Princeton University

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Education

Princeton University
Princeton University Coat of Arms
Motto Dei sub numine viget
(Under God's power she flourishes)
Established 1746
Type Private
Endowment US $12.7 billion
President Shirley M. Tilghman
Staff 1,103
Undergraduates 4,635
Postgraduates 1,975
Location Borough of Princeton,
Princeton Township,
and West Windsor Township, New Jersey, USA
Campus Suburban, 600 acres (2.4 km²)
(Princeton Borough and Township)
Athletics 38 sports teams
Nickname Tigers

Princeton University is a coeducational private university located in Princeton, New Jersey in the United States of America.

According to the university, it is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. and is one of the eight Ivy League universities. Originally founded at Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, it relocated to Princeton in 1756 and was renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Princeton has traditionally focused on undergraduate education and academic research, though in recent decades it has increased its focus on graduate education and now offers a large number of top-rated professional Master's degrees and PhD programs in a range of subjects. Its library holds over six million volumes. Among many others, areas of research include anthropology, geophysics, entomology, and robotics, while the Forrestal Campus has special facilities for the study of plasma physics and meteorology.

Princeton has never had any official religious affiliation, rare among American universities of its age. At one time, it had close ties to the Presbyterian Church, but today it is nonsectarian and makes no religious demands on its students. The university has ties with the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Theological Seminary and the Westminster Choir College of Rider University.

About Princeton

Many campus buildings have neo-Gothic archways and lanterns
Many campus buildings have neo-Gothic archways and lanterns

Princeton offers two main undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and the Bachelor of Science in engineering (B.S.E.). Courses in the humanities are traditionally either seminars or semi-weekly lectures with an additional discussion seminar, called a "precept" (short for "preceptorial"). To graduate, all A.B. candidates must complete a senior thesis and one or two extensive pieces of independent research, known as "junior papers" or "JPs." They must also fulfill a two-semester foreign language requirement and distribution requirements. 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. A.B. candidates typically have more freedom in course selection than B.S.E. candidates, though both enjoy a comparatively high degree of latitude in creating a self-structured curriculum.

Princeton offers postgraduate research degrees (most notably the Ph.D.), and ranks among the best in many fields, including mathematics, physics, astronomy and plasma physics, economics, history, political science, philosophy, and English. However, it does not have the extensive range of professional postgraduate schools of many other universities—for instance, Princeton has no medical school, law school, or business school. Its most famous professional school is the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (known as "Woody Woo" to students), founded in 1930 as the School of Public and International Affairs and renamed in 1948. The university also offers professional graduate degrees in engineering, architecture, and finance.

The university's library system has over eleven million holdings including six million volumes; the main university library, Firestone Library, housing almost four million volumes, is one of the largest university libraries in the world (and among the largest "open stack" libraries in existence). Its collections include priceless manuscripts such as MS. 71, s.x/xi, generically known as the Blickling homilies. In addition to Firestone, many individual disciplines have their own libraries, including architecture, art history, East Asian studies, engineering, geology, international affairs and public policy, and Near Eastern studies. Seniors in some departments can register for enclosed carrels in the main library for workspace and the private storage of books and research materials.

The university is also home to the third-largest university chapel in the world, the Princeton University Chapel. Known for its gothic architecture, the chapel houses one of the largest and most precious stained glass collections in the country. Both the Opening Exercises for entering freshmen and the Baccalaureate Service for graduating seniors take place in the University Chapel.

Walker, Class of 1903, and Cuyler Halls are Princeton dormitories in the Collegiate Gothic style.
Walker, Class of 1903, and Cuyler Halls are Princeton dormitories in the Collegiate Gothic style.
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.
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.
Clio Hall.
Clio Hall.

