Princeton University

Princeton University
Princeton University
Latin: Universitas Princetoniensis
Motto Dei sub numine viget (Latin)
Motto in English Under God's Power She Flourishes[1]
Established 1746
Type Private
Endowment US$17.1 billion[2]
President Shirley M. Tilghman
Academic staff 1,172
Admin. staff 1,103
Students 7,567
Undergraduates 5,113[3]
Postgraduates 2,479
Location Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Campus Suburban, 500 acres (2.0 km2)
(Princeton Borough and Township)[4]
Former names College of New Jersey (1746–1896)
Colors Orange and black         
Athletics 38 varsity teams
Ivy League
NCAA Division I
Nickname Tigers


Princeton U logotype.png

Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution.

Princeton provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.[5] Princeton does not have schools of medicine, law, divinity, or business, but it does offer professional degrees through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of Architecture.

Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, as the College of New Jersey, the university moved to Newark in 1747, then to Princeton in 1756 and was renamed Princeton University in 1896.[6] (The present-day College of New Jersey in nearby Ewing, New Jersey, is an unrelated institution.)

Princeton was the fourth institution of higher education in the U.S. to conduct classes.[7][8] While it once had close ties to the Presbyterian Church, it has never been affiliated with any denomination[9] and today imposes no religious requirements on its students.[10] The university has ties with the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Westminster Choir College of Rider University.[11]

Princeton has been associated with 35 Nobel Laureates, 17 National Medal of Science winners, and three National Humanities Medal winners. On a per-student basis, Princeton has the largest university endowment in the world.[12]



Sculpture by J. Massey Rhind (1892), Alexander Hall, Princeton University

New Light Presbyterians founded the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University, in 1746 in order to train ministers dedicated to their views. The college was the educational and religious capital of Scotch-Irish America. In 1756, the college moved to Princeton, New Jersey. Its home in Princeton was Nassau Hall, named for the royal house of William III of England.

Following the untimely deaths of Princeton's first five presidents, John Witherspoon became President in 1768 and remained in that office until his death in 1794. During his presidency, Witherspoon shifted the college's focus from training ministers to preparing a new generation for leadership in the new American nation. To this end, he tightened academic standards and solicited investment in the college.[13] Witherspoon's presidency constituted a long period of stability for the college, interrupted by the American Revolution and particularly the Battle of Princeton, during which British soldiers briefly occupied Nassau Hall; American forces, led by George Washington, fired cannon on the building to rout them from it.

Before the construction of Stanhope Hall in 1803, Nassau Hall was the college's sole building. During the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall, making Princeton the country's capital for four months. Over the centuries and through two redesigns following major fires, Nassau Hall's role shifted from an all-purpose building, comprising office, dormitory, library, and classroom space; to classroom space exclusively; to its present role as the administrative center of the University. The class of 1879 donated twin lion sculptures that flanked the entrance until 1911, when that same class replaced them with tigers.[14]

James McCosh took office as the college's president in 1868 and lifted the institution out of a low period that had been brought about by the American Civil War. During his two decades of service, he overhauled the curriculum, oversaw an expansion of inquiry into the sciences, and supervised the addition of a number of buildings in the High Victorian Gothic style to the campus.[15] McCosh Hall is named in his honor.

In 1896, the college officially changed its name from the College of New Jersey to Princeton University to honor the town in which it resides. During this year, the college also underwent large expansion and officially became a university. Under Woodrow Wilson, Princeton introduced the preceptorial system in 1905, a then-unique concept that augmented the standard lecture method of teaching with a more personal form in which small groups of students, or precepts, could interact with a single instructor, or preceptor, in their field of interest.

In 1969, Princeton University first admitted women as undergraduates. In 1887, the university had actually maintained and staffed a sister college, Evelyn College for Women, in the town of Princeton on Evelyn and Nassau streets. It was closed after roughly a decade of operation. After abortive discussions with Sarah Lawrence College to relocate the women's college to Princeton and merge it with the University in 1967, the administration decided to admit women and turned to the issue of transforming the school's operations and facilities into a female-friendly campus. The administration had barely finished these plans in April 1969 when the admissions office began mailing out its acceptance letters. Its five-year coeducation plan provided $7.8 million for the development of new facilities that would eventually house and educate 650 women students at Princeton by 1974. Ultimately, 148 women, consisting of 100 freshmen and transfer students of other years, entered Princeton on September 6, 1969 amidst much media attention. (Princeton enrolled its first female graduate student, Sabra Follett Meserve, as a Ph.D. candidate in Turkish history in 1961. A handful of undergraduate women had studied at Princeton from 1963 on, spending their junior year there to study "critical languages" in which Princeton's offerings surpassed those of their home institutions. They were considered regular students for their year on campus, but were not candidates for a Princeton degree.)

