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Videotape 4/6/99, 1999
Collection Description & Creator Information
The Princeton University Office of the Dean of the Faculty Records consists of the files of the dean, the office's staff, as well as the faculty. In addition to the office's subject files, the collection holds the records of the faculty meetings, faculty and University committees, and the personnel files of faculty, senior staff, and trustees.
Series 1 (Faculty Meetings and Minutes) and most of Series 3 (Committees of the Faculty and the University) were actually created by the faculty and its designees (the secretary of the faculty for series 1 and the secretaries or chairs of committees, for series 3), not by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. The dean's office does, however, lend office support to the faculty and maintains these records before they are transferred to the University Archives.
The remaining series (with the exception of Series 9, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty's archived website) consist of files were created by the dean's office for its own use. These series are particularly appropriate for research into the benefits and regulations concerning the faculty and professional staffs, faculty and department schedules and statistics, details about individual trustees and faculty and staff members, special academic programs and circumstances (such as teaching during wartime), cooperation between academic departments and with other universities, and the role of the dean of the faculty in the administration of the University.
Please see series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.
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.
Most deans of the faculty were 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, 2003-2014
Deborah Prentice, psychology and public affairs, 2014-2017
Sanjeev R. Kulkarni, electrical engineering, 2017-2021
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No information on appraisal is available.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Series 8 is open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.
- Special Requirements for Access:
This collection contains records created and used on computing devices. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.
- Credit this material:
Videotape 4/6/99; Office of Dean of the Faculty Records, AC118, Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript LibrarySeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Princeton University
Brown, J. Douglas (James Douglas), 1898-1986
Eisenhart, Luther Pfahler, 1876-1965 -- Correspondence.
Fine, Henry B. (Henry Burchard), 1858-1928
Gunning, Robert C. (Robert Clifford), 1931-
Lemonick, Aaron, 1923-
Lester, Richard Allen, 1908-1997
Magie, William Francis, 1858-1943
Murray, James O. (James Ormsbee), 1827-1899
Palmer, R.R. (Robert Roswell), 1909-2002
Root, Robert K. (Robert Kilburn), 1877-1950
Winans, Samuel Ross, 1855-1910