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Computer science and history lead faculty hiring, no long-term trend to engineering

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Jean Shin / The Daily Princetonian

Earlier this month, the University announced that the Board of Trustees had approved the hiring of seven new faculty members — including the return of the prominent African American Studies scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. The University has announced new faculty appointments six times over the past year. The Daily Princetonian looked back at faculty appointments over the past years to examine trends across academic disciplines. 

In the past two years, the University hired 52 new professors, with the highest number of professors being hired within the the computer science and history departments. Despite differences between departments, the data does not show a long-term shift to a single area of study.


Four new professors is in line with the growth of the Department of Computer Science in recent years in terms of undergraduate enrollment. The Department of Computer Science awarded just 36 undergraduate degrees in 2011, but 212 members of the Class of 2024 declared Computer Science. There has been growth just over the past few years. Computer science (B.S.E.) has become the most popular major, going from 9.9 percent of the Class of 2020 declaring the major to 11.9 percent for the Class of 2024. Computer science (A.B.) experienced a similar increase, going from 2.6 percent for the Class of 2020 to 4.4 percent of the Class of 2024.

Two out of the four professors hired in computer science are in research areas related to technological implications on humans. Parastoo Abtahi’s research focus is human-computer interaction, and Aleksandra Korolova, formerly of the University of Southern California, focuses on the societal impacts of algorithms and AI. The other two hired professors are Alex Lombardi, who studies the theoretical foundations of cryptography, and Ellen Zhong, whose research areas are computational biology and machine learning.


The Department of History, the other department that hired four professors over the past two years, has actually experienced a decrease in popularity as one of the most declared majors over the past five years. For the Class of 2020, 5.8 percent of the class declared history, while for the Class of 2024, 4.2 percent of the class declared it as their major. 

The four professors hired in the history department focus on a range of different topics. Matthew Jones, formerly of Columbia University, studies the history of science and technology. Yonatan Glazer-Eytan focuses on early modern Spain, exploring the interfaith and interethnic relations on the Iberian peninsula. Elizabeth Ellis specializes in early American and Native American history. Corinna Zeltsman studies modern Latin America, particularly in 19th- and 20th-century Mexico. 

The School of Public and International Affairs also had more departmental hires. SPIA hired three new professors in the past three years, possibly accommodating an increase in size over the past five years. 

Over the past year, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 has expressed his commitment to expanding STEM on campus, saying that the University “cannot be a great liberal arts university in the 21st century without having a great school of engineering.”

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In an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Eisgruber stated that if he had to pick one top priority for the next five years, it would be “rebuilding and fortifying our School of Engineering and Applied Science.”

Despite Eisgruber’s commitment, the University has not shown a pronounced increase in professors hired for the engineering school over the past five years. They have hired 13 professors across the five engineering departments — comparable to hiring rates for the humanities departments. Small disparities could be attributed, in part, to differences in rates at which professors are leaving various departments.

Additionally, a number of the hired professors are coming from other institutions. Seven of them are from public universities, six from international universities, and 14 from private universities.

Isabel Yip is a head News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Annie Rupertus, Julian Hartman-Sigall, and Marc Lessler contributed reporting.

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