As a result of a 1979 lawsuit by Sally Frank, Princeton's eating clubs were required to go coeducational in 1991, after Tiger Inn's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.[16]


Fine Hall, the home of the Department of Mathematics. It is the tallest building on campus, although its height above sea level is not higher than the University Chapel, significantly uphill from Fine.[citation needed]

The main campus sits on about 500 acres (2.0 km2) split between two municipalities, the Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. The James Forrestal Campus is split between nearby Plainsboro and South Brunswick. The University also owns some property in West Windsor Township.[4] The campuses are situated about one hour from both New York City and Philadelphia.

The first building on campus was Nassau Hall, completed in 1756, and situated on the northern edge of campus facing Nassau Street.[17] The campus expanded steadily around Nassau Hall during the early and middle 19th century.[18][19] The McCosh presidency (1868–88) saw the construction of a number of buildings in the High Victorian Gothic and Romanesque Revival styles; many of them are now gone, leaving the remaining few to appear out of place.[20] At the end of the 19th century Princeton adopted the Collegiate Gothic style for which it is known today.[21] Implemented initially by William Appleton Potter[21] and later enforced by the University's supervising architect, Ralph Adams Cram,[22] the Collegiate Gothic style remained the standard for all new building on the Princeton campus through 1960.[23][24] A flurry of construction in the 1960s produced a number of new buildings on the south side of the main campus, many of which have been poorly received.[25] Several prominent architects have contributed some more recent additions, including Frank Gehry (Lewis Library),[26] I.M. Pei (Spelman Halls),[27] Demetri Porphyrios (Whitman College, a Collegiate Gothic project),[28] Robert Venturi (Frist Campus Center, among several others),[29] and Rafael Viñoly (Carl Icahn Laboratory).[30]

A group of 20th-century sculptures scattered throughout the campus forms the Putnam Collection of Sculpture. It includes works by Alexander Calder (Five Disks: One Empty), Jacob Epstein (Albert Einstein), Henry Moore (Oval With Points), Isamu Noguchi (White Sun), and Pablo Picasso (Head of a Woman).[31]

At the southern edge of the campus is Lake Carnegie, a man-made lake named for Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie financed the lake's construction in 1906 at the behest of a friend who was a Princeton alumnus.[32] Carnegie hoped the opportunity to take up rowing would inspire Princeton students to forsake football, which he considered "not gentlemanly."[33] The Shea Rowing Center on the lake's shore continues to serve as the headquarters for Princeton rowing.[34]

Cannon Green

Buried in the ground at the center of the lawn south of Nassau Hall is the "Big Cannon," which was left in Princeton by British troops as they fled following the Battle of Princeton. It remained in Princeton until the War of 1812, when it was brought to New Brunswick.[35] In 1836 the cannon was returned to Princeton and placed at the eastern end of town. It was removed to the campus under cover of night by Princeton students in 1838 and buried in its current location in 1840.[36]

A second "Little Cannon" is buried in the lawn in front of nearby Whig Hall. This cannon, which may also have been captured in the Battle of Princeton, was stolen by students of Rutgers University in 1875. The theft ignited the Rutgers-Princeton Cannon War. A compromise between the presidents of Princeton and Rutgers ended the War and forced the return of the Little Cannon to Princeton.[37] The protruding cannons are occasionally painted scarlet by Rutgers students who continue the traditional dispute.[38][39]

In years when the Princeton football team beats the teams of both Harvard University and Yale University in the same season, Princeton celebrates with a bonfire on Cannon Green. This occurred most recently in 2006, ending a twelve-year drought.[40]


Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall from the front.

Nassau Hall is the oldest building on campus. Begun in 1754 and completed in 1756,[17] it was the first seat of the New Jersey Legislature in 1776,[41] was involved in the battle of Princeton in 1777,[17] and was the seat of the Congress of the Confederation (and thus capitol of the United States) from 30 June 1783 to 4 November 1783.[42] It now houses the office of the university president and other administrative offices, and remains the symbolic center of the campus.[43] The front entrance is flanked by two bronze tigers, a gift of the Princeton Class of 1879.[17] Commencement is held on the front lawn of Nassau Hall in good weather.[44] In 1966, Nassau Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[45]

Residential colleges

Princeton has six undergraduate residential colleges, each housing approximately 500 freshmen, sophomores, some juniors and seniors, and a handful of junior and senior resident advisers. Each college consists of a set of dormitories, a dining hall, a variety of other amenities—such as study spaces, libraries, performance spaces, and darkrooms—and a collection of administrators and associated faculty. Two colleges, Wilson College and Forbes College (formerly Princeton Inn College), date to the 1970s; three others, Rockefeller, Mathey, and Butler Colleges, were created in 1983 following the Committee on Undergraduate Residential Life (CURL) report, which suggested the institution of residential colleges as a solution to an allegedly fragmented campus social life. The construction of Whitman College, the university's sixth residential college, was completed in 2007.

