Arial view of the Princeton campus

Strategic Framework Key Questions


The President and Trustees of Princeton University identified four key questions, and a set of more specific subsidiary questions, about Princeton's future. The questions do not cover — and are not intended to cover — all the issues and subjects that are important to the University or that require planning of various kinds. The list instead focuses on opportunities, challenges, and trends that seem likely to require attention if Princeton is to sustain and enhance its capacity to make a meaningful difference in the world through education, research, and scholarship of unsurpassed quality. Additional departmental and operational planning exercises occur regularly at Princeton, and such planning will continue. The strategic framework that was approved by the board in January 2016 is intended to serve as a flexible and revisable guide for decision-making, therefore the President and the Trustees hope and expect that additional strategic topics will be explored subsequent to its publication.

Key Questions

  1. How best can Princeton sustain teaching and research excellence that makes a difference in the world?
  2. What new academic initiatives should Princeton pursue to address long-term issues of fundamental importance?
  3. What must we do to make service central to the mission of the University?
  4. How can Princeton enable more undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to the world?

Subsidiary Questions

The subsidiary questions are listed below under four major headings: University-wide teaching and research; specific areas of teaching and research; campus life; and the University's stewardship of resources and its connections with communities beyond the campus. These headings are not intended to constrain the scope of the questions, some of which may overlap categories.

Questions about University-wide teaching and research

  • How can Princeton most effectively support research and innovation across all divisions of the University?
  • What are the goals of Princeton's graduate program, and how, in light of those goals, should the University determine the size of its program and the support that it provides to its graduate students?
  • To what extent and how should the University reform its undergraduate curriculum to provide the best possible education to today's students?
  • What goals should the University have for its online initiatives and offerings, and how should it pursue those goals?
  • Should Princeton expand its undergraduate student body and, if so, with what objectives and when?
  • What principles should guide Princeton's admissions policies, and are there any policies — including policies related to outreach to lower-income student and other underrepresented groups, transfer admissions, or international exchanges — that should be adjusted in order to pursue those principles more effectively?

Questions about specific areas of teaching and research

  • How can Princeton capitalize on both traditional strengths and new opportunities to fortify its world-class scholarship and teaching in the humanities?
  • How can the University recognize and build upon the essential importance of engineering and computer science to a 21st-century liberal arts university?
  • How can Princeton respond to critical needs in the natural sciences and pursue emerging opportunities in fields such as environmental science and sustainability? 
  • How can Princeton meet the demand for knowledge about societies, cultures, economies and political systems throughout the world?
  • How can Princeton capitalize on, and contribute to, developments in statistics, machine learning and the analysis of large data sets?
  • How best can the Woodrow Wilson School enhance its leadership role with regard to teaching and research about public and international affairs?

Questions about campus life

  • What are the goals of Princeton's campus life programs?
  • How best can we enable residential colleges to meet our goals for residential life, including by providing students with social and intellectual community, engagement, support, advising and mentorship?
  • How best can Princeton cultivate an ethic of civic engagement among its students, both during their time here and after they graduate?
  • How can we do a better job of helping students translate their educations into meaningful lives and careers connected to a larger purpose?

Questions about how the University stewards its resources and connects with its communities beyond the campus

  • What principles should guide Princeton's engagement with its alumni, parents, friends, neighbors and other communities that are important to the University?
  • How should the University steward and renew the physical facilities that are critical to the quality of its teaching and research mission?
  • What assumptions, principles and models should the University use to manage its financial resources effectively and efficiently over the long term?
  • How can the University play a national and international leadership role in higher education?