The campus, located on 2 km² of landscaped grounds, features a large number of Neo-gothic-style buildings, most dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is situated about one hour from New York City and Philadelphia. The first Princeton building constructed was Nassau Hall, situated in the north end of Campus on Nassau Street. Stanhope Hall (once a library, now administrative offices) and East and West College, both dormitories, followed. While many of the succeeding buildings—particularly the dormitories of the Northern campus—were built in a Collegiate Gothic style, the university is something of a mixture of American architectural movements. Greek Revival temples (Whig and Clio Halls) abut the lawn south of Nassau Hall, while a crenellated theatre (Murray-Dodge) guards the route west to the library. Modern buildings are confined to the east and south of the campus, a quarter overlooked by the 14-story Fine Hall. Fine, the Math Department's home, designed by Warner, Burns, Toan and Lunde and completed in 1970, is the tallest building at the University. Contemporary additions feature a number of big-name architects, including IM Pei's Spelman Halls, Robert Venturi's Frist Campus Centre, Rafael Vinoly's Carl Icahn Laboratory, and the Hillier Group's Bowen Hall. A residential college by Demetri Porphyrios and a science library by Frank Gehry are under construction. Much sculpture adorns the campus, including pieces by Henry Moore (Oval with Points, also nicknamed "Nixon's Nose"), Clement Meadmore (Upstart II), and Alexander Calder (Five Disks: One Empty). At the base of campus is the Delaware and Raritan Canal, dating from 1830, and Lake Carnegie, a man-made lake donated by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, used for rowing.

Princeton is among the wealthiest universities in the world, with an endowment just over 11 billion US dollars ( #4th largest in the United States) sustained through the continued donations of its alumni and maintained by investment advisors. Some of Princeton's wealth is invested in its art museum, which features works by Claude Monet and Andy Warhol, among other prominent artists.

Princeton consistently ranks among the best universities in the world, with seven consecutive number one (#1) rankings for its collegiate offerings by U.S. News & World Report.. Comprehensively, the 2006 Academic Ranking of World Universities, popularized by The Economist and produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Institute of Higher Education, ranked Princeton the 8th best university in the world (tied with the University of Chicago) in terms of quality of scientific research leading towards numerous awards. Furthermore, in the annual rankings by the The Times Higher Education Supplement, based on a subjective peer review by scholars, Princeton placed 10th internationally . Finally, in its 2006 evaluation of universities on the dual basis of distinction in research and international diversity, Newsweek ranked Princeton 15th in the world.

Princeton hosts two Model United Nations conferences, PMUNC in the fall for high school students and PICSIM in the spring for college students. Princeton also runs Princeton Model Congress, held once a year in mid-November. The 4-day conference is for high schoolers from around the country and the fierce competition give the conference its pretige.

Princeton University also recently purchased a supercomputer, Orangena, from IBM, as of 11/2005 the 79th fastest in the world ( LINPACK performance of 4713; compare up to 12250 for other U. S. universities and 280600 for the top-ranked supercomputer, belonging to the U. S. Department of Energy).

Financial aid

Princeton University was named by the Princeton Review (which, despite its name, is unaffiliated with the University) as one of the most affordable colleges in the nation. In 2001, Princeton was the first university to eliminate loans for all students who qualify for aid, expanding a program instituted three years earlier in which loans were replaced with grants for low and middle-income students. The move followed a series of enhancements to Princeton's aid program beginning in 1998, which included:

  • admitting international students on a " need-blind" basis along with U.S. students,
  • removing the value of the family home from the formula that calculates how much parents are expected to contribute to college,
  • reducing the contribution rate on student savings, and
  • decreasing summer savings expectations for lower- and middle-income students.

Princeton has no plans to match financial aid initiatives by its peers, Yale and Harvard, which eliminate family contributions altogether for low-income students. According to Princeton Director of Financial Aid Don Betterton, "We're satisfied with our program the way it is."

Princeton is also named by both U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review to have the fewest number of students graduating with debt. The Office of Financial Aid estimates that Princeton seniors on aid will graduate with average indebtedness of $2,360. That compares to the national average of about $20,000 for graduating seniors who have borrowed, according to the office. Statistics show that for the Class of 2009, close to 60% of incoming students are on some type of financial aid.