Rockefeller and Mathey are located in the northwest corner of the campus; Princeton brochures often feature their Collegiate Gothic architecture. Like most of Princeton's Gothic buildings, they predate the residential college system and were fashioned into colleges from individual dormitories.

Wilson and Butler, located south of the center of the campus, were built in the 1960s. Wilson served as an early experiment in the establishment of the residential college system. Butler, like Rockefeller and Mathey, consisted of a collection of ordinary dorms (called the "New New Quad") before the addition of a dining hall made it a residential college. Widely disliked for their edgy modernist design, the dormitories on the Butler Quad were demolished in 2007. Butler is now reopened as a four year residential college, housing both under- and upperclassmen.

Forbes is located on the site of the historic Princeton Inn, a gracious hotel overlooking the Princeton golf course. The Princeton Inn, originally constructed in 1924, played regular host to important symposia and gatherings of renowned scholars from both the university and the nearby Institute for Advanced Study for many years.[46] Forbes currently houses over 400 undergraduates and a number of resident graduate students in its residential halls. Butler and most of Forbes are in a different municipality, Princeton Township, from the rest of the main campus, which is in Princeton Borough.

In 2003, Princeton broke ground for a sixth college named Whitman College after its principal sponsor, Meg Whitman, who graduated from Princeton in 1977. The new dormitories were constructed in the Collegiate Gothic architectural style and were designed by architect Demetri Porphyrios. Construction finished in 2007, and Whitman College was inaugurated as Princeton's sixth residential college that same year.

The precursor of the present college system in America was originally proposed by university president Woodrow Wilson in the early 20th century. For over 800 years, however, the collegiate system had already existed in Britain at Oxford University and Cambridge University. Wilson's model was much closer to Yale's present system, which features four-year colleges. Lacking the support of the trustees, the plan languished until 1968. That year, Wilson College was established to cap a series of alternatives to the eating clubs. Fierce debates raged before the present residential college system emerged. The plan was first attempted at Yale, but the administration was initially uninterested; an exasperated alum, Edward Harkness, finally paid to have the college system implemented at Harvard in the 1920s, leading to the oft-quoted aphorism that the college system is a Princeton idea that was executed at Harvard with funding from Yale.

Princeton has one graduate residential college, known simply as the Graduate College, located beyond Forbes College at the outskirts of campus. The far-flung location of the G.C. was the spoil of a squabble between Woodrow Wilson and then-Graduate School Dean Andrew Fleming West. Wilson preferred a central location for the College; West wanted the graduate students as far as possible from the campus. Ultimately, West prevailed.[46] The Graduate College is composed of a large Collegiate Gothic section crowned by Cleveland Tower, a local landmark that also houses a world-class carillon. The attached New Graduate College departs in its design from Collegiate Gothic; it is reminiscent of the former dormitories of Butler College, the newest of the five pre-Whitman residential colleges.

McCarter Theatre

McCarter Theater

The Tony-award-winning[47] McCarter Theatre was built by the Princeton Triangle Club, a student performance group, using club profits and a gift from Princeton University alumnus Thomas McCarter. Today, the Triangle Club performs its annual freshmen revue and spring musicals in McCarter. McCarter is also recognized as one of the leading regional theaters in the United States.

Art Museum

The Princeton University Art Museum was established in 1882 to give students direct, intimate, and sustained access to original works of art that complement and enrich instruction and research at the university. This continues to be a primary function, along with serving as a community resource and a destination for national and international visitors.

Numbering over 72,000 objects, the collections range from ancient to contemporary art and concentrate geographically on the Mediterranean regions, Western Europe, China, the United States, and Latin America. There is a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, including ceramics, marbles, bronzes, and Roman mosaics from faculty excavations in Antioch. Medieval Europe is represented by sculpture, metalwork, and stained glass. The collection of Western European paintings includes examples from the early Renaissance through the 19th century, with masterpieces by Monet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh, and features a growing collection of 20th-century and contemporary art, including iconic paintings such as Andy Warhol's Blue Marilyn.

One of the best features of the museums is its collection of Chinese art, with important holdings in bronzes, tomb figurines, painting, and calligraphy. Its collection of pre-Columbian art includes examples of Mayan art, and is commonly considered to be the most important collection of Pre-Columbian art outside of Latin America. The museum has collections of old master prints and drawings and a comprehensive collection of over 27,000 original photographs. African art and Northwest Coast Indian art are also represented. The Museum also oversees the outdoor Putnam Collection of Sculpture.

