History of Rockefeller College
Founding of the College
John D. Rockefeller 3rd College was created in September 1982, one of five residential colleges established in the 1980s, following the recommendation of the Committee on Undergraduate Residential Life. Trustee Laurance S. Rockefeller '32 gave $5 million in April 1980, later augmented by $1.5 million more from the Rockefeller family, to redevelop the northwest corner of the campus, including part of the former Commons, in commemoration of his brother John D. Rockefeller 3rd '29.
The buildings of Rockefeller College include some of Princeton’s most beautiful landmarks. The dormitories are Holder Hall (completed in 1910), Witherspoon Hall (completed in 1877), a portion of Blair Hall (completed in 1897), and a portion of Campbell Hall (completed in 1909). The central dining and social facilities of Rockefeller College are located in the group of buildings formerly known as Commons. This complex, designed by Day and Klauder and erected in 1916, has been called “the best example of the Collegiate Gothic style in the country.” The entire structure was completely renovated in 2007 and remodeled to connect up the dining halls of Rockefeller and Mathey Colleges through a common servery, as well as to accommodate the new programs being established at the colleges.
About the Residential College System
The basic intent of a residential college system is that undergraduates live in scholarly communities in close contact with their teachers, especially through the use of shared dining facilities. At Princeton, for twenty five years, the distinctive characteristic of this system had been its focus on social and academic activities for freshmen and sophomores. In Fall 2007, a new residential college system was put into place that created more opportunities than ever for interaction between freshmen and sophomores and juniors and seniors, as well as between undergraduate and graduate students. By linking all juniors and seniors to their residential colleges, by providing meals at the colleges for all students, by adding resources for student planning, and by creating new spaces and programs, the residential colleges aim to give all undergraduates the fullest possible access to educational and social opportunities at Princeton.
In order to guide the social and academic activities at the residential colleges, each college is supervised by a senior faculty member, the Master, assisted by a full time staff consisting of a dean, a director of studies, a director of student life, a college administrator, and a college secretary.
The dean and director of studies coordinate the faculty academic adviser program and serve as counselor-advisers to all students resident in the college, as well as to upperclassman affiliated with the college. In addition, the director of studies coordinates the academic programming in the college throughout the year. The director of student life supervises and works with the fifteen residential college advisers (juniors and seniors resident in the college), each of whom is assigned to a "zee-group" (advisee group) of first-year students and sophomores. The director of student life is also responsible for counseling students with personal issues and coordinating their access to health services. The college administrator oversees the budget of the college as well as the management of all college facilities.
Faculty fellows, roughly eighty faculty members associated with the college, are encouraged to participate in all aspects of college life. There is also a group of ten resident graduate students who live in the college and participate in programming activities with undergraduates in informal settings. Finally, the college has a resident faculty fellow who lives and eats in college and is an active member of the community.
About John D. Rockefeller 3rd
John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Class of ’29, was one of America’s leading philanthropists. Among his many fields of interest were the advancement of scientific understanding of overpopulation, the improvement of cultural relations between Asia and America, and a broader exposure for the performing arts in American life.
In 1952, Mr. Rockefeller began his lifelong search for solutions to population growth by founding the Population Council. In 1956, he established The Asia Society, which helped broaden America’s understanding of Asia’s heritage and contemporary developments. He was also a founder of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and served as its first president, beginning in 1956, and then as chairman from 1961 until 1970. For more than thirty years, Mr. Rockefeller was a trustee of Princeton, and he was a trustee emeritus at the time of his death in 1978. He set up the Rockefeller Public Service Awards in 1952, administered as a national trust by Princeton University, to recognize individual public service at the local, state, and national levels, often in areas that were neglected or controversial.
In dedicating the college on October 16, 1983, President William G. Bowen noted that “Rockefeller College will serve as a fitting tribute to a man who cared all of his life about the restoration of historical buildings, the landscaping of open spaces, and most importantly of all, the lives of young people and the enrichment of the human spirit.”