Undergraduate program

Undergraduates at Princeton University agree to conform to an academic honesty policy called the Honour Code. Students write and sign the honor pledge, "I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code during this examination," on every in-class exam they take at Princeton. (The form of the pledge was changed slightly in 1980; it formerly read, "I pledge my honor that during this examination, I have neither given nor received assistance.") The Code carries a second obligation: upon matriculation, every student pledges to report any suspected cheating to the student-run Honor Committee. Because of this code, students take all tests unsupervised by faculty members. Violations of the Honor Code incur the strongest of disciplinary actions, including suspension and expulsion. Out-of-class exercises are outside the Honour Committee's jurisdiction, but students are often expected to sign a pledge on their papers that they have not plagiarized their work ("This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations.").

More than 95 percent of students live on campus in dormitories. Freshmen and sophomores live in residential colleges. Later-year students have the option to live off-campus, but very few do, because rents in the Princeton area are extremely high. Undergraduate social life revolves around a number of coeducational " eating clubs," which are open to upperclassmen and serve a similar role to that which fraternities and sororities do at some other campuses.

Princeton has a competitive "need-blind" admission policy, accepting students into the incoming class based on merit, not ability to pay tuition fees. Despite these policies, Princeton's student body is often regarded as more culturally conservative or traditional than the student bodies of peer institutions. The administration has aggressively pursued a diversification policy: it is a member of the Davis United World College Fund, and students from these international schools can expect to have their full needs, as assessed by Princeton, met by the fund.

Princeton is also home to one of the world's top-ranked debating societies, the American Whig-Cliosophic Society ("Whig-Clio"), which is a member of the American Parliamentary Debating Association and has twice hosted the World Universities Debating Championships. Whig-Clio also incorporates a number of other student activities and is the oldest college political literary and debate society in the country.


The College of New Jersey

Established by the " New Light" Presbyterians, Princeton was originally intended to train Presbyterian ministers. The college opened at Elizabeth, New Jersey, under the presidency of Jonathan Dickinson as the College of New Jersey. (A proposal was made to name it for the colonial Governor, Jonathan Belcher, but he declined.) Its second president was Aaron Burr, Sr.; the third was Jonathan Edwards. In 1756, the college moved to Princeton, New Jersey.

Between the time of the move to Princeton in 1756 and the construction of Stanhope Hall in 1803, the University's sole building was Nassau Hall, named for William III of England of the House of Orange-Nassau. The University also got one of its colors, orange, from William III. During the American Revolution, Princeton was occupied by both sides, and the college's buildings were heavily damaged. The Battle of Princeton, fought in a nearby field in January of 1777, proved to be a decisive victory for General George Washington and his troops. Two of Princeton's leading citizens signed the Declaration of Independence, and during the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall, making Princeton the country's capital for four months. The much-abused landmark survived bombardment with cannonballs in the Revolutionary War when General Washington struggled to wrest the building from British control, as well as later fires that left only its walls standing 1802 and 1855. Rebuilt by Joseph Henry Latrobe, John Notman, and John Witherspoon, the modern Nassau Hall has been much revised and expanded from the Robert Smith designed original. Over the centuries, its role shifted from an all-purpose building, comprising office, dormitory, library, and classroom space, to classrooms only, to its present role as the administrative centre of the university. Originally, the sculptures in front of the building were lions, as a gift in 1879. These were later replaced with tigers in 1911.

The Princeton Theological Seminary broke off from the college in 1812, since the Presbyterians wanted their ministers to have more theological training, while the faculty and students would have been content with less. This reduced the student body and the external support for Princeton for some time. The two institutions currently enjoy a close relationship based on common history and shared resources.

Nassau Hall, the University's oldest building. Note the tiger sculptures beside the steps (See discussion above).
Nassau Hall, the University's oldest building. Note the tiger sculptures beside the steps (See discussion above).

The university was becoming an obscure backwater when President James McCosh took office in 1868. During his two decades in power, 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. McCosh Hall is named in his honour.


In 1896, the college officially changed its name from the College of New Jersey to Princeton University to honour the town in which it resided. During this year, the College also underwent large expansion and officially became a university. Under Woodrow Wilson, Princeton introduced the preceptorial system (1905), a then-unique concept that replaced the standard lecture method of teaching with a more personal form where 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 in the town of Princeton on Evelyn and Nassau streets, called the Evelyn College for Women, which was closed after roughly a decade of operation. After abortive discussions in 1967 with Sarah Lawrence College to relocate the women's college to Princeton and merge it with the university, 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 barely finished these plans by April 1969 when the admission's 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 freshwomen and transfer students of other years, entered Princeton on September 6, 1969 amidst much media attention.