University Chapel

Princeton University Chapel

The Princeton University Chapel is located on the north side of campus, near Nassau Street. It was built between 1924 and 1928, at a cost of US$2.3 million,[48] approximately US$29.5 million in 2010 dollars. Ralph Adams Cram, the University's supervising architect, designed the Chapel, which he viewed as the crown jewel for the Collegiate Gothic motif he had championed for the campus.[49] At the time of its construction, it was the second largest university chapel in the world, after King's College Chapel, Cambridge.[50] It underwent a two-year, US$10 million restoration campaign between 2000 and 2002.[51]

Measured on the exterior, the Chapel is 277 feet (84 m) long, 76 feet (23 m) wide at its transepts, and 121 feet (37 m) high.[52] The exterior is Pennsylvania sandstone, with Indiana limestone used for the trim.[53] The interior is mostly limestone and Aquia Creek sandstone. The design evokes an English church of the Middle Ages.[54] The extensive iconography, in stained glass, stonework, and wood carvings, has the common theme of connecting religion and scholarship.[49]

The Chapel seats almost 2,000.[55] It hosts weekly ecumenical Christian services,[56] daily Roman Catholic mass,[57] and several annual special events.


Published in 2008, Princeton's Sustainability Plan highlights three priority areas for the University's Office of Sustainability: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; conservation of resources; and research, education, and civic engagement.[58] Princeton has committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 without the purchase of offsets.[59] The University published its first Sustainability Progress Report in November 2009.[60] The University has adopted a green purchasing policy and recycling program that focuses on paper products, construction materials, lightbulbs, furniture, and electronics.[61] Its dining halls have set a goal to purchase 20% sustainable food products.[62] The student organization "Greening Princeton" seeks to encourage the University administration to adopt environmentally friendly policies on campus.[63]


The Trustees of Princeton University, a 40-member board, is responsible for the overall direction of the University. It approves the operating and capital budgets, supervises the investment of the University's endowment and oversees campus real estate and long-range physical planning. The trustees also exercise prior review and approval concerning changes in major policies, such as those in instructional programs and admission, as well as tuition and fees and the hiring of faculty members.

With an endowment of US$17.1 billion, Princeton University is among the wealthiest universities in the world. Ranked in 2010 as the third largest endowment in the United States, the university has the greatest per-student endowment in the world (over US$2 million for undergraduates).[64] Such a significant endowment is sustained through the continued donations of its alumni and is maintained by investment advisers.[65] Some of Princeton's wealth is invested in its art museum, which features works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol among other prominent artists.


The courtyard of East Pyne

Undergraduates fulfill general education requirements, choose among a wide variety of elective courses, and pursue departmental concentrations and interdisciplinary certificate programs. Required independent work is a hallmark of undergraduate education at Princeton. Students graduate with either the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) or the Bachelor of Science in engineering (B.S.E.).

The graduate school offers advanced degrees spanning the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. Doctoral education is available in all disciplines.[citation needed] It emphasizes original and independent scholarship whereas master's degree programs in architecture, engineering, finance, and public affairs and public policy prepare candidates for careers in public life and professional practice.


Undergraduate courses in the humanities are traditionally either seminars or lectures held 2 or 3 times a week with an additional discussion seminar that is called a "precept." To graduate, all A.B. candidates must complete a senior thesis and, in most departments, one or two extensive pieces of independent research that are known as "junior papers." Juniors in some departments, including architecture and the creative arts, complete independent projects that differ from written research papers. A.B. candidates must also fulfill a three or four semester foreign language requirement and distribution requirements with a total of 31 classes. B.S.E. candidates follow a parallel track with an emphasis on a rigorous science and math curriculum, a computer science requirement, and at least two semesters of independent research including an optional senior thesis. All B.S.E. students must complete at least 36 classes. A.B. candidates typically have more freedom in course selection than B.S.E. candidates because of the fewer number of required classes. Nonetheless, in the spirit of a liberal arts education, both enjoy a comparatively high degree of latitude in creating a self-structured curriculum.

