President Eisgruber calls on University leadership to confront realities and legacy of racism at every level of our institution

Dear Members of the Princeton Community,

In response to recent tragic events, over the past several weeks our University—along with the rest of our nation—has been engaged in a conversation about racial injustice in America and the ongoing reality of oppression and violence against Black Americans. Individually and collectively, we have asked how we can do our part to confront racism honestly and effectively. We have begun identifying and taking steps—but we must do more.

We must think broadly and ask hard questions of ourselves. We must reflect on our place in the world and challenge ourselves to identify additional steps we can take to fight racism. As a University, we must examine all aspects of this institution—from our scholarly work to our daily operations—with a critical eye and a bias toward action. This will be an ongoing process, one that depends on concrete and reasoned steps.

Building on past work, our community has begun to take action. The University has already announced an initial series of new funding initiatives—the first, immediate steps in an ongoing effort to bring to bear the research, teaching, and service-focused mission of the University on the critical issues of racial injustice.

Through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, we have established a new grant program (“Princeton RISE”) that provides immediate resources for undergraduate and graduate students who want to engage in work over the summer to address racial inequalities and injustices. We have put out a call for faculty-led projects to engage undergraduate students in research or scholarly work that addresses racism, including systemic racism and racial injustice. We have identified funding to support faculty members who want to create or expand course offerings related to systemic racism, racial injustice, anti-racism, and the history of civil rights or anti‑racist movements.

We obviously need to do even more. We have therefore been asking ourselves and our community how Princeton can best respond to this moment as an institution. As part of this process, I have formally charged the members of Princeton’s Cabinet—the senior academic and administrative leaders of our University—to identify specific actions that can be taken in their areas of responsibility to confront racism in our own community and in the world at large. Today, I am sharing with you the charge I have given to them.

As I told the Cabinet, Chair of the Board of Trustees Weezie Sams and I have also initiated a conversation within the board about these topics, beginning with individual conversations with every trustee. The full board will convene in a special meeting later this month to continue discussing how the University can help fight systemic racism.

This is one step in a long journey, and we will continue to need input from all of you—students, faculty, and staff—to determine where we can do better and where we can do more. If you have input that you would like to share with the full Cabinet or individual members, we invite you to send suggestions to

I want to thank all of you who have raised your voices in the past weeks, and who have stepped up to the task at hand. We all share this responsibility to one another and to justice.

With best wishes,


2020 Virtual Commencement

The University will celebrate the Class of 2020 — undergraduates and graduate students — over the next week: You can find specific information about the virtual Commencement ceremony and other University activities including the program, speakers, Graduate Hooding and individual departmental events at our Commencement website. At that site, you will also find a #Princeton20 Celebration Kit of digital and social media assets, as well as a comprehensive FAQ. The May 31 virtual event will be streamed on the virtual Commencement page, the University homepage, the Media Central Live page as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Hope isn’t Canceled

Rabbi Julie Roth writes: “This year, when we are all restricted from leaving our homes and passing through the threshold of our doorways into the world, let us stand up despite our isolation, anxiety and despair, and open our doors and our hearts with singing.”

Caring for the community during a global health emergency

In a letter to the editor fo the Daily Princetonian, Aly Kassam-Remtulla , Irini Daskalaki and Robin Izzo update the community on the University’s response to coronavirus and our efforts to support those affected by this global health emergency:

Since the emergence of the new coronavirus in China and declaration of a global health emergency, we have taken the situation seriously and have redoubled our efforts to fulfill a core responsibility we have as an administration: to ensure the health and safety of every member of the University community.

It has now been a week since the University first reached out to all students, faculty, and staff with information on coronavirus and the steps being taken on behalf of our community. 

Our actions so far and plans going forward have been shaped by federal and state government guidance — including from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), with whom we are in constant contact — as well as public health best practices and the recommendations of the University’s health and emergency response experts.

Meet Ben Chang: diplomat, DJ, deputy vice president of communications

Ben Chang, the University’s Deputy Vice President of Communications, is a strait-laced statesman. He’s also a DJ and a photographer. He’s a spokesperson for one of the nation’s oldest, most elite institutions. He’s also a first-generation American who sees himself as aiding and representing those whom the establishment leaves behind.

Ben Chang said:
“For years and years, I thought of Princeton and other schools in a sort of word-cloud. You wouldn’t think ‘first-generation.’ You wouldn’t think ‘a leader in financial aid and opportunity.’ You wouldn’t think ‘trying to drive a conversation nationwide about access and opportunity.’ What I realized coming into Princeton was that there was this great sense of opportunity and innovation — things unexpected to talk about at Princeton — but also, a challenge. There’s a perception gap to close. As a communicator, that’s exciting.”