The courtyard of East Pyne Hall
The courtyard of East Pyne Hall

Princeton University has been home to scholars, scientists, writers, and statesmen, including four United States presidents, two of whom graduated from the University. James Madison and Woodrow Wilson graduated from Princeton, Grover Cleveland was not an alumnus but served as a trustee of the University for some time while spending his retirement in the town of Princeton, and John F. Kennedy spent his freshman fall at the University before leaving due to illness and transferring to Harvard. The entertainer and civil rights figure Paul Robeson grew up in the Borough of Princeton, and artisans from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland have contributed to the town's architectural history. This legacy, spanning the entire history of American architecture, is preserved through buildings by such architects as Benjamin Latrobe, Ralph Adams Cram, McKim, Mead & White, Robert Venturi, and Nick Yeager.

Residential colleges

Cleveland Tower at the Old Graduate College in the noontime autumn sun. Watercolor.
Cleveland Tower at the Old Graduate College in the noontime autumn sun. Watercolor.

The undergraduate residential colleges are the residential-dining complexes that house freshmen, sophomores, and a handful of junior and senior resident advisers. Each college consists of a set of dormitories, a dining hall (e.g., Ricardo A. Mestres Hall), a variety of other amenities (study spaces, libraries, performance spaces, darkrooms, and the like), and a collection of administrators and associated faculty.

At present, Princeton has five undergraduate residential colleges. Two of these, Wilson College and Forbes College (formerly Princeton Inn College), date to the 1970's; the others were created in 1983 following the CURL (Committee on Undergraduate Residential Life) report suggesting colleges as a solution to a perception of fragmented campus social life. Each college houses approximately 500 freshmen and sophomores and has a dining hall and other residential amenities (computer clusters, game rooms, small libraries). Rockefeller College and Mathey College are located in the northwest corner of the campus; their Collegiate Gothic architecture often graces University brochures. Like most of Princeton's Gothic buildings, they predate the residential college system and were fashioned into colleges from individual dormitories. Wilson College and Butler College, located south of the centre of the campus, were built in the 1960s, with Wilson serving as an early experiment in Residential Colleges. Butler, like Rockefeller and Mathey, was 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 its edgy modernist design, Butler College is slated for demolition and quick replacement following the completion of a sixth residential college in 2007. Forbes College, located slightly southwest of the southwest corner of the campus, is a former hotel, purchased by the university and expanded to form a residential college. The "Princeton Inn College" was one of the first residential colleges in the 1970s along with Wilson College. Butler and most of Forbes are in a different municipality, Princeton Township, from the rest of the main campus, which is in Princeton Borough. Princeton broke ground for a sixth college, named Whitman College after its principal sponsor, eBay CEO Meg Whitman ' 77, in late 2003. The new dormitories will be constructed in the neo-Gothic architectural style and have been designed by renowned architect Demetri Porphyrios.

A variant on the present college system was originally proposed by University President Woodrow Wilson in the early twentieth century. 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, when Wilson College was established, capping a series of alternatives to the eating clubs. A series of often fierce debates raged before the present underclass-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 done at Harvard with Yale's money.

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, which the latter won. (Wilson preferred a central location for the College; West wanted the graduate students as far as possible from the noisy, dissolute undergraduates.) The G.C. 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 houses more students. Its design departs from collegiate gothic, and is reminiscent of Butler College, the newest of the five pre-Whitman undergraduate colleges.

Each residential college hosts social events and activities, guest speakers (such as Edward Norton, who showed a special sneak-preview of Fight Club on campus), and trips. Residential Colleges are best known for their performing art trips to New York City. Students sign up to take trips to see the ballet, the opera, and Broadway shows.


The Princeton Review declared the university the 10th strongest "jock school" in the nation. It has also consistently been ranked at the top of the Time Magazine's Strongest College Sports Teams lists. Most recently, Princeton was ranked as a top 10 school for athletics by Sports Illustrated. Princeton is best known for its men and women's crew teams, winning several NCAA and Eastern titles in recent years.