Undergraduates agree to adhere to an academic integrity policy called the Honor Code, established in 1893. Under the Honor Code, faculty do not proctor examinations; instead, the students proctor one another and must report any suspected violation to an Honor Committee made up of undergraduates. The Committee investigates reported violations and holds a hearing if it is warranted. An acquittal at such a hearing results in the destruction of all records of the hearing; a conviction results in the student's suspension or expulsion.[66] The signed pledge required by the Honor Code is so integral to students' academic experience that the Triangle Club performs a song about it each fall.[67][68] Out-of-class exercises fall under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline.[69] Undergraduates are expected to sign a pledge on their written work affirming that they have not plagiarized the work.[70]

Admissions and financial aid

Princeton's undergraduate program is highly selective, admitting 8.39% of undergraduate applicants in the 2010-11 admissions cycle (for the Class of 2015).[71] In September 2006, the university announced that all applicants for the Class of 2012 would be considered in a single pool. In this way, the early decision program was effectively ended.[72] In February 2011, following decisions by the University of Virginia and Harvard University to reinstate their early admissions programs, Princeton announced it would institute an early action program, starting with applicants for the Class of 2016.[73]

In 2001, expanding on earlier reforms, Princeton became the first university to eliminate loans for all students who qualify for financial aid.[74] All demonstrated need is met with combinations of grants and campus jobs. In addition, all admissions are need-blind.[75] U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review both cite Princeton as the university that has the fewest of graduates with debt even though 60% of incoming students are on some type of financial aid.[76] Kiplinger magazine ranks Princeton as the best value among private universities, noting that the average graduating debt is US$4,957, "about one fifth the average debt of students who borrow at all private schools."[77]

Grade deflation policy

In 2004, Nancy Weiss Malkiel, the Dean of the College, implemented a grade deflation policy to curb the number of A-range grades undergraduates received.[78] Malkiel's argument was that an A was beginning to lose its meaning as a larger percentage of the student body received them.[78] While the number of A's has indeed decreased under the policy, many argue that this is hurting Princeton students when they apply to jobs or graduate school.[78] Malkiel has said that she sent pamphlets to inform institutions about the policy so that they consider Princeton students equally,[78] but students argue that Princeton graduates can apply to other institutions that know nothing about it. They argue further that as other schools purposefully inflate their grades,[79] Princeton students' GPAs will look low by comparison. Further, studies have shown that employers prefer high grades even when they are inflated.[80] It is expected to remain in place even after Malkiel steps down at the end of the 2010–2011 school year. However, it should be noted that the policy deflates grades only relative to their previous levels; indeed, as of 2009, or five years after the policy was instituted, the average graduating GPA saw only a marginal decrease, from 3.46 to 3.39,[81] which is less grade-inflated than before, but not, on an absolute scale, grade-deflated, and is unlikely to have a significant effect in employment and graduate school admissions.


This watercolor shows Cleveland Tower as seen from just outside Procter Hall at the Old Graduate College in the noon autumn sun.

Princeton offers postgraduate research degrees in many fields in the social sciences, engineering, natural sciences, and humanities. Although Princeton offers professional graduate degrees in engineering, architecture, and finance, it has no medical school, law school, or business school like other research universities.[82] The university's most famous professional school is the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, founded in 1930 as the School of Public and International Affairs and renamed in 1948 after university president (and US President) Woodrow Wilson.


The university's library system houses over eleven million holdings[83] including six million bound volumes.[84] The main university library, Firestone Library, which houses almost four million volumes, is one of the largest university libraries in the world[85] and among the largest "open stack" libraries in existence. Its collections include the Blickling homilies. In addition to Firestone library, many individual disciplines have their own libraries, including architecture, art history, East Asian studies, engineering, geology, international affairs and public policy, Near Eastern studies, and psychology. Seniors in some departments can register for enclosed carrels in the main library for workspace and the private storage of books and research materials. In February 2007, Princeton became the 12th major library system to join Google's ambitious project to scan the world's great literary works and make them searchable over the Web.[86]


University rankings (overall)
Forbes[87] 2
U.S. News & World Report[88] 1
Washington Monthly[89] 28
ARWU[90] 7
QS[91] 13
Times[92] 5

From 2001 to 2010, Princeton University was ranked either first or second among national universities by U.S. News & World Report (USNWR), holding the #1 spot for 9 of those 10 years.[93] After one year at second place in 2009, Princeton returned to the number one spot in 2010, tying with Harvard University.[94] It has been ranked eighth among world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University,[95] and fifth among top 50 for Natural Sciences by THES.[96] In the 2011 Times Higher Education World University Rankings[97] Princeton was ranked 5th in the world. In the 2011 QS World University Rankings[98] it was ranked 13th overall in the world, making it 9th among US universities. Its three highest subject rankings were: 6th in Arts & Humanities, 7th in Natural Sciences, and 11th in Social Sciences. Globally it dropped two places from its position of 8th in the THE-QS World University Rankings of 2009 (in 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings parted ways to produce separate rankings).[99] In 2009 the university had been ranked third in North America, behind Harvard and Yale.[100]

Clio Hall

In the "America's Best Colleges" rankings by Forbes in 2008, Princeton University was ranked first among all national colleges and universities.[101] The Forbes ranking also takes into consideration national awards won by students and faculty, as well as number of alumni in the 2008 "Who's Who in America" register.[102]

