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Second annual DEI report reveals slew of new programs, minor increase in faculty diversity

The North Lawn entrance of the Frist Campus Center. Pictured are wooden double doors recessed into a decorative concrete entrance.
Frist Campus Center, where the Office of Diversity & Inclusion is located.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

In June 2020, amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, University President Christopher Eisgruber charged the University cabinet with specifying “a set of actions that could be taken within [their] areas to identify, understand, and combat systemic racism within and beyond the University.”

Two and a half years later, the University released its second annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Report, described as part of an ongoing effort to make Princeton “more diverse, inclusive, and accessible.” The report reveals that while the diversity of the undergraduate student body has remained relatively consistent over the past five years, there have been some improvements in the diversity of the University’s faculty. The University also added a number of administrative positions to further DEI goals. 


The report also describes long-term plans to increase transfer numbers, create an affinity space for Native and Indigenous members of the community, expand the Center for Jewish Life (CJL), and invest in supplier diversity. 

The 41-page report summarizes many “events, programs, and initiatives” undertaken by the University and its students, as well as data on the demographics and climates of students, staff, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and academic professionals. 

The Daily Princetonian broke down the four sections of the report: climate, inclusion and equity; the academic experience; access and outreach; and demographic and campus climate data.

In September 2020, the University Cabinet identified a series of priorities related to diversity and inclusion. Issuing the report goes to one of the priorities, increasing accountability and engagement by publishing annual reports. Of the other priorities identified in 2020, campus iconography, professional development relating to DEI, and programs to assist lower-paid staff are addressed in the first section of the report; increasing faculty diversity is addressed in the second section of the report; and increasing diversity in graduate programs and in suppliers are addressed in the third section of the report. The fourth section provides statistics to assess progress towards each priority.

The 40th anniversary of the Asian American Alumni Association (A4P), the 5th anniversary of the AccessAbility Center, and the 50th anniversary of the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, kosher dining on campus, and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) are mentioned in report, an invocation of past efforts to increase diversity and inclusion. 


1. Campus climate

The first section of the report highlighted University-sponsored resources and events aiming to foster a more inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds, including lectures on topics of race, gender, sexuality, and speech at the Fields Center and programs focused on women and LGBTQ+ students by the GSRC. The report noted community affinity events including more than a dozen events celebrating Latinx Heritage Month, such as a “Latine in STEM Dinner.” The report also emphasized the creation of a dedicated affinity space for Native and Indigenous community members in Green Hall in response to advocacy from student group Natives at Princeton.

The University laid out some future events and initiatives including an expansion of the CJL’s dining hall to “better serve” the growing student population. Capacity constraints on the CJL have been a topic of debate in recent weeks, as three students argued that the closure of Butler Dining Hall has led to decreased accessibility for kosher-keeping students at the CJL due to long lines.

The section discussed strides in professional development and co-curricular educational opportunities on diversity, which included 12 employee resource groups supported by Human Resources and the launch of the annual Inclusive Academy (IA) Symposium and Best of Access, Diversity, and Inclusion (BADI) Awards. 

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Campus iconography got a section in the report. The University highlighted changing artwork in University buildings along with renaming Marx Hall as Laura Wooten Hall. The report does not allude to a debate over whether to take down the statue of early University President John Witherspoon on the grounds that he owned slaves.

The report also emphasizes “ensuring equity” amongst faculty and staff, noting the enhancement of the Employee Child Care Assistance Program, Children’s Educational Assistance Plan, Long-Term Disability, and Adoption and Surrogacy Benefit. In 2020, the University wrote that policies and benefits would be assessed “with an eye to enhancing equity for employees in lower-paid positions and others who may have been disproportionally affected by systemic racism or other class-based disadvantages.”

The University has also created a new Human Resources position — manager for faculty and staff accommodations — to support those with disabilities. This year also saw the creation of new assistant dean positions for Muslim Life and Hindu Life, both positions that previously had the title of religious life chaplains. These are among other new positions alluded to across the report including a vice dean for diversity and inclusion, a vice provost for academic affairs, and an associate director for supplier diversity.

2. Diversity in faculty, teaching and research

In the second section of the report, the University highlighted the work of academic departments in increasing diversity.

The University emphasized efforts to increase hiring of diverse candidates by academic departments, citing flexibility in recruitment to enable academic departments to recruit in advance of a vacancy. Diversity of faculty hiring was at the center of an open letter signed by over 350 University faculty members in July 2020.

The section also highlights efforts to increase access to University resources by lowering barriers to entry, noting the Lewis Center for the Arts’s (LCA) decision to replace “high-intensity auditions” with “Try on Theater Days.”

The section closes with a discussion of academic freedom, noting that “inclusivity and respect” can coexist with academic freedom, but emphasizing: “Princeton is committed to free and  open inquiry in all matters and guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write,  listen, challenge and learn.”

This section may allude to a plank in the 2020 faculty letter calling for the University to form a committee to review and discipline racism in faculty behavior and research. The plank received pushback from some faculty members as calling for a violation of academic freedom.

3. Engagement with broader community

The report highlights initiatives that “expanded Princeton’s engagement with local community colleges during the 2021–22 academic year,” including sending 20 graduate students to teach at community colleges nearby. This comes after last year’s report promised to form these connections. 

Two new positions at the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity will focus on the expansion of Princeton’s transfer student body and initiatives for the families of first-generation, low-income students. The University announced that over the next few years, it plans to increase the number of transfer students from 40 to approximately 100. 