Princeton won a record 21 conference titles from 2000-2001. By the end of 2004, Princeton had garnered 36 Ivy League conference titles from 2001-2004 sports seasons. In 2005, its women's soccer team made the NCAA Final Four, the first Ivy League team to do so. The Tigers have taken every field hockey conference title since 1994.

Princeton's basketball team is perhaps the best-known team within the Ivy League, nicknamed the "perennial giant killer". From 1992-2001, a nine year span, Princeton's men's basketball team had entered the NCAA tournament 6 times—from a conference that has never had an at-large entry in the NCAA tournament. For the last half-century, Princeton and Penn have traditionally battled for men's basketball dominance in the Ivy League; Princeton had its first losing season in 50 years of Ivy League basketball in 2005. Princeton tied the record for fewest points in a Division I game since the 3-point line started in 1986-87 when they scored 21 points in a loss against Monmouth University on December 14, 2005.

Princeton's men's lacrosse team has enjoyed much success since the early 1990s and is widely recognized as a perennial powerhouse in the Division I ranks. The team has won thirteen Ivy League titles (1992, 1993, 1995-2004, 2006) and six national titles (1992, 1994, 1996-1998, 2001). Dave Morrow, a member of the 1992 championship team, is the founder of Warrior Lacrosse, the official supplier of the Princeton team.

The Princeton women's volleyball team has won 13 Ivy League titles, and its men's volleyball team in 1998 became the first non-scholarship school to make the NCAA Final Four in 25 years.

On November 6, 1869, Princeton fielded a team of twenty-five undergraduates to compete against Rutgers College in the first intercollegiate football game that—played under rules consistent with soccer—was held on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers won with a score of six runs to Princeton's four. However, Princeton won every football game subsequent from the following week's rematch through 1938. The two schools, which compete in other NCAA events, have not met in football since 1980. Princeton's rivalry with Yale, active since 1873, is the second oldest in American football. In more recent years, Princeton has excelled in both men's and women's lacrosse, and both men's and women's crew.

Significant places

Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall
Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall is the main administrative building of the University.

Cannon Green

Cannon Green is located on the south end of the main lawn. Buried in the ground at the centre is the "Big Cannon", the top of which protrudes from the earth and is traditionally spray-painted in orange with the current senior class year. A second "Little Cannon" is buried in the lawn in front of nearby Whig Hall. Both were buried in response to periodic thefts by Rutgers students. The "Big Cannon" is said to have been left in Princeton by Hessians after the Revolutionary War but moved to New Brunswick during the War of 1812. Ownership of the cannon was disputed and the cannon was eventually taken back to Princeton partly by a military company and then by 100 Princeton students. The "Big Cannon" was eventually buried in its current location in front of Nassau Hall in 1840. In 1875, Rutgers students attempting to recover the original cannon stole the "Little Cannon" instead. The smaller cannon was subsequently recovered and buried as well. The protruding cannons are occasionally painted scarlet by Rutgers students who continue the traditional dispute.

The Academy Award winning movie, A Beautiful Mind, contains a scene on Cannon Green. John Nash plays Go with his college rival while sitting on stone benches in the middle of the green. (The benches do not exist; like many elements of the Princeton setting, they were introduced for the film.)

McCarter Theatre

McCarter Theater
McCarter Theatre

The McCarter Theatre is recognized as one of this country's leading regional theaters. Under the Artistic Direction of Emily Mann, the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre has demonstrated a commitment to the highest professional standards. McCarter's vision is to create a theatre of testimony, engaged in a dialogue with the world around it, paying tribute to the enduring power of the human spirit and scope of the imagination.

A hallmark of the Theatre Series is the creation of new work. Since 1991, over 20 new plays and adaptations have had their World or American premieres at McCarter including: Emily Mann's Having Our Say, Athol Fugard's Valley Song, John Henry Redwood's The Old Settler, and Stephen Wadworth's adaptations of Marivaux. McCarter premieres have been produced in cities across the country. In the past, the shows of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, Thornton Wilder's Our Town, and Joseph Kesserling's Arsenic and Old Lace made their world premieres at McCarter.

