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University Provost Deborah A. Prentice nominated to lead University of Cambridge

Eisgruber told faculty that the search for Prentice’s successor ‘will begin immediately’

<h5>Deborah Prentice speaking at a CPUC meeting in November 2021.</h5>
<h6>Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Deborah Prentice speaking at a CPUC meeting in November 2021.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

On Monday, Sept. 26, Princeton announced that University Provost Deborah A. Prentice has been nominated to take the lead at the University of Cambridge as the university’s first American Vice-Chancellor, the equivalent of the presidency at an American university.

With one of the University’s most powerful administrative positions now soon to be vacated, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 shared in an email to faculty and staff that “the search for [Prentice’s] successor will begin immediately.”

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The announcement said that Prentice “would be the first American to fill the top academic and administrative role at the [University of Cambridge], among the world’s oldest, which was founded in 1209.” Prentice, the University’s Provost for the past five years and professor of psychology for over 25 years, called the nomination “a huge honor” in the University announcement.

Varsity, a British news outlet, reported that Prentice will serve as the long-term successor to current Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope.

“I am confident that Professor Prentice will bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to Cambridge, and I look forward to seeing our world-leading university continue to flourish under her guidance,” Toope told Varsity of his successor.

The University of Cambridge, located in Cambridge, United Kingdom, is regarded as one of the most prestigious higher-education institutions in the world. 

Eisgruber said Prentice is a “brilliant choice” for the role in the University statement. “I am delighted by the prospect that [Prentice] will lead another of the world’s great research universities,” he said.

Prentice also shared her gratitude for the nomination, saying that it is “a huge honor.” Prentice has served the University in a variety of roles over the past 34 years, most recently as the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, and has helped lead “nearly 20 [initiatives] stemming from the University’s 2016 strategic planning framework.” According to her biography on the University Provost’s website, Prentice has “served as the dean of the faculty from 2014–2017, chair of the Psychology Department for 12 years, and co-chair of the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity.”

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Over her academic career, Prentice has received numerous accolades and awards, including the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1994, and has published over 50 pieces of literature in the fields of psychology and public affairs.

Reflecting on her many years spent at Princeton, Prentice expressed her love for the University and gratitude for the people she has come to know.

“I’ll always love Princeton,” she said in the University statement. “I have many, many friends here. I look forward to returning and to welcoming people to visit me in Cambridge.”

The Provost seat has sometimes been viewed throughout University history as a path toward the presidency. Eisgruber himself — as well as past University President William G. Bowen ’55, who served in Nassau Hall from 1972 to 1988 — were both appointed to the position of University President after serving as University Provost.

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Bailey Glenetske is an assistant news editor who often covers breaking news, University affairs and STEM news. She can be reached at bailey.glenetske@princeton.edu or on Instagram @bailey.glenetske.

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