The report also noted efforts to make graduate school more accessible to students from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds by increasing stipends: the University announced an average 25 percent increase in graduate fellowship and stipend rates last January. Pay for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers has been a major campus topic of discussion in 2023, with some feeling that the University’s recent pay raises are insufficient. Postdocs marched for a higher minimum salary and an effort to unionize graduate students has developed, with organizers citing pay and housing costs as motivating factors.

There is a focus on diversifying suppliers, which impacts the broader community given that the University plays a significant role in the local economy. Princeton’s supplier diversity action plan, which “aims to support more businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” led to the creation of Princeton’s first Associate Director for Supplier Diversity. At the end of the 2021–22 fiscal year, 12 percent of the University’s total expenditures were with diverse suppliers, representing more than $114 million. Additionally, 26.8 percent of the Princeton endowment is managed by “diverse-owned firms.”

4. Breaking down the statistics

The report concludes with a section featuring data on the diversity of various campus populations, including professors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates. Additionally, “climate data” is included, which is data gathered from surveys “assessing individuals’ experiences on campus.” 

The report details the racial diversity of the undergraduate student body for 2021–22: 56 percent white, 32 percent Asian, 13 percent Black/African American, 12 percent Hispanic/Latino/a, or Mexican American or Puerto Rican, and 2 percent Native American, Native Alaskan, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. 

According to the graph provided in the report, these numbers are roughly in line with the racial diversity of the undergraduate student body in the past few years. It is not yet clear how these numbers may be impacted if the Supreme court rules that race-conscious admissions processes are unlawful as expected. However, University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 has said that the decision will likely lead to a less diverse student body. The racial diversity of master’s students and doctoral students was roughly in line with the undergraduate numbers.

In 2021–22, 2 percent of undergraduate students identified as genderqueer, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, or transgender. This figure was 3 percent for master’s and doctoral students. In 2017–18, that number was 0 percent for undergraduates and master’s students and 1 percent for doctoral students.

The main demographic difference among the three given categories of students — undergraduates, master’s, and doctoral students — is in U.S. citizenship status. One in eight undergraduate students is not a citizen. For doctoral students, that number is more than two in five. Among master’s students, the percentage who are not citizens has decreased to 30 percent from 38 percent in 2017–18.  

In an interview with the ‘Prince’ last semester, Eisgruber said that increasing the diversity of the faculty was a goal. Eisgruber said, “let’s see if we can increase the number of underrepresented minorities by 50 percent over a period of five years.” He continued, “In the 2022 report … the numbers will show significant progress over the last couple of years.” 

According to the report, 26.2 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty identified as non-white or international in fall 2022, up from 23.7 percent in 2021, a 11 percent increase since 2018. There was a smaller impact on non-tenure-track faculty, a substantially more diverse group as a whole, where the number of non-white or international faculty increased from 35.3 to 37.1 percent, a five percent increase over the same period. The lack of faculty diversity was cited in 2020, when it was noted that the percentage of non-white tenured or tenure-track faculty members had increased from 15 percent to 19 percent in 18 years.

The report’s graphs show that, in Fall 2022, 21.4 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty identified as Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, or American Indian/Native American/Native Alaskan. While the report does not give any numerical totals for demographic groups, the Office of Institutional Research has a Diversity Dashboard which states that in 2022, out of 1,064 total tenure or tenure-track faculty, 770 identified as white, 61 identified as Black, 43 identified as Hispanic, 5 identified as Native American, and 139 identified as Asian.

There were slight discrepancies in the data from the Diversity Dashboard compared with the graphs in the DEI report. The reason for these discrepancies was not immediately apparent.

In his interview with the ‘Prince,’ Eisgruber also discussed the economic diversity of the student body in the context of the University’s recently-expanded financial aid plan. Roughly one in five undergraduate students are Pell Grant-eligible, a number that has remained relatively steady for the past five years, a statistic that would not reflect the University’s new financial aid policy, which has not yet gone into effect.

The report also broke down data on campus climate, collected from surveys of students that asked the following questions: “Would you recommend Princeton to someone (same background, ability, interests, and temperament as you) considering your field of study?” and “Would you encourage a high school senior who resembles you when you were a high school senior (same background, ability, interests, and temperament as you) to attend Princeton?” The survey also asked respondents to state whether the following sentence was true or false for them: “I would encourage a prospective colleague or friend who resembles me (in interests, background, etc.) to work or study in the department.” The responses are broken down in the report by gender, sexual orientation, and race.

The main prompt, about whether students would recommend Princeton to high school seniors with similar backgrounds, saw “definitely” as the most common response. White, Asian, and Hispanic/Latino students gave more positive responses, with 75, 77, and 71 percent, respectively, responding “definitely” or “probably.” Black and Native American students, on the other hand, were slightly less likely to recommend Princeton, with their rates of answering “definitely” or “probably” resting at 61 and 65 percent.

On the same prompt, men and women had similar responses, but gender nonconforming students answered “definitely” or “probably” at a significantly lower rate.

Eisgruber framed the report in his opening letter with the following words, “This University is — and will remain — a work in progress. Commitments to diversity, inclusion, and excellence require constant vigilance and unceasing effort.”

With the University expected to continue releasing reports on diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, progress on core goals can be monitored by community members going forward.

Julian Hartmann-Sigall is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Bridget O’Neill is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

 Please direct any correction requests to corrections[at]