IAS Notes: Fouad J. Masrieh

I was at the Institute for the academic year 1971–72 as Research Assistant to Clifford Geertz. This was prior to the establishment of the School of Social Science in 1973, so the number of social scientists was only a handful, including myself, the only junior member. I learned a great deal during that year, particularly from Clifford Geertz and David Riesman, both of whom were exceptionally generous and inspiring mentors. Equally important was my interaction with other Members, and in particular a group of young physicists with whom I engaged in a wide-ranging cross-disciplinary dialogue over lunch on most days. In my experience, the Institute truly lived up to its reputation as a haven for complete intellectual liberty. Shortly after my stay at the Institute, I left the academic world to pursue a career in finance, which resulted in overseas assignments for some thirty years. In the business world, the words “academic” and “intellectual” have negative connotations, and I was often advised by search consultants not to include my year at the Institute on my CV, but I always insisted on keeping it there. In my mind, the year I spent at the Institute was a major factor in my success in the business world. Upon retirement in 2006, I returned to live in Princeton, partly because of the attraction of the Institute. —Fouad J. Masrieh, Research Assistant, School of Social Science, 1971–72