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What to expect as the search for the next Dean of the College begins

Photo of a building with a clock tower shrouded in ivy, flanked with trees, at dusk.
Nassau Hall at dusk.
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

After it was announced Sept. 7 that Dean of the College Jill Dolan will step down at the end of the 2023–24 school year, many are left wondering what the selection process for the position looks like. 

A search committee for Dolan’s successor will be led by University Provost, Jennifer Rexford ’91, who was appointed Provost last fall. The University press release shared that the committee’s goal is “for the position to be filled by next summer.” 


The University Provost is historically tasked with finding a replacement for an outgoing Dean of the College. In the past, the search committees have included both faculty and student members. 

In past selection processes, student representatives have been the Undergraduate Student Government academics chair and a U-Councilor. Currently, Srista Tripathi '25 serves as Academics Chair and Aishwarya Swamidurai '26 serves as U-Council Chair.

The last time a search committee for the Dean of the College was formed was in 2015 when Valerie Smith stepped down from the position after less than five years. In that case Smith announced her intention to step down on Feb. 21, 2015 and Dolan’s appointment was announced four months later on June 2nd. This selection timeline was identical to when Dolan’s predecessor, Smith, was chosen to replace Nancy Malkiel, who stepped down in 2010.

During the 2015 search, the former Provost Deborah Prentice shared that the candidates would be limited to internal candidates. 

At the time that Dolan assumed the position of Dean of the College, she was an English professor and the director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also served as a theater professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts, a member of the Priorities Committee, a member of the search committee to find the next Vice President for Campus Life and a board member of the Center for Jewish Life since joining the faculty in 2008.  

Historically, even in cases where outside candidates are considered, the candidate has to first be appointed as a member of the faculty.


The search committee is expected to present a shortlist of candidates to President Christopher L. Eisgruber before the end of the year. In the past, the University president interviews those candidates before making the final decision. 

During the last selection process, a town hall was held to gather student and faculty opinions in the search process. At that town hall, only one student was present. 

New Dean appointments, if appointed during the academic year, retain their faculty positions until the end of the year, with the new role beginning on July 1 of the ensuing summer. 

New Deans also typically announce their priorities early on in their tenure and they often reflect those expressed by the University president. 

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For instance, Dolan shared that her focus coming in was “thinking about online teaching methods as accessible means of education, expanding international projects like the Bridge Year Program, study abroad options and questions of diversity, belonging, inclusion and access at the University.”

This reflected Eisgruber’s own priorities coming into his role in 2013, as his early aims were to develop Princeton’s online curriculum and increase its international presence. 

Sandeep Mangat is a head News editor for the ‘Prince.’

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