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Princeton alumni group names McNair as ‘distinguished alumna’

June 13, 2019

Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber greets President Lily D. McNair
Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber greets President Lily D. McNair
during a class of 1979 alumni dinner as part of Princeton’s recent alumni
reunion weekend. (Photo credit: Sameer A. Kahn, Princeton University)

Catherine Toppin, Esq., Association of Black Princeton Alumni
Michael Tullier, APR, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing


In early June, President Lily D. McNair returned to her native New Jersey — and the campus of her alma mater, Princeton University — to be honored by the university’s Association of Black Princeton Alumni as a recipient of its annual Distinguished Alumni Award.

Each year, ABPA leaders seek to honor alumni who are successful in their careers and who have brought honor to the Princeton name by exemplifying the highest ideals and traditions captured in the phrase “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.”

“Dr. McNair’s scholarship, leadership and career dedicated to educating black students is certainly inspiring and worthy of recognition,” said Catherine Toppin, a 2002 Princeton graduate and a past ABPA president who nominated McNair for the honor. “She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word, and ABPA is honored to highlight her achievements.”

McNair completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at Princeton in 1979. In addition to being the first in her family to go to college, she was among the first African-American women to attend Princeton — just six years after the university became coed. In March 2019, Princeton Alumni Weekly featured McNair’s experiences as a Princetonian in the late-1970s in an article entitled, “Lily McNair ’79: The Trailblazer.”

In addition to McNair, the APBA bestowed a second Distinguished Alumna Award this year to Angelique Brunner, who earned her graduate degree from Princeton in 1997. It has presented these awards annual since the early 1980s. Past ABPA honorees include current Alabama congresswoman and 1986 Princeton graduate Terri Sewell, as well as political activist, author and 1980 Princeton graduate Dr. Cornel West.

The Association of Black Princeton Alumni seeks to strengthen relationships among Princeton’s more than 5,550 African-American alumni, as well as with the broader Princeton University community, through networking and mentoring, and by promoting a stronger sense of community and mutual support.

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