Biography and History

Princeton University's dean of the faculty is the senior administrator responsible for the quality and well-being of the faculty and professional staffs of the university.

Joseph Brown was a member of the Art and Archaeology Department. He departed the University in June 1977.

Hadley Cantril was a member of the Psychology Department and the Woodrow Wilson School. He departed the University in June 1968.

Arnold Guyot was a member of the Geology and Geosciences Department Department. He departed the University in February 1884.

Source: From the finding aid for AC107

Biography and History

The dean of the faculty is Princeton University's oldest deanship, established in 1883 to relieve elderly President James McCosh of some of the administration's more taxing but less high-profile responsibilities. These responsibilities were defined by the trustees as "whatever does not pertain directly to the work of instruction, such in particular as the discipline of the College, the assignment of rooms and the sanitary condition of the Institution." When these duties were passed to the newly-established dean of the college in 1909, the dean of the faculty became responsible for matters relating to faculty and curriculum.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the dean of the college took on more responsibility for the oversight of undergraduate academic life, while the dean of the faculty became increasingly focused on the well-being of the faculty and the quality of instruction. In the early 1940s, Dean of the Faculty Robert K. Root's primary concerns were maintaining sound academic requirements for undergraduates, facilitating a quick course of study (so that students could graduate early and enlist), coordinating faculty leave for assisting the war effort and for other reasons, the effect of the war on student scholastic achievement, and student enrollment and attendance.

By the mid-1950s, however, the issues of central concern to Dean of the Faculty J. Douglas Brown were faculty and department-related. In 1956, he described the progress his office had made in his first ten years on the job in the following areas: faculty recruitment efforts, advancement procedures, the ongoing effort to appoint more assistant professors instead of instructors, salary rates, retirement and insurance plans, housing and other fringe benefits, the establishment of preceptorships and fellowships, and research administration. He was also proud of his work to expand or improve individual academic departments and schools. The initiative for these changes typically originated with the faculty, however, and was then supported by the dean and the University administration. The dean continued to work on curricular issues, but since the Second World War, the concerns of the dean of the faculty clearly shifted from the undergraduate academic experience to instructional oversight and faculty development. Until the creation of the position of provost in 1966, the dean of the faculty was also responsible for taking on the duties of the president in his absence.

By the mid-1990s, Dean of the Faculty Amy Gutmann was concerned with both the faculty and the professional research, technical, and library staffs of the University. Gutmann's office worked on issues related to faculty recruitment (especially of women and underrepresented minorities), rules changes, teaching initiatives, retirement, reviews of academic departments, internet use, and faculty honors. Issues related to the professional staffs included general personnel administration, appointments and advancements, salaries, and immigration. In her annual report of 1995-1996, Gutmann makes no mention of undergraduate academic life or the curriculum-subjects of crucial importance to her predecessors of the first half of the twentieth century.

Princeton's faculty, the creator of series 1 and most of series 3, has long been responsible for the determination of major University policies. With the president presiding, the faculty oversees functions as diverse as admissions, curriculum, instruction, research, discipline, examinations, standing, and extracurricular life, and advises the president on faculty appointments and advancements. According to Dean of the Faculty J. Douglas Brown, "The educational policies of the University have long been the product of thorough study and lively debate by a faculty which through these orderly procedures assumes an unusual degree of concern and responsibility. The president and deans exercise their influence upon these policies far more through their leadership in the faculty and its committees than through any assumption of ex officio authority." Unlike most other research universities, Princeton's professors have remained one faculty over the years (except for a few years at the turn of the twentieth century), instead of dividing into schools or colleges with different policies and priorities. The Princeton faculty has proven to be cohesive, active in University governance, and influential.

Every dean of the faculty was appointed after serving a number of years on the Princeton faculty, usually with significant experience as a department or committee chair. Deans of the faculty are chosen in part because they have earned the trust, respect, and admiration of both their faculty colleagues and University administrators. Deans of the faculty remain faculty members and sometimes continue to teach classes during their tenures as dean.

Deans of the Faculty, Department, Tenure as Dean

James Ormsbee Murray, English, 1883-1899

Samuel Ross Winans, Greek, 1899-1903

Henry Burchard Fine, mathematics, 1903-1912

William Francis Magie, physics, 1912-1925

Luther Pfahler Eisenhart, mathematics, 1925-1933

Robert Kilburn Root, English, 1933-1946

James Douglas Brown, economics, 1946-1967

Robert Roswell Palmer, history, 1967-1968

Richard Allen Lester, economics, 1968-1973

Aaron Lemonick, physics, 1973-1989

Robert C. Gunning, mathematics, 1989-1995

Amy Gutmann, politics, 1995-1997

Joseph H. Taylor, physics, 1997-2003

David P. Dobkin, computer science, 2003-

Source: From the finding aid for AC118

  • Faculty and Professional Staff files. 1764-2014 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC107

    Princeton University's dean of the faculty is the senior administrator responsible for the quality and well-being of the faculty and professional staffs of the university. The collection consists of personnel files for nearly every individual at one time employed as a member of Princeton University's faculty or professional staff.

  • Office of Dean of the Faculty Records. 1781-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC118

    Princeton University's dean of the faculty is the senior administrator responsible for the quality and well-being of the faculty and professional staffs of the university. In the past, the office has been responsible for matters ranging from student discipline to undergraduate academic life and the curriculum. This record group consists of the files of the faculty, the dean, the office, and its staff. In addition to the office's subject files, the collection includes the records of faculty meetings, faculty and University committees, and the personnel files of faculty, senior staff, and trustees.

  • J. Douglas Brown Papers. 1910-1978 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC155

    J. Douglas Brown (1898-1986) was an economist and Princeton University administrator who was an expert in the field of industrial relations, especially on the subjects of Social Security and personnel and manpower issues. He was one of the leaders in the development of the Social Security program and also served in the War Department during World War II on manpower issues. Brown's papers document his career as a government consultant, as a scholar, and as a university administrator and include his correspondence and writings, reports, meeting minutes, notes, and publications.