Harold Tafler Shapiro

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Harold Tafler Shapiro
18th President of Princeton University
In office
Preceded byWilliam G. Bowen
Succeeded byShirley Tilghman
10th President of the University of Michigan
In office
Preceded byAllan F. Smith (interim)
Robben Wright Fleming
Succeeded byRobben Wright Fleming (interim)
James J. Duderstadt
Personal details
Born (1935-06-08) June 8, 1935 (age 84)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Spouse(s)Vivian Shapiro
ResidenceNew Jersey
Alma materMcGill University (BA, MA, LLD)
Princeton University (PhD)
AwardsWilliam D. Carey Award for Leadership in Science Policy (2006),
Clark Kerr Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education (2008),
NAS Public Welfare Medal (2012)
Scientific career
FieldsEconometrics, science policy, education
OccupationProfessor of Economics, Princeton University

Harold Tafler Shapiro (born June 8, 1935) is an economist and university administrator. He is a former president of Princeton University and the University of Michigan.


Born to a Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec,[1] Harold Shapiro attended Lower Canada College, a prestigious independent school in Montreal. He earned his B.Comm, with honors, from the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in 1956 and his Ph.D from Princeton University in 1964, both in the field of economics.[2][3]

Shapiro's parents owned the famous Ruby Foo's in Montreal. After his father's untimely death, the restaurant was passed down to him and his twin brother, Bernard, who would later become the first Ethics Commissioner of Canada and 14th Principal of McGill University. Harold managed the restaurant while studying economics at McGill University, where he also began graduate school until he moved to Princeton University.[4]

He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan as assistant professor of economics in 1964. He held a variety of academic and administrative appointments, including as Chairman of its Department of Economics and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, until his selection as President of that university in 1980. He was President of Michigan until he left to become President of Princeton University in 1988. As Princeton's President, Shapiro oversaw the largest increase in the university endowment in the history of the school.[5] Shapiro was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1990. He announced his retirement from the presidency of Princeton in Fall 2000 to take effect in June 2001. Shirley Tilghman, his successor, took office on June 15 of the following year.[6]

Shapiro continues to live in Princeton, and is professor emeritus in the departments of economics and public policy at the University. He is trustee emeritus of the Institute for Advanced Study. His present academic interests include bioethics, on which he writes extensively. Shapiro chaired the National Bioethics Advisory Commission during President Bill Clinton's second term. He also sits on the boards of a number of prominent nonprofit ventures, including HCA (founded by the Frist family, which donated the Frist Campus Center to Princeton), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution.[7] He also served on the United States Olympic Committee for a number of years, and was a director of Dow Chemical Company.[8]

His fields of specialization in economics include econometrics, science policy, and the evolution of postsecondary education.[9] He is author of several books, including A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society (Princeton University Press, 2005). In 2000, Shapiro received the Council of Scientific Society Presidents Citation for Outstanding Leadership. In 2008, he was awarded the Clark Kerr Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education, presented annually by the University of California-Berkeley Academic Senate. He also received the William D. Carey Award for leadership in Science Policy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science..[10]

Personal life[edit]

Harold Shapiro has been married to Vivian Shapiro for 53 years. Together they have four children: Anne, Marilyn, Janet and Karen. They also have 11 grandchildren. Vivian was a practicing psychologist and earned her PhD. His daughter, Janet, is a professor of psychology and social work at the School of Social Work at Bryn Mawr College. His daughter, Karen, is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Rutgers School of Health Professions.[11]


  1. ^ Synnott, Marcia Graham (2013). Student Diversity at the Big Three: Changes at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton since the 1920s. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-4128-1461-4.
  2. ^ "Harold Tafler Shapiro". Princeton University. November 26, 2013.
  3. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/02/education/profile-a-pair-of-presidents-keep-it-all-in-the-family.html
  4. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/02/education/profile-a-pair-of-presidents-keep-it-all-in-the-family.html
  5. ^ https://scholar.princeton.edu/hts/home
  6. ^ https://pr.princeton.edu/hts/bio.html
  7. ^ The Hastings Center Hastings Center Fellows. Accessed November 6, 2010
  8. ^ "White House Office of Science and Technology Proceedings 25th Anniversary Symposium" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. May 1, 2001.
  9. ^ http://wws.princeton.edu/faculty-research/faculty/hts
  10. ^ https://scholar.princeton.edu/hts/home
  11. ^ https://pr.princeton.edu/hts/bio.html
Academic offices
Preceded by
Allan F. Smith (interim)
Robben Wright Fleming
10th President of the University of Michigan
Succeeded by
Robben Wright Fleming (interim)
James J. Duderstadt
Preceded by
William G. Bowen
President of Princeton University
Succeeded by
Shirley Tilghman