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Woodrow Wilson at Princeton

Woodrow Wilson's association with Princeton began when he arrived as an undergraduate in the Class of 1879. During his college years, Wilson was secretary of the Football Association, speaker of the American Whig Society (now the Whig-Cliosophic Society), and managing editor of the Daily Princetonian. In 1890, Wilson returned to Princeton as a professor and in 1896 he pioneered the theme "Princeton in the Nation's Service" in a speech at the University's sesquicentennial celebration.

Renowned as a warm, high-minded scholar, Wilson was elected Princeton's 13th president in 1902. As president, he initiated the broad distribution requirements and raised the University's admission standards. In 1905, Wilson introduced the preceptorial system to foster a personal and intimate relationship between teacher and student. In terms of social and residential life, Wilson promoted a "Quad Plan," inspiring the residential colleges we have today.

Wilson resigned the Princeton presidency to begin his political career in 1910, running for and winning the governorship of New Jersey, where he quickly established himself as the nation’s leading progressive politician. He was elected President of the United States in 1912 and re-elected in 1916. For his efforts at Versailles including his League of Nations proposal, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the only Princetonian to receive this honor.

(Adapted from A Princeton Companion and The Presidents of Princeton.)