friends, colleagues, family and alumni gathered in Betts Auditorium in the School of Architecture to honor Princeton’s beloved president emeritus Robert F. Goheen. President Shirley Tighlman said, “It will surprise none of you in this room who know Bob well to hear that it took a little persuading before he would agree to this celebration. For all of you know he is the most unassuming of men. A man who has led us with quite and principled example rather than grand pronouncements all his life.”
Melvin McCray, a member of the class of 1974 talked about the Goheen mandate, the initiative to enroll black students in substantial numbers. “The commitment to African American students was not without difficulty and struggle,” McCray said and went on to tell the story of the first confrontation on campus over black student’s desire to the suspend classes to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. after his assignation in 1968.
It was the opening reception for the Firestone Library exhibition, titled "Student, Scholar, President: Robert F. Goheen at Princeton, 1936-2006." He entered Princeton as a freshman in 1936, went on to earn bachelor’s, master's and doctoral degrees, to serve as a faculty member and, in 1957, became president. Before retiring from the presidency in 1972 Goheen oversaw the admission of large numbers of black students, women and delicately maneuvered the university through tumultuous years of anti-war protests. After retiring he served as president of the Council on Foundations and ambassador to India. Goheen died in 2008 at the age of 88.