Andrew Strauss, '87


When you first came to Princeton what did you think your major would be?

Either Mathematics or Philosophy. It was a toss up.

What made you decide to major in philosophy?

Though I majored in Mathematics, I took more Philosophy courses than Mathematics courses, and my thesis advisor was in the Philosophy department. Though the disciplines have their formal similarities, Philosophy grapples with the most fundamentally important aspects of our lives; Math, well, doesn’t. On any given day, I’d rather learn or try to prove something about what we are and what matters than about a mathematical object.

Are there any stories about your experience as a philosophy major at Princeton that you'd like to share?

I studied in small classes with two professors who are surely amongst the top 50 and arguably amongst the top ten most important philosophers of the 20th century. That’s the amazing story.

What did you do immediately after leaving Princeton?

I went to UCLA on a Mellon Fellowship to work on a Philosophy PhD. A year later I returned to Princeton, and received my MA and “ABD” from Princeton in Philosophy.

What do you do now?

After a dozen years in Private Equity, rising to Managing Partner at The Riverside Company, I now run a 200-person litigation support business founded by my grandparents, and I spend as much time as I can with my family. [This interview was conducted in January 2013]

Final words?

In my career in finance, I always preferred to hire a humanities student, because they have been trained to think broadly and creatively and within as large a context as is possible. Princeton students are blessed in that they don’t need to study a trade: they will find great jobs and rise regardless of their major. The best reason to study Philosophy at Princeton is that you can.