Calhoun appointed Princeton's vice president for campus life

W. Rochelle Calhoun

W. Rochelle Calhoun 

Photo by Gary Gold

W. Rochelle Calhoun, who since 2008 has been dean of students and vice president for student affairs at Skidmore College, will become vice president for campus life at Princeton University effective Sept. 1.

Calhoun will succeed Cynthia Cherrey, who will become president and chief executive officer of the International Leadership Association (ILA) in September.

"I am thrilled that Rochelle Calhoun will be Princeton's next vice president for campus life," said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber. "She is a gifted administrator who cares passionately about students, and she brings to her position a deep appreciation for the values of liberal learning and national leadership experience on issues related to diversity and inclusion."

The vice president for campus life collaborates closely with the dean of the college and the dean of the Graduate School, and advises the president on campus life issues. Calhoun will report to Executive Vice President Treby Williams, who led a 12-member search committee of students, faculty and administrators.

"Rochelle will be an extraordinary vice president for campus life," Williams said. "Throughout her career, she has inspired students and promoted their successful integration of academic and co-curricular endeavors. As a seasoned administrator, Rochelle's broad management experience has been characterized by deep connections with students, creative leadership of student life initiatives, and a strong commitment to building more diverse and inclusive campus communities."   

At Princeton, Calhoun will oversee a staff of more than 300 people in six campus units: Athletics and Campus Recreation, Career Services, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of Religious Life, Pace Center for Civic Engagement, and University Health Services

"I am thrilled and honored to be joining Princeton University as the next vice president for campus life," Calhoun said. "My visits to campus reaffirmed what I have known and admired about Princeton — the deep commitment to access and inclusivity; academic excellence; exceptional residential experience; and a history of service. What I have come to know and appreciate is that this is a university made up of wonderfully talented, committed and welcoming faculty, staff and students with whom I look forward to working to continue to build on Princeton's amazing legacy."

Jill Dolan, dean of the college and a member of the search committee, said Calhoun's appointment will allow the University "to further integrate the curricular and co-curricular experience for Princeton students. My colleagues in the Office of the Dean of the College and I look forward to working with Rochelle, who will be a terrific partner in deepening and broadening all sorts of campus conversations."

"Rochelle Calhoun is an astute and passionate educator, and I'm thrilled that she will be vice president for campus life," said Professor of English Jeff Nunokawa, a member of the committee and master of Rockefeller College. "She knows students and she cares about them and she's proven that she knows how to bring out the best in them. Like the rest of the committee, I was very impressed by her deep knowledge of the history of student community and social commitment and by her sense of how knowing that history will help students now. Rochelle will do great things at Princeton."

Senior Ella Cheng, a committee member and president of the Undergraduate Student Government, said she was thrilled to learn of Calhoun's appointment and "excited to see the new perspectives and initiatives she will bring to campus, especially around diversity and inclusion."

"Ms. Calhoun not only has the experience and thoughtfulness to take on the various challenges of the VPCL office, especially in light of recent conversations around diversity and inclusion at Princeton, but also an extraordinary empathy to connect with the student experience and students in person," Cheng said. "Throughout the search process, student concerns and needs, both undergraduate and graduate, were the focus, and Ms. Calhoun emerged as the candidate with the experience and empathy to tackle those challenges."

Cameron Moore, a graduate student in East Asian studies who was on the committee, said from their first meeting he was "impressed by the depth of Rochelle's professional experience in the realm of student life, as well as by her ability to engage with students with both empathy and practicality. She has demonstrated an exceptional ability to address the many different types of campus life-related issues that arise at universities like ours, and I have no doubt she will be an invaluable asset to Princeton in the years to come."

At the Skidmore campus in Saratoga Springs, New York, Calhoun is a member of the president's cabinet and chairs several college committees. She oversees all student services including athletics, residential life, leadership activities, religious and spiritual life, volunteer services, student diversity programs, career services, student academic services, and health and counseling centers.

Before moving to Skidmore, Calhoun was executive director of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association. She previously held a series of student affairs positions there, including 18 months as acting dean of the college in 2002-2003 and two and a half years as associate dean of the college from 1999 to 2002.

She began her career in college administration at Mount Holyoke in 1986 as an assistant dean of students responsible for working with students of color and cultural organizations. In subsequent student affairs positions, and as ombudsperson and director of diversity and inclusion, she continued this work with a broader institutional focus.

She has been involved in numerous community organizations over the years including serving as a conversation facilitator and steering committee member for the Saratoga Springs Community-Wide Conversation on Diversity, and currently is a board member and mentor for the Sponsor-A-Scholar Program in Saratoga Springs.

Calhoun received a bachelor's degree in theater arts and politics from Mount Holyoke and a master of fine arts degree in theater from Columbia University.