The Princeton experience is unique, and few outside the Orange Bubble can quite comprehend the academic and social life of a Princeton student. Tilghman worked hard to serve the needs of the student body, but several of her policies provoked controversy. We feel that a Princeton graduate would be better able to empathize and collaborate with students in order to improve campus life. A Princetonian could also more easily connect with Princeton’s broad alumni base for fundraising and community-building purposes.
We would also like the next president to have an educator’s outlook. This requirement does not necessarily restrict the candidate pool to professors; rather, the chief University officer must recognize that undergraduate education is a central component of Princeton’s mission. Tilghman’s successor should continue to prioritize teaching by hiring the best professors and constructing the best facilities for departments across the humanities and sciences. Continual improvement of Princeton’s record of academic excellence is the only way we can continue to produce bright graduates.
Additionally, the next president should seek to further expand access to Princeton by continuing to grow the financial aid program and through greater outreach. The administration set the bar for higher education by drastically improving financial aid programs and minimizing student debt. The removal of financial barriers has enhanced Princeton’s socioeconomic diversity, and further efforts should be made to promote our accessibility. Increased outreach to more remote communities is essential. Academically qualified students from every region should know that Princeton is a viable option for them.
Finally, it is our hope that the next president will be committed to expanding Princeton’s international presence. While Princeton is recognized as one of the nation’s premier institutions, we are not equally well known on an international scale. Tilghman deserves praise for the initiation of the Bridge Year and Global Seminar programs, and her successor should develop these programs while exploring additional options. Several of our peer institutions are increasing their global engagement — Yale is opening a school with the National University of Singapore next fall, and NYU opened a campus in Abu Dhabi a few years ago. Building overseas campuses might not be the best option, but at the very least the University needs to consider its global strategy. A president with a global outlook can spearhead the campaign to make Princeton more internationally relevant.
Tilghman took on the issues of her tenure with remarkable aplomb and conviction. Now, a decade later, Princeton faces different challenges. We urge the search committee to address the concerns of all members of the Princeton community in the hopes that we find a leader who will capably lead Princeton swiftly into the future.