McCarter Theatre is also the unofficial home of the famous Princeton Triangle Club, a comedy theatre troupe whose alumni include Brooke Shields and Academy Award-winning actor Jimmy Stewart.

Princeton University Art Museum

Princeton University Art Museum was established to give students direct, intimate, and sustained access to original works of art to complement and enrich instruction and research at the University, and this continues to be its primary function.

Numbering nearly 60,000 objects, the collections range chronologically 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 Princeton University’s 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 nineteenth century, and there is a growing collection of twentieth-century and contemporary art.

Among the strengths in the museum are the collections of Chinese art, with important holdings in bronzes, tomb figurines, painting, and calligraphy; and pre-Columbian art, with examples of the art of the Maya. The museum has collections of old master prints and drawings and a comprehensive collection of original photographs. African art is represented as well as Northwest Coast Indian art. Other works include those of the John B. Putnam, Jr., Memorial Collection of twentieth-century sculpture, including works by such modern masters as Alexander Calder, Jacques Lipshitz, Henry Moore, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.

Undergraduate admissions

In 2006, Princeton's overall acceptance rate was 10.2%, accepting 1792 students from a pool of 17,563 applicants. 599 of these were accepted Early Decision out of a total 2236 ED applicants, for a 26.8% Early Decision acceptance rate. Regular Decision was much harsher, with acceptances going to only 1193 out of 15327 applicants (this includes deferred ED students as well), for a 7.8% admittance rate.

On September 18, 2006, Princeton University announced an end to its Early Decision program starting for the class of 2012. From the Class of 2012 onward, all Princeton applicants will be considered by the admissions office in one pool.


  • Arch Sings - Free late-night concerts in one of the larger arches on campus offered by one or a few of Princeton's fourteen a cappella groups. Most often held in Blair Arch or Class of 1879 Arch.
  • Bonfire - ceremonial bonfire, held only if Princeton beats both Harvard and Yale at football in the same season; the most recent bonfire was lit November 17, 2006 after a 12-year drought.
  • Beer Jackets - Each graduating class (and each class at its multiple-of-5 reunion thereafter -- 5th, 10th, etc.) designs a Beer Jacket featuring their class year. The artwork is almost invariably dominated by the school colors and tiger motifs.
  • Bicker - Selection process for new-members employed by selective eating clubs
  • Cane Spree - an athletic competition between freshmen and sophomores held in the fall
  • The Clapper or Clapper Theft - climbing to the top of Nassau Hall and stealing the bell clapper so as to prevent the bell from ringing and, thus, from starting class on the first day of the school year. For safety reasons, the clapper has now been removed permanently.
  • Communiversity - an annual street fair with performances, arts and crafts, and other activities in an attempt to foster interaction between the University and residents of the Princeton community
  • Dean's Date Theatre - tradition of gathering late in the afternoon on Dean's Date (see below under "Lingo" outside McCosh Hall to watch other students run to hand in their papers before the final deadline. Some students perform cartwheels and other antics (if they are not running too late).
  • FitzRandolph Gate - at the end of Princeton's graduation ceremony, the new graduates process out through the main gate of the university as a symbol of their leaving college and entering the real world. According to tradition, anyone who leaves campus through FitzRandolph Gate before his or her own graduation date will not graduate (though entering through the gate is fine).
  • Houseparties - formal parties thrown simultaneously by all of the eating clubs at the end of the spring term
  • Lawnparties - parties with live bands thrown simultaneously by all of the eating clubs at the start of classes and conclusion of the year
  • Newman's Day - students attempt to drink 24 beers in the 24 hours of April 24th, origins of the day are shrouded in mystery; may be named after Paul Newman. Newman has spoken out against the tradition, however.
  • Nude Olympics - annual (nude) frolic in Holder Courtyard 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.
  • Prospect 11 - referring to the act of drinking a beer at all eleven eating clubs on The Street in one night. With the recent closure of Campus Club, this has become impossible, but the phrase "Prospect 10" has yet to firmly plant itself in the lexicon.
  • P-rade - traditional parade of alumni and their families, who process by class year, during Reunions
  • Reunions - annual gathering of alumni, held the weekend before graduation
  • Robo - commonly played team drinking game at Princeton University, thought to have originated there. Beirut is equally popular.
  • The Phantom of Fine Hall - a former tradition - before 1993, this was the legend of an obscure, shadowy figure that would infest Fine Hall (the Mathematics department's building) and write complex equations on blackboards. Although mentioned in Rebecca Goldstein's 1980s book The Mind-Body Problem about Princeton graduate student life (Penguin, reissued 1993), the legend self-deconstructed in the 1990s when the Phantom turned out to be in reality the inventor, in the 1950s, of the Nash equilibrium result in game theory, John Forbes Nash. The former Phantom, by then also haunting the computation centre where courtesy of handlers in the math department he was a sacred monster with a guest account, shared the 1994 Nobel Prize and is now a recognized member of the University community. (Unlike the book, the film version of A Beautiful Mind does not attempt to be factual; its screenwriter called it "a stab at the truth… but not by way of the facts.")
  • 21 Club

