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Sarah-Jane Leslie ’07 steps down as Dean of Graduate School

She plans to resume teaching full-time at Princeton

Denise Applewhite / Office of Communications 

Effective July 1, Sarah-Jane Leslie ’07, the Class of 1943 Professor of Philosophy, will step down from her position as Dean of the Graduate School to resume teaching, research, and student mentorship. 

During her three-year tenure, Leslie oversaw the launch of the Graduate Scholars Program (GSP) and GradFUTURES, two initiatives that aim to expand diversity and professional development programs at the Graduate School. 


“I have decided to return to the faculty to resume my career as a researcher and teacher, and have a more flexible schedule while caring for my new infant daughter, Olivia,” said Leslie in an Office of Communications press release

She began her tenure on Jan. 1, 2018. As dean, Leslie supervises the administrative duties of the Graduate School and acts as a liaison to the University. She oversees nearly 3,000 students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in 42 departments and programs. 

When appointed in November of 2017, Leslie described her priorities as “preserving and enhancing the excellence of graduate education at Princeton, diversifying the graduate student body, and supporting graduate students’ professional development.” 

In 2019, the Graduate School welcomed its most diverse class of graduate students, which included representation from nearly 50 countries. Forty-three percent of the students from the United States were minorities and 28 percent identified as low-income or first-generation college students. 

Aiming to improve the experience of students from underrepresented backgrounds, Leslie launched the GSP, a first-year experience program to enhance academic and social support, in the fall of 2019. 

Held virtually last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GSP requires participants to meet six to eight times over the academic year for workshops focused on the transition to graduate education. 


Also in 2019, Leslie launched GradFUTURES, an initiative to expand professional development programs to prepare students for life after completing a Ph.D. 

“Sarah-Jane Leslie has been a dynamic and innovative leader for our Graduate School,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 in the press release. “I am grateful for her distinguished service to this University and, in particular, for her leadership on issues of graduate student diversity and professional development. While we will miss her in the administration, I appreciate her desire to return full-time to the teaching and research that she does so splendidly.”

Leslie earned her Ph.D. from Princeton in 2007. She began teaching at Princeton in 2006 and received her endowed professorship in 2014. According to the University press release, Leslie's research and teaching center on the intersections of philosophy and psychology, stereotyping and bias, academic gender gaps and diversity, language and generalization, empirical philosophy of mind, and cognitive science and development. 

Leslie’s work has been published in journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cognitive Psychology, and Philosophical Review

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