Princeton Graduate School programs are also highly ranked among universities in the United States.[103] In the 2009 U.S. News & World Report "Graduate School Rankings", all fourteen of Princeton's doctoral programs evaluated were ranked in their respective top 20, 7 of them in the top 5, and 4 of them in the top spot (Mathematics, Economics, History, Political Science).[104]

In Princeton Review's rankings of "softer" aspects of students' college experience, Princeton University was ranked first in "Students Happy with Financial Aid" and third in "Happiest Students", behind Clemson and Brown Universities.[105]

The university's individual academic departments have been highly ranked in their respective fields. The Department of Psychology has been ranked fifth in the nation[106] and its individual graduate programs have received high national rankings as well. The behavioral neuroscience program[107] has been ranked sixth and the social psychology program[108] has been ranked seventh. The Department of History is currently ranked first in the world.[109]

Princeton University also participates in the (NAICU)'s University and College Accountability Network (U-CAN).

Princeton University has an IBM BlueGeneL supercomputer, called Orangena, which was ranked as the 89th fastest computer in the world in 2005 (LINPACK performance of 4713 compared to 12250 for other U. S. universities and 280600 for the top-ranked supercomputer, belonging to the U. S. Department of Energy).[110]

Student life and culture

Cuyler, Class of 1903, and Walker Halls are Princeton dormitories with Collegiate Gothic architecture.

University housing is guaranteed to all undergraduates for all four years. More than 98 percent of students live on campus in dormitories.[111] Freshmen and sophomores must live in residential colleges, while juniors and seniors typically live in designated upperclassman dormitories. The actual dormitories are comparable, but only residential colleges have dining halls. Nonetheless, any undergraduate may purchase a meal plan and eat in a residential college dining hall. Recently, upperclassmen have been given the option of remaining in their college for all four years. Juniors and seniors also have the option of living off-campus, but high rent in the Princeton area encourages almost all students to live in university housing. Undergraduate social life revolves around the residential colleges and a number of coeducational eating clubs, which students may choose to join in the spring of their sophomore year. Eating clubs, which are not officially affiliated with the university, serve as dining halls and communal spaces for their members and also host social events throughout the academic year.

Princeton's six residential colleges host a variety of social events and activities, guest speakers, and trips. The residential colleges also sponsor trips to New York for undergraduates to see ballets, operas, Broadway shows, sports events, and other activities. The eating clubs, located on Prospect Avenue, are co-ed organizations for upperclassmen. Most upperclassmen eat their meals at one of the ten eating clubs. Additionally, the clubs serve as evening and weekend social venues for members and guests.

Princeton hosts two Model United Nations conferences, PMUNC[112] in the fall for high school students and PICSim[113] in the spring for college students. It also hosts the Princeton Invitational Speech and Debate tournament each year at the end of November. Princeton also runs Princeton Model Congress, an event that is held once a year in mid-November. The 4-day conference has high school students from around the country as participants.

Although the school's admissions policy is need blind, Princeton, based on the proportion of students who receive Pell Grants, was ranked as a school with little economic diversity among all national universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report.[114] While Pell figures are widely used as a gauge of the number of low-income undergraduates on a given campus, the rankings article cautions "the proportion of students on Pell Grants isn't a perfect measure of an institution's efforts to achieve economic diversity," but goes on to say that "still, many experts say that Pell figures are the best available gauge of how many low-income undergrads there are on a given campus."


