Meg Whitman to support new residential college at Princeton
Posted February 4, 2002; 08:00 a.m.
Meg Whitman, president and chief executive officer of eBay, Inc., a Princeton University trustee and member of the class of 1977, is making a gift of $30 million toward the construction of a new residential college at the University. The new college, to be named Whitman College, will enable Princeton to expand its undergraduate student body and provide more varied educational and social opportunities for students.
The gift from Whitman and her family, including her husband, Dr. Griffith R. Harsh IV, permits the University to proceed with plans announced almost two years ago to build a sixth residential college and expand the student body by 10 percent. That will be the first significant increase in undergraduate enrollment since the advent of co-education in 1969. The gift also allows the University to create a new residential option that will bring together students from all classes, along with some graduate students, in three of its six residential colleges.
"With this gift, Princeton can embark on a project that will expand the range of talents, perspectives and interests represented among our student body, enriching the experience for everyone on campus," said President Shirley M. Tilghman. "The changes set in motion by this gift will allow Princeton to strengthen the educational experience of undergraduates in a number of ways and will permit us to expand and enhance the residential college system, which is at the heart of student life. For their leadership and generosity, we are extremely grateful to Meg Whitman and her family."
"I had a great time as a Princeton undergraduate," said Whitman. "The University inspired me to think in ways that have guided me throughout my life. I'm pleased that I can help bring Princeton to more students and that my gift will benefit the University for generations to come."
Whitman's gift underscores her commitment and service to Princeton. She has served as a trustee since 2000 and is a member of the board's Executive Committee. She has been a generous donor to the University and has supported various teaching and athletics initiatives. As a student, Whitman was a member of the lacrosse and squash teams.
Whitman also has been active in Princeton's Women in Leadership Initiative, an effort launched in 1998 -- on the 25th anniversary of Princeton's first fully coeducational class -- to encourage alumnae to participate as philanthropists and volunteers.
Since February 1998, Whitman has successfully guided the expansion of eBay from a small U.S.-focused Internet trading site to a global marketplace with 42 million registered users and more than $9 billion in gross merchandise sales. Prior to joining eBay, she held senior positions at Hasbro Inc., The Walt Disney Company and Bain & Company.
Whitman earned her bachelor's degree in economics at Princeton and received an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
Whitman College will be constructed south of Dillon Gymnasium on the Princeton campus. It is expected to provide dormitory, dining, social, cultural, educational and recreational space for approximately 500 students from all four undergraduate classes, along with a number of graduate students.
Construction of Whitman College will allow the University to increase the undergraduate student body from about 4,600 to 5,100, with the increase to be phased in over four entering classes, probably beginning with the class of 2010. This enrollment increase, along with recently enacted improvements in Princeton's financial-aid program, will ensure that Princeton remains accessible to a broad range of students from all economic backgrounds.
All freshmen and sophomores live and dine in one of the five existing residential colleges, which have libraries, study spaces, game rooms, seminar rooms, coffeehouses and theaters. Most juniors and seniors, however, live in dormitories and eat in private eating clubs or prepare their own meals. With the new college, this system will be enhanced so that three colleges, including Whitman College, will house students from all four classes and some graduate students, increasing interaction and allowing upper-class students to take fuller advantage of the colleges' social and cultural offerings.
An architect for Whitman College will be chosen within a year. Construction is expected to begin in 2004.
"The opportunities available to students in this new residential college, the interaction that will take place there between students and faculty, and the wide-ranging events and discussions &emdash; all these things invigorate Meg Whitman's vision of a well-rounded educational experience," Tilghman said. "That vision has been paramount in Meg's service and counsel as a trustee, and it shows clearly in this splendid gift."