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New partnerships, programs and positions are part of Princeton’s ongoing commitment to combat systemic racism

May 5, 2022, 1:30 p.m.

An innovative research partnership with the United Negro College Fund and historically Black colleges and universities, the creation of the Effron Center for the Study of America, which embraces diverse and inclusive perspectives on what it means to be American, and a new vice dean position focused on faculty diversity are among Princeton’s many recent initiatives to address systemic racism.

In summer 2020, President Christopher L. Eisgruber announced a University-wide commitment to combat America’s record of structural inequality and racism as well as Princeton’s place in that history. Since then, academic and administrative offices have developed action plans to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on campus, as well as to help address racial inequities embedded within society. 

Princeton’s efforts have continued and expanded during the current 2021-22 academic year, and an annual report will be published in the fall. 

In the meantime, the University is providing an interim update on the projects, programs and partnerships launched so far this year. Of note this spring is the appointment of two new positions at the University: 

  • The vice dean for diversity and inclusion in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty to support Princeton’s aspiration of increasing the number of underrepresented tenure- and tenure-track faculty members by 50% within five years. Frederick Wherry, the Townsend Martin, Class of 1917 Professor of Sociology, will begin in this role July 1.
  • The vice provost for academic affairs in the Office of the Provost to explore the possibility of a new credit- or degree-granting program that would extend Princeton’s teaching to a new range of students from communities disproportionately affected by systemic racism and other forms of disadvantage. Cole Crittenden, the current deputy dean and acting dean of the Graduate School, will begin in this role July 1. 

Princeton published its first annual report in October 2021 highlighting diversity, equity and inclusion work during the 2020-21 academic year. The report also featured demographic and climate data about students, staff, faculty and postdoctoral scholars. 

“The University’s diversity, equity and inclusion work has been an ongoing, community-wide process, drawing on the input of hundreds of students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, staff and alumni,” said Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity

She added that the redoubled efforts of the last two years build on decades of diversity, equity and inclusion work at Princeton. 

“Moving toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion requires sustained, multigenerational commitment,” Minter said. “We look forward to working with partners on campus and within higher education on developing new ideas and efforts, and the University will continue to report on our outcomes as this work progresses.”

Below is a snapshot of how Princeton has supported its racial equity commitments during the 2021-22 year. The Racial Equity website also includes these updates, as well as more information on the University’s existing and new diversity and inclusion efforts. 

Commitment: Explore the possibility of a new credit- or degree-granting program that would extend Princeton’s teaching to a new range of students from communities disproportionately affected by systemic racism and other forms of disadvantage.

• The Office of the Provost has appointed Cole Crittenden as the inaugural vice provost for academic affairs. Crittenden will identify new opportunities to leverage Princeton's mission, advantages and resources to address the specific needs and aspirations of non-traditional students, with a particular focus on adult learners. The vice provost for academic affairs will work with campus leaders and partner with other institutions serving non-traditional students to seek creative opportunities to support faculty and students at these institutions through collaboration, exchanges and complementary educational experiences and mentoring. 

Commitment: Assemble a faculty that more closely reflects both the diverse make-up of Princeton’s students and the national pool of candidates; establish and strengthen parallel initiatives to diversify the pipeline of Princeton’s postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, visiting faculty and graduate students; and re-conceive the Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity. 

•    The Office of the Dean of the Faculty has appointed Frederick Wherry as the inaugural vice dean for diversity and inclusion in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, and as the director of the Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows Program. Wherry will serve as the primary thought leader on matters of diversity and inclusion with respect to all the populations appointed through the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.
•    Twelve scholars from across the disciplines have been named Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows for academic year 2021-22. They are the third cohort of fellows appointed at Princeton with the aim of enhancing diversity in the professoriate.
•    The Effron Center for the Study of America was established last November through a major gift to the Venture Forward campaign. For over 75 years, Princeton’s Program in American Studies has supported teaching and research on America from diverse interdisciplinary perspectives. The Effron Center for the Study of America will enable Princeton to make crucial investments in faculty, visitors and fellows to support emerging areas of American studies scholarship and provide an expanded roster of curricular offerings.
•    Members of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity (FACD) were elected in spring 2021. Chaired by President Eisgruber, the FACD met regularly during the academic year to review and provide feedback on the strategic priorities and planning of senior University academic leaders on diversity and inclusion. The committee also met with the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Affairs to summarize their efforts and receive feedback from trustees.

Commitment: Develop an institution-wide, multi-year action plan for supplier and contractor diversity.

•    The Office of Finance and Treasury adopted a multi-year supplier diversity action plan last spring. The plan aims to establish a more diverse supplier base for the University that will broaden the pool of supplier expertise, capabilities and perspectives, and include more businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by people of color, women, veterans or members of the LGBTQ+ community. An associate director for supplier diversity, Michelle Thomas, has been hired to support the plan’s implementation.
•    A partnership between Princeton University and the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (EFA) will expand opportunities for colleges and universities to invest with diverse asset managers. Approximately $430 million bonds were issued through the EFA and the financing represents the largest transaction in EFA history. Princeton and the EFA plan to continue their groundbreaking partnership creating opportunities for diverse investment banks to participate in future bond issuance.  
•    This month, the Office of Facilities convened an action forum of peer institutions, architects, construction leaders and others to explore collaborative strategies for enhancing the pipeline of minority-owned firms in the construction trades. 

