Sarah-Jane Leslie

Sarah-Jane Leslie named dean of the Graduate School at Princeton

Sarah-Jane Leslie

Sarah-Jane Leslie, the Class of 1943 Professor of Philosophy and a graduate alumna, has been appointed as the next dean of the Princeton University Graduate School, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Leslie's appointment was recommended by Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber and approved by the Board of Trustees at their Nov. 17 meeting. The previous dean of the Graduate School was Sanjeev Kulkarni, who became dean of the faculty this academic year.

"Sarah-Jane Leslie is a marvelous scholar, a capable and effective administrator, and a dedicated citizen of this University," Eisgruber said. "She cares deeply about graduate education and graduate students, and I am confident that she will be a superb leader for Princeton’s Graduate School."

The Graduate School enrolls about 2,700 students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in 42 department and programs. The dean of the Graduate School reports to Provost Deborah Prentice.

A search committee composed of faculty members and graduate students proposed the selection of Leslie, who earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton in 2007. She started teaching at Princeton in 2006 and was promoted to full professor in 2013 before being named to the endowed professorship in 2014.

Leslie is also vice dean for faculty development. She is the founding director of the Program in Cognitive Science and director of the Program in Linguistics. Along with those two programs, she is an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Psychology, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the University Center for Human Values, and the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy.

Leslie said: "As a graduate alumna, I have a profound sense of the value of a Princeton graduate education, and I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as dean of the Graduate School. I know firsthand just how a Princeton graduate education can transform one’s life, introducing one to the sheer joy of understanding and of creating knowledge. I look forward to working with President Eisgruber, Provost Prentice, the terrific team at the Graduate School, and all our colleagues and students around campus to advance the mission of Princeton’s Graduate School." 

Describing her priorities, Leslie said they "include preserving and enhancing the excellence of graduate education at Princeton, diversifying the graduate student body, and supporting graduate students’ professional development."

Added Leslie: "The Graduate School is nurturing not only the faculty of the future, but also those creative intellects who will go on to make vibrant extra-academic contributions to our public intellectual, cultural and economic flourishing."

Leslie's research and teaching focus on the intersections of philosophy and psychology; stereotyping and bias; academic gender gaps and diversity; language and generalization; empirical philosophy of mind; and cognitive science and development.

She is the author or co-author of some 40 articles, and her books, "Current Controversies in the Philosophy of Science" and "Generics and Generalization," are under contract to be published. Leslie has given numerous public presentations at academic institutions as well as for a broad audience and with the media. 

She has held several positions on University committees, including as chair, focusing on areas such as women's leadership, diversity, appointments and advancements, and placement and professional development.

In the philosophy department, Leslie was the search/equal opportunity officer for two years, and director of graduate student placement for three years. She also served as acting chair of the department in spring 2017.

Leslie has held various formal mentorship roles at Princeton. She is a mentor with the Society of Fellows and is a faculty fellow at Butler College, one of Princeton's six residential colleges. Previously, she was a faculty fellow at Rockefeller College and served as a mentor with the Princeton Women's Mentorship Program and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program. Also, she has served in mentoring roles for graduate women in philosophy.

Among her honors, Leslie received the Stanton Award from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology in 2015. She was a Behrman Faculty Fellow at Princeton and a 250th Anniversary Fellow at Rutgers University, from which she received her undergraduate degree, majoring in philosophy, mathematics and cognitive science.