New technology boosts energy efficiency in data centers

Minjie Chen, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and his team are building a family of devices to dramatically reduce power consumption at the gigantic data centers that serve as the backbone of internet services and cloud computing.

Nassau Street entrance closes to vehicles

Beginning Friday, Dec. 20, the vehicle gates at the Nassau Street entrance to campus will remain closed 24 hours a day, and there will be no vehicle access to campus from Nassau Street. The gates will continue to open for vehicles leaving campus. All vehicles should enter campus on Elm Drive via Faculty Road. The South Guard Booth will continue to be open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Statements by President Eisgruber, Hua Qu on the release of Xiyue Wang

President Christopher L. Eisgruber issued this statement following the release of graduate student Xiyue Wang, who had been held in Iran since 2016:

“The entire Princeton University community is overjoyed that Xiyue Wang can finally return home to his wife and young son, and we look forward to welcoming him back to campus. We are grateful to everyone, at Princeton and beyond, who has supported Xiyue and his family throughout his unjust imprisonment, and for all the efforts that have led to his release. We would like to especially extend our thanks to the United States government, the government of Switzerland, and the students, faculty and staff who continued to advocate for Xiyue’s freedom throughout this ordeal.”

Hua Qu, wife of Xiyue Wang, issued this statement:

“Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue. We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”

Trenton Youth Orchestra and Trenton Youth Singers to present concert

The Trenton Youth Orchestra and Trenton Youth Singers will present their annual winter concert, “”It’s the Most Incredible Time of the Year,” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 in Rocky Common Room. As part of the Trenton Arts @ Princeton Saturday morning program, the Trenton Youth Orchestra and Trenton Youth Singers provide free musical instruction, programming, and performance opportunities for students from Trenton public schools. Trenton Arts @ Princeton is supported by the Department of Music, Princeton University Concerts, Pace Center for Civic Engagement, and Gustavo Dudamel Foundation.

Princeton welcomes most diverse class of graduate students to campus

More than 650 new graduate students were welcomed to Princeton University this week. The master’s and doctoral candidates represent the most diverse group of incoming graduate students to Princeton. Kicking off Graduate Student Orientation in Richardson Auditorium on Sept. 9, President Christopher L. Eisgruber said the University looks forward to the infusion of creativity, innovation and energy that graduate students bring each year. “I’m also thrilled that by many different metrics this is the most diverse class of graduate students ever admitted and matriculated to Princeton,” he said. Additional coverage from the Daily Princetonian: University admits most diverse graduate class in history

Higher Education in the Spotlight

Higher education has been prominent in the news this week, demonstrating the intense spotlight on the nation’s institutions of higher learning, including Princeton. So, we want to offer some insight into how the University thinks about and addresses these issues.


In the news: a New York Times editorial calling for the end to legacy admissions nationally and coverage in the Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed of a new book arguing that the hunt for tuition dollars drives admission decisions

A Princeton perspective: President Eisgruber wrote in his 2018 letter to the University community that “every single student on this campus is here because of merit”:

“The trade-offs in the admission process are complex and difficult, but this much is straightforward and singularly important: every single student on this campus is here because of merit. All of our students are here because we have made a judgment, on the basis of exceptionally demanding standards, that they have what it takes to succeed at Princeton, to enhance the education of their peers, and to use their education ‘in the nation’s service and the service of humanity’ after they graduate.That is true of our undergraduates and our graduate students. It is true of our athletes, our artists, our legacies, our first-generation students, and our students from every state and every country represented on this campus. They all have the talent needed to benefit from the transformative education made possible by our superb faculty and staff.”


In the news: a Times column by Harvard professor Anthony Abraham Jack writes about the true challenges faced by him and other low-income college students

A Princeton perspective: Jack was part of a conference held on Princeton campus in February for administrators who work with first-generation, low-income (FLI) students from 40 highly selective institutions. “1vyG,” the largest conference for FLI students in the nation, was also held at Princeton in February. Read more about the conferences, which offered the opportunity to to build community, share experiences and create visions for change.


In the news: the latest college rankings from U.S. News.

A Princeton perspective: Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told ROI-NJ:

“While we appreciate acknowledgement for our efforts as a research university dedicated to world-class education and innovation, our focus remains on preparing students for meaningful lives in the nation’s service and the service of humanity. To do that, we strive to support a diverse community and offer financial aid that allows students from a wide-range of backgrounds and experiences to graduate debt-free, pursue a wide range of careers, and impact the community and world around them.”