  • Arch Sings – Late-night concerts that feature one or several of Princeton's thirteen undergraduate a cappella groups. The free concerts take place in one of the larger arches on campus. Most are held in Blair Arch or Class of 1879 Arch.
  • Bonfire – Ceremonial bonfire that takes place in Cannon Green behind Nassau Hall. It is held only if Princeton beats both Harvard University and Yale University at football in the same season. The most recent bonfire was lit November 17, 2006, after a twelve-year drought.
  • Bicker – Selection process for new-members that is employed by selective eating clubs. Prospective members, or bickerees, are required to perform a variety of activities at the request of current members.
  • Cane Spree – An athletic competition between freshmen and sophomores that is held in the fall. The event centers on cane wrestling, where a freshman and a sophomore will grapple for control of a cane. This commemorates a historic freshman uprising against a university tradition that only sophomores and upperclassmen were permitted to carry canes, in which freshman attempted to rob sophomores of their canes in defiance of the rule.
  • The Clapper or Clapper Theft – The act of climbing to the top of Nassau Hall to steal the bell clapper, which rings to signal the start of classes on the first day of the school year. For safety reasons, the clapper has now been removed permanently.
  • Class Jackets (Beer Jackets) – Each graduating class designs a Class Jacket that features its class year. The artwork is almost invariably dominated by the school colors and tiger motifs.
  • Communiversity – An annual street fair with performances, arts and crafts, and other activities that attempts to foster interaction between the university community and residents of the Princeton.
  • Dean's Date – The Tuesday at the end of each semester when all written work is due. This day signals the end of reading period and the beginning of final examinations. Traditionally, undergraduates gather outside McCosh Hall before the 5:00 p.m. deadline to cheer on fellow students who have left their work to the very last minute.[115]
  • FitzRandolph Gates – At the end of Princeton's graduation ceremony, the new graduates process out through the main gate of the university as a symbol of the fact that they are leaving college. According to tradition, anyone who exits campus through the FitzRandolph Gates before his or her own graduation date will not graduate.
  • Gilding the Lily – Promotion ceremony at the 25th reunion of a class. Alumnae of the University (aka "Tiger Lilies") enjoy the courting of male classmates, amid song and much drink (see Newman's Day). Traditional chants include: "In Princeton Town the Youth abound, and do young Tigers make. Women return as Gilded Lilies, the men as Frosted Flakes".
  • Holder Howl – The midnight before Dean's Date, students from Holder Hall and elsewhere gather in the Holder courtyard and take part in a minute-long, communal primal scream to vent frustration from studying with impromptu, late night noise making.[116]
  • Houseparties – Formal parties that are held simultaneously by all of the eating clubs at the end of the spring term.
  • Ivy stones -Class memorial stones placed on the exterior walls of academic buildings around the campus.
  • Lawnparties – Parties that feature live bands that are held simultaneously by all of the eating clubs at the start of classes and at the conclusion of the academic year.
  • Locomotive – Chant traditionally used by Princetonians to acknowledge a particular year or class. It goes: "Hip... hip... rah rah rah tiger tiger tiger sis sis sis boom boom boom chicka chicka rahh!" Following it are three chants of the class that is being acknowledged. It is commonly heard at Opening Exercises in the fall as alumni and current students welcome the freshman class, as well as the P-rade in the spring at Princeton Reunions.
  • Newman's Day – Students attempt to drink 24 beers in the 24 hours of April 24. According to the New York Times, "the day got its name from an apocryphal quote attributed to Paul Newman: '24 beers in a case, 24 hours in a day. Coincidence? I think not.'"[117] Newman had spoken out against the tradition, however.[118]
  • Nude Olympics – Annual nude and partially nude frolic in Holder Courtyard that takes place during the first snow of the winter. Started in the early 1970s, the Nude Olympics went co-ed in 1979 and gained much notoriety with the American press. For safety reasons, the administration banned the Olympics in 2000 to the chagrin of students.
  • Prospect 10 – The act of drinking a beer at all ten eating clubs on The Street in a single night.
  • P-rade – Traditional parade of alumni and their families. They process through campus by class year during Reunions.
  • Reunions – Massive annual gathering of alumni held the weekend before graduation.


Princeton supports organized athletics at three levels: varsity intercollegiate, club intercollegiate, and intramural. It also provides "a variety of physical education and recreational programs" for members of the Princeton community. According to the athletics program's mission statement, Princeton aims for its students who participate in athletics to be "'student athletes' in the fullest sense of the phrase."[119] Most undergraduates participate in athletics at some level.[120]

Princeton's colors are orange and black. The school's athletes are known as Tigers, and the mascot is a tiger. The Princeton administration considered naming the mascot in 2007, but the effort was dropped in the face of alumni opposition.[121]


Princeton vs. Lehigh football, September 2007

Princeton is an NCAA Division I school. Its athletic conference is the Ivy League. Princeton hosts 38 men's and women's varsity sports.[120] The largest varsity sport is rowing, with almost 150 athletes.[34]

Princeton's football team has a long and storied history. Princeton played against Rutgers University in the first intercollegiate football game in the U.S. on Nov. 6, 1869. By a score of 6-4, Rutgers won the game, which was played by rules similar to modern rugby.[122] Today Princeton is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision of NCAA Division I.[123] As of the end of the 2010 season, Princeton had won 26 national football championships, more than any other school.[124]

The men's basketball program is noted for its success under Pete Carril, the head coach from 1967 to 1996. During this time, Princeton won 13 Ivy League titles and made 11 NCAA tournament appearances.[125] Carril introduced the Princeton offense, an offensive strategy that has since been adopted by a number of college and professional basketball teams.[126] Carril's final victory at Princeton came when the Tigers beat UCLA, the defending national champion, in the opening round of the 1996 NCAA tournament,[126] in what is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament.[127] Recently Princeton tied the record for the fewest points in a Division I game since the institution of the three-point line in 1986-87, when the Tigers scored 21 points in a loss against Monmouth University on Dec. 14, 2005.[128]

The men's lacrosse program enjoyed a period of dominance 1992-2001, during which time it won six national championships.[129]

Club and intramural

In addition to varsity sports, Princeton hosts about 35 club sports teams.[120] Princeton's rugby team is organized as a club sport.[130]

Each year, nearly 300 teams participate in intramural sports at Princeton.[131] Intramurals are open to members of Princeton's faculty, staff, and students, though a team representing a residential college or eating club must consist only of members of that college or club. Several leagues with differing levels of competitiveness are available.[132]


Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games is Princeton Cannon Song, the Princeton University fight song.

