William G. Bowen joined the faculty of Princeton in 1958. He became provost in 1967 and served as president of Princeton from 1972, the year Sonia Sotomayor matriculated as a freshman, until 1988. At Princeton, Bowen was involved in the decision to admit women to the university and recruit more minority applicants and faculty, and his 1998 book, "The Shape of the River," co-written with the former Harvard University president Derek Bok, was the first extensive study of affirmative action in university admissions.
Bowen will be releasing another book this fall with new research into equity and access in American higher education. We sat down in his office at the Mellon Foundation on Wednesday morning. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.