Princeton released its third annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) report on Monday, Jan. 29. The report includes new disability-related data and highlights a commitment to a diverse student body and faculty.
The report highlighted the University's own DEI administrators as national scrutiny of DEI programming in higher education has gained traction, including specific attacks on administrators at Princeton. It also comes in the aftermath of last year’s dismantling of race-based affirmative action by the U.S. Supreme Court which has raised concerns about the future of diversity in higher education.
“I’m especially pleased that the report showcases some of my colleagues, who demonstrate the wide range of activities and expertise that diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners bring to our campus community,” Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter wrote in the report.
In his introduction to the report, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 emphasized his belief in diversity as essential to Princeton’s success as an institution, in line with comments previously expressed in his eighth annual State of the University Letter from January. “Princeton University’s excellence depends upon attracting and supporting talented individuals from throughout our society and around the world,” he wrote in the report.
Surrounding issues of diversity, a spotlight has been placed on Eisgruber and the presidents of other peer institutions in particular, after Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned in January. Gay stepped down due to accusations of plagiarism that surfaced in response to her highly-criticized testimony to Congress about campus antisemitism.
In the last year, states and donors have taken aim at DEI programs in higher education. Billionaire donor Bill Ackman, who pushed for Gay’s resignation, wrote a long post criticizing DEI, saying it promotes “an oppressor/oppressed framework” that has fueled “anti-Jewish hate speech and harassment.” Another Harvard megadonor, Ken Griffin, announced that he would stop donations to Harvard, citing similar criticisms of DEI.
Nationally, at least 65 bills that would roll back diversity efforts at colleges have been introduced in more than two dozen states and Congress since the start of 2023, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Princeton’s report evidenced no effect of the backlash. The 25-page report is split into four sections: climate, inclusion and equity; academic experience; access and outreach; and demographic and climate data. The Daily Princetonian broke down the most significant updates in each category.
Climate, inclusion and equity
The first section of the DEI report discussed campus resources, naming and history, and professional development. It included new roles on campus, such as new Associate Directors of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs for Athletics and the School of Public and International Affair (SPIA), a new full-time clinician for Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE), and a new staff position of Manager of Faculty and Staff Accommodations.
The report also highlighted updates to campus resources. Tigers Leading Tigers is a “leadership development program designed to equip students with inclusive leadership skills,” launched by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS) in September 2022. The program is “informed by campus trends and student feedback” and includes topics such as socioeconomic equity and hosting sustainable events. According to the DEI report, around 300 students participated in one of the training sessions in 2022–2023.
Workshops on Jewish identity, inclusion, and antisemitism were hosted by the Center for Jewish Life in partnership with the Hillel International Campus Climate Initiative. According to the report, “approximately 100 students and staff members of all faiths” attended the workshops.
Debates over campus iconography have continued but not progressed. The previous report from 2021–22 did not allude to the debate over the statue of University President John Witherspoon; this year the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) Committee on Naming “continues to evaluate a proposal” to remove or relocate the statue. According to the report, the committee held listening sessions inviting all members of the university community and hosted an academic symposium on different aspects of Witherspoon’s life. No final conclusion was reached so the committee “will continue its work in the 2023–24 academic year.”
The second section of the report focused on the relationships between DEI and academics at Princeton.
In August 2022, Princeton’s Graduate School welcomed “one of the most diverse student cohorts in its history.” 22 percent of the cohort are from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, and 27 percent from first-generation or low-income (FLI) backgrounds.
The Emma Bloomberg Center has also expanded its program for incoming students; the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI) and FSI Online ensured that over 250 FLI students were “able to experience the academic, co-curricular, and social life at Princeton prior to the beginning of the fall semester.
The University’s DEI priorities move beyond racial and socioeconomic makeup of students, to course content. The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning solicited applications from Princeton’s faculty for Inclusive Pedagogy Grants, which “invite faculty to revise an element of a course to more strongly reflect equitable and inclusive teaching practices.” 10 of the grants were then awarded to faculty, lecturers, and fellows.
The report also highlighted the expansion of Princeton’s Novogratz Bridge Year Program from four countries to six — Bridge Year now partners with communities in Cambodia and Costa Rica. The report says that Bridge Year has “provided transformative service-learning experiences to over 370 Princeton undergraduates.”
Access and outreach
The third section of the report discussed accessibility and outreach efforts, including various ongoing partnerships with local schools, organizations, and community colleges.
“Over 125 Princeton staff have earned certifications from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, outpacing any other U.S. university,” the report stated.
It also highlighted the new Transfer Scholars Initiative, a summer program for students at partnering New Jersey community colleges, and the new SPIA in New Jersey program which the report said is “leveraging faculty, students and researchers to produce and promote innovative policy statewide.”
Demographic and climate data
The report broke down demographic data collected annually from students, faculty, and staff.
Notably, this year’s report included new information on disability identification. “More than 1,200 students with disabilities were registered with the Office of Disability Services to receive reasonable accommodations,” the report stated — an increase of about 400 students compared to last year.
The accompanying graph in the report included the following context about disability identification: “A student is considered to be registered with the Office of Disability Services once an accommodation request has been made. Registration is a voluntary, confidential process and may occur at any time during the student’s course of study … Requests for accessible housing accommodations are recorded in the data below from 2021–2022 onward, reflecting a change in internal processes to enhance students’ experience.”
The report measures disability identification in terms of number of students rather than percentage of students — and therefore does not account for student body expansion, which may have contributed to some of the increase.
Figures on gender identity, Pell Grant eligibility, and U.S. citizenship of students generally remained constant from last year. The percentage of undergraduate students identifying as Black rose by 2 percent.
Race and ethnicity of tenured/tenure-track faculty changed very slightly from last year — their makeup is 0.7 percent less white than in 2022–2023.
Faculty and postdoc groups have both historically skewed heavily male (a roughly 35 to 65 percent gender split). Most of these numbers have remained unchanged, although the percentage of female postdocs increased 1.3 percent.
The U.S. citizen to international split has remained steady for undergraduate students, while graduate students are more international this year. Postdocs have also become more international, as have non-tenure track faculty, but percent of international tenured/tenure-track faculty decreased slightly.
The report also draws on a survey meant to assess campus climate by summarizing views among different groups of students.
Similarly to last year, white and Asian students were more likely to report that they would recommend Princeton to students of similar backgrounds. The likelihood of doing so for Black and Native American students rose multiple percentage points compared to last year, but still lags behind other groups, and the likelihood for Hispanic/Latina/o/x remained the same across both years. Nonbinary and queer-identifying events were also much less likely to recommend Princeton to students with their identities.
The report concluded with a note from Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Shawn Maxam, who noted that a committee of the Board of Trustees will be examining Princeton’s admissions policies in the coming year and listed a number of DEI-related goals for the upcoming year.
Such goals include establishing “new professional development resources,” continuing a partnership with PEN America, a free speech nonprofit, continuing work on “understanding and addressing antisemitism, exploring the impact of Islamophobia and fostering inclusion for people of all faith backgrounds and national origins,” and enriching a “commitment to history and sense of place” via several naming and history-related initiatives.
The report is published every year near the beginning of spring semester.
Annie Rupertus is a Head News Editor at the ‘Prince.’
Victoria Davies is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’
Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.
Correction: This article has been updated since publication to more accurately describe the conversation around academic bloat.