Bob Dylan wrote "Day of The Locusts" about his experience of receiving an honorary doctorate from the University. It is a reference to the negative experience he had and it mentions the cicada infestation of Princeton.

"Old Nassau"

"Old Nassau" has been Princeton University's anthem since 1859. Its words were written that year by a freshman, Harlan Page Peck, and published in the March issue of the Nassau Literary Review (the oldest student publication at Princeton and also the second oldest undergraduate literary magazine in the country). The words and music appeared together for the first time in Songs of Old Nassau, published in April 1859. Before the Langlotz tune was written, the song was sung to Auld Lang Syne's melody, which also fits.[133]

However, Old Nassau does not only refer to the university's anthem. It can also refer to Nassau Hall, the building that was built in 1756 and named after William III of the House of Orange-Nassau. When built, it was the largest college building in North America. It served briefly as the capitol of the United States when the Continental Congress convened there in the summer of 1783. By metonymy, the term can refer to the university as a whole. Finally, it can also refer to a chemical reaction that is dubbed "Old Nassau reaction" because the solution turns orange and then black.[134]

Notable alumni and faculty

U.S. Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson graduated from Princeton. Grover Cleveland was not an alumnus but served as a trustee for several years while he spent his retirement in the town of Princeton. John F. Kennedy spent his freshman fall at Princeton before leaving due to illness and later transferring to Harvard College. The current First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, also graduated from Princeton. Former Chief Justice of the United States Oliver Ellsworth was an alumnus, as are current U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Actor Jimmy Stewart graduated from Princeton. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Eugene O'Neill attended but did not graduate.

Notable graduate alumni include Richard Feynman, John Nash, and David Petraeus.

Notable faculty members include Paul Krugman, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Singer, Cornel West, Robert George, Daniel Kahneman, and Andrew Wiles. Notable former faculty members include Ben Bernanke, Joseph Henry, Toni Morrison, John von Neumann, and Woodrow Wilson, who served as president of the University from 1902-1910. Albert Einstein, though on the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study rather than at Princeton, came to be associated with the University through frequent lectures and visits on the campus.

508 Princetonia

The asteroid 508 Princetonia is named for Princeton University by R. S. Dugan, which he found during his time at Königstuhl Observatory with Max Wolf in Heidelberg, Germany.[135] He discovered it in 1903 while working on his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University. The asteroid is located in the main asteroid belt and is about 88 miles (142 km) in diameter according to IRAS data.[136]

See also


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Further reading

  • Axtell, James. The Making of Princeton University: From Woodrow Wilson to the Present (2006), 710pp; highly detailed scholarly history
  • Bragdon, Henry. Woodrow Wilson: The Academic Years (1967)
  • Kemeny, P. C. Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868–1928 (1998). 353 pp.
  • Noll, Mark A. Princeton and the Republic, 1768–1822: The Search for a Christian Enlightenment in the Era of Samuel Stanhope Smith (1989). 340 pp.
  • Oberdorfer, Don. Princeton University (1995) 248pp; heavily illustrated
  • Rhinehart Raymond. Princeton University: The Campus Guide (2000), 188pp, guide to architecture
  • Smith, Richard D. Princeton University (2005) 128pp
  • Synnott, Marcia Graham. The Half-Opened Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900–1970 (1979). 310 pp.
  • Wilson, Woodrow. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume 14–21, ed, by Arthur S. Link et al. (1972–76)
  • McLachlan, James. Princetonians, 1748–1768: A Biographical Dictionary (1976). 706 pp.
    • Harrison, Richard A. Princetonians, 1769–1775: A Biographical Dictionary. Vol. 2. (1981). 585 pp.
    • Harrison, Richard A. Princetonians, 1776–1783: A Biographical Dictionary Vol. 3. (1981). 498 pp.
    • Woodward, Ruth L. and Craven, Wesley Frank. Princetonians, 1784–1790: A Biographical Dictionary (1991). 618 pp.
    • Looney, J. Jefferson and Woodward, Ruth L. Princetonians, 1791–1794: A Biographical Dictionary (1991). 677 pp.

External links

Coordinates: 40°20′55″N 74°39′34″W / 40.34873°N 74.65931°W / 40.34873; -74.65931

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