Old Nassau

This phrase can refer to:

  • Old Nassau, Princeton's alma mater since 1859, with words by then-freshman Harlan Page Peck and music by Karl A. Langlotz. Before the Langlotz tune was written, the song was sung to the melody of " Auld Lang Syne", which also fits. The text of Old Nassau is available from Wikisource.
  • Nassau Hall, to which the song refers, built in 1756 and named after William III of England, 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, Princeton University as a whole.
  • A chemical reaction, an example of a "clock reaction", dubbed "Old Nassau" because the solution turns first orange and then black, the Princeton colors. It is also known as the "Hallowe'en reaction".

Princeton neologisms

  • Bicker - the process by which students join selective eating clubs, similar to fraternity/sorority rush at other schools.
  • D-Bar - the "Debasement Bar," located in the basement of the Old Graduate College, is a hangout for graduate students, frequented by many undergrads as well.
  • Dean's Date - The last day of reading period; the day when all final papers and other written work must be turned in (see also "Dean's Date Theatre" above in the "Traditions" section). Exams start the day after Dean's Date. So named because extensions beyond Dean's Date cannot be granted by a faculty member; they require the permission of a Dean.
  • Dinky - One-car train that runs between Princeton Junction and Princeton station, a small rail station on the Princeton campus. Sometimes called the PJ & B (Princeton Junction & Back).
  • E-Quad - Engineering Quadrangle
  • Getting McCoshed - when a student is sent to McCosh Infirmary (not to be confused with the McCosh Hall) for excessive drinking.
  • Getting PMC'ed - when a student is hospitalized for drinking too much alcohol. In this case, a student is deemed too drunk to be treated by McCosh Infirmary and is instead transferred to Princeton Medical Center. The future of this lingo is uncertain due to Princeton Medical Center's recent name change to University Medical Centre at Princeton.
  • The Haven - Hoagie Haven, a popular and long-lived establishment located near the E-quad
  • Hose - As a transitive verb, to be rejected from a selective organization, e.g., in eating club bicker, interviews for selective courses, etc. (i.e. "You got hosed!").
  • Intersession - The one-week break between winter finals and the start of the spring semester. Often the time when seniors hunker down to begin writing their senior thesis.
  • Junior Slums - Area of undergraduate housing in the southwest part of campus. Includes Henry Hall, Foulke Hall, 1901 Hall, Pyne Hall, Laughlin Hall, and Lockhart Hall. So called because these are the dormitories that are usually left over from senior Room Draw and are thus taken by the juniors. Ironically, this is one of the prettiest areas of campus, where film crews usually go to film quintessential collegiate gothic buildings and grassy quads.
  • Locomotive - Distinctive Princeton cheer... "'hip, hip, rah, 'rah, 'rah, tiger, tiger, tiger, sis, sis, sis, boom boom boom bah. Princeton. Princeton. Princeton". (The 'Princeton' is interchangeable - It's common to replace "Princeton" with a class year to toast a particular class, especially during the P-rade, or during football games for the cheerleaders to say 'Tigers". Princeton is the home of cheerleading, amongst other things.)
  • The Nass - affectionate slang for The Nassau Weekly, a weekly arts and humor magazine.
  • Old Nassau - see previous section.
  • Precept - short for "preceptorial." A small seminar-style discussion group held as an adjunct to formal lectures.
  • The Prince - The Daily Princetonian, the daily campus newspaper.
  • Prospect 11 - A tradition in which undergraduates visit all eleven currently active eating clubs and drink a beer from each one. The number is variable, based on the number of eating clubs in operation. For example, it was known as the Prospect 13 in the 1970's and 80's. Since September 2005, and the closing of Campus Club, this tradition has been unceremoniously renamed the Prospect 10. The challenge is not in the drinking, but in the gaining access to each of the variably exclusive clubs.
  • Prospect Eleven - An autonomous vehicle built by undergraduate students to compete in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. Seeded 10th of 23 teams in the finals, out of an original group 195 teams in the Challenge. Completed 9.5 miles of autonomous travel in the race, finishing 19th - ahead of the undergraduate teams from Cornell and Caltech.
  • Prox - Proximity card. RFID-based access control card used to unlock dorms and other non-public areas. Also used on campus as a verb, as in "Can you prox me in?"
  • Pton - Common abbreviation for the school's name.
  • Reading Period - A ten-day study period between the end of classes and the beginning of exams in January and May.
  • The Street - Prospect Avenue, home of the eating clubs.
  • The Wa - The local Wawa convenience store and food market. A Wa Run is a trip there.
  • Woody Woo - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
  • Prex - The Princeton record exchange, an independent used music and movie store.

