The title of “Master” in all six of the University’s residential colleges has been changed to “Head of the College,” the University announced on Wednesday. The change is effective immediately.
University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said the change from “Master” to “Head of the College” is in response to recommendations from the Special Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“We continue to look forward to other opportunities to do things,” he said. “Even this morning, we abolished the old and antiquated title of ‘Master’ and replaced it with ‘Heads of College.’”
Dean of the College Jill Dolan did not respond to a request for comment.
Head of Forbes College Michael Hecht indicated that the idea for this change was by no means new. The connotation of the title “Master,” Hecht explained, transcends racial connotations to also include instances of master and slave in other cultural traditions, like that of the Jewish people’s slavery in Egypt. He noted that the connotation may not be the one that Princeton or other universities like Oxford or Cambridge who have used the title of “Master” intended.
“Master is a very loaded word,” Hecht noted. “The word has this baggage associated with it, so let’s get rid of that baggage.”
Changing the title “Master” to “Head of the College,” Hecht noted, is only the latest step in an ongoing process, at Princeton and universities nation-wide, of revisiting and looking at how individuals respond to the culture around them and whether individuals feel included or excluded in that culture.
“Since everybody on campus and other campuses is thinking about that, let’s think about it and take action,” Hecht said.
Head of Wilson CollegeEduardo Cadava and Head of Butler CollegeNicole Shelton did not respond to requests for comment. Head of Rockefeller College Jeff Nunokawa,Head of Mathey College Harriet Flowers and Head of Whitman College Sandra Bermann declined to comment.
Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun did not respond to requests for comment.
Nathan Phan ’19 explained that he had seen some things on Yik Yak about the title change but had not fully understood what was going on. Upon being informed that the masters of the residential colleges will now be called heads of colleges, Phan said that he didn’t see the change as making that much of a difference.
“Regardless of their title, I feel like they should be capable of doing the same job they’ve always been doing,” he explained.