Commitment: Develop general principles to govern questions about when and under what circumstances it might be appropriate for the University to remove or contextualize the names and representations of historical individuals honored on the Princeton campus. 

•    In April 2021, the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee to Govern Naming and Changes to Campus Iconography released its recommendations for overarching principles for naming, renaming and changing campus iconography. 
•    In conjunction with the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations to continue to diversify and contextualize the visual environment of the campus, Prospect House and sections of Nassau Hall were refreshed with new, community-oriented artwork.  
•    This spring, the CPUC Committee on Naming made recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding additional honorific naming opportunities on campus, which will be announced soon. 
•    Three new portraits commissioned in conjunction with the University’s History and Sense of Place Initiative have been completed and are scheduled for dedication this month and in the fall. The portraits are of: former U.S. Senator William (Bill) Bradley, Class of 1965; Elaine Fuchs, Graduate School Class of 1977 and a world-renowned leader in cell biology and molecular genetics; and Ruth Simmons, a distinguished Princeton administrator and former vice provost who now serves as president of Prairie View A&M University. The three are among eight new portraits of alumni and former faculty and administrators commissioned since 2018 to reflect the diversity of the University community.

Commitment: Undertake a review of employee policies and benefits with an eye to providing equal access to these benefits for employees in lower-paid positions and others who may have been disproportionally affected by systemic racism or other identity-based inequities.

•    Enhancements to the Employee Child Care Assistance Program, Children’s Educational Assistance Plan, Long-Term Disability, and Adoption and Surrogacy Program were announced in April. The changes are aimed at promoting greater equity and access to employee benefits, such as doubling the amount that eligible employees may receive to help pay for their children’s college and trade school tuitions and fees.  

Commitment: Strengthen support for racial equity and diversity-related professional development and other educational programming.
•    The University organized the Ad Hoc Committee on Racial Equity and Diversity-Related Professional Development, which delivered its report in May 2021. Based on the committee’s recommendations, Princeton has approved an action plan focused on expansion of training resources and infrastructure. A staff person has been hired to coordinate the implementation of the action plan. 
•    The Keller Center launched its inaugural cohort for the Program in Institutional and Historical Racism.
•    The University offered more than 141 professional development workshops and other opportunities to faculty, postdoctoral researchers and staff members during the 2021-22 academic year. These were offered through the Office of Human Resources and the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, with support from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.

Commitment: Support academic curricular and scholarly initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and addressing systemic racism. 

•    As a part of the Office of the Dean for Research’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, the Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation (PACRI) was announced this month. PACRI is one of several initiatives aimed at growing a more inclusive research, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Princeton and beyond. To support the launch of PACRI, Princeton is working with the United Negro College Fund, which has lent its extensive expertise to facilitate the selection of an initial cohort of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for the pilot phase. The initial partners are: Howard University, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
•    The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) announced the appointment of Rayna Truelove as the inaugural associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion. The newly created role at SPIA reflects the school’s efforts to build and sustain an inclusive environment while aligning with the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
•    The Princeton University Library launched the Early Career Fellowship Program in collaboration with Princeton’s Office of the Provost and North Carolina Central University School of Library and Information Sciences (NCCU SLIS). The partnership creates eight fellowship opportunities aimed at recent graduates of NCCU SLIS over the course of the next four years. The NCCU SLIS program stands as the only American Library Association-accredited program at an HBCU. Creating a long-term partnership with NCCU SLIS is part of PUL’s ongoing commitment to implement strategies aimed at recruiting and retaining staff from underrepresented groups. The first two fellows are expected to join PUL this summer, with another two starting in summer 2023.
•    The Program in Linguistics expanded American Sign Language and now allows students to fulfill their language requirement with ASL courses. Princeton also offers the class “American Deaf Culture.” These courses are part of an expanded focus on disability, accessibility and inclusion across the University, including Princeton’s physical campus and digital assets, services and programs for students, and new academic programs.
•    Later this month, the Graduate School will host the inaugural Inclusive Academy Symposium. The symposium is an in-person two-day diversity conference focused on supporting graduate students and post-doctoral scholars from underrepresented backgrounds on an array of topics related to success in the academy and on the job market. The symposium will culminate in a dinner recognizing “the “Best of Access, Diversity and Inclusion,” also known as the BADI awards. The BADI awards will honor and celebrate faculty, staff, post-doctoral candidates and graduate students who have made significant impacts in the Princeton graduate student community around diversity and inclusion.  

Commitment: Provide increased accountability around institutional goals, and collect and publish additional University data around diversity, equity and inclusion. 
•    The inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion annual report, published in October 2021, is available for review or download. The second annual report will be released in fall 2022. 

Commitment: Enhance strategies to assure diverse representation and viewpoints on external advisory committees.  
•    Over the past two years with the support of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the Office of Advancement has worked extensively to begin to build broadly diverse pipelines of accomplished alumni, parents, spouses and friends to recommend for service on advisory councils across disciplines. The Office of Advancement has also engaged academic department chairs to increase partnership on council pipeline development, governance and volunteer management.