The Daily Princetonian hosts a detailed (if slightly dated) list of Princeton jargon; see A Princeton Dictionary.

Lists of Princeton people

  • List of presidents of Princeton University
  • List of Princeton University people

In fiction

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary debut, This Side of Paradise, is a loosely autobiographical story of his years at Princeton. A Princeton Alumni Weekly article on Princeton fiction called it the " Ur novel of Princeton life."
  • In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, the character Robert Cohn attended Princeton.
  • Geoffrey Wolff's The Final Club is a coming-of-age book about Nathaniel Auerbach Clay, a fictional member of the Princeton Class of 1960 (Wolff was an actual member of this class). The Final Club is written as homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby.
  • A Beautiful Mind, the Academy Award winning film about the famous mathematician John Forbes Nash features a major part depicting Nash's initial days at Princeton University. Although the film is a fictionalized biography, in real life Nash did receive his doctorate from Princeton and is a Princeton professor.
  • The movie I.Q., starring Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins with Walter Matthau as Albert Einstein takes place in Princeton. A scene where Tim Robbins' character gives a lecture is in Room 302 of the Palmer Physics Laboratory, which is now the Frist Campus Centre.
  • The book The Rule of Four, as well as a series of mystery books by Ann Waldron, including The Princeton Murders, Death of a Princeton President, and Unholy Death in Princeton are set on Princeton's campus and the campus of neighboring Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Princeton is one of their destinations. However, the film was not shot on the undergraduate campus (where the movie implies the protagonists are) but rather in the graduate dormitories.
  • In the film Risky Business, Tom Cruise as Joel Goodson proves himself Princeton material by becoming a pimp, leading to his interviewer's sexual gratification.
  • The movie Spanglish is presented as an essay on a fictional Princeton application.
  • The opening montage of Scent of a Woman included shots of the Junior Slums (see above in Lingo), Rockefeller College, and detail from Nassau Hall. However, in the movie, the location was not called Princeton but rather a private boarding school somewhere in New England.
  • The University's Frist Campus Centre is also the outside of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in " House", with shots of Lake Carnegie and the Princeton Crew Team in the opening credits.
  • In the Simpsons episode Brother from Another Series, Sideshow Bob remarks that his brother Cecil spent "four years at clown college", to which Cecil replies, "I'd thank you not to refer to Princeton that way."
  • In the film " The Princess Diaries 2", Anne Hathaway as Mia graduates from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy with the aim to change the world.
  • In the movie, "Bride of Chuckie", the character Dave, played by Gordon Michael Woolvett, is planning on attending Princeton in the fall.

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