fall colors on campus

Princeton receives national award for outstanding commitments to diversity and inclusion

Oct. 15, 2019 1:41 p.m.

Princeton University has received national honors for its outstanding commitments to diversity and inclusion. The 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award is given annually to U.S. colleges and universities by the magazine “INSIGHT Into Diversity.” 

The HEED Award recognizes a school’s comprehensive approach to recruiting, retaining and supporting a diverse range of students, faculty and staff. The award honors colleges and universities that support diversity in many forms, including gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of “INSIGHT Into Diversity.”

“We’re extremely proud to again receive this award in recognition of the many ways in which we’ve made Princeton a truly more diverse, accessible and inclusive institution,” said Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity. “This special recognition is a tribute to the leadership and commitment of individuals across this campus, including Admission, Campus Life, Dean of the Faculty, Human Resources, the Graduate School and beyond.  We look forward to continuing to build on this progress.”

In particular, the HEED Award recognized the following initiatives, programs and changes on Princeton’s campus.

Students sitting around tables outside

New Princeton graduate students get to know each other during lunch at the Graduate Scholars Program retreat. The retreat was one of many welcome events during Graduate Student Orientation this week. Among all new graduate students from the United States, 43% are minorities and 28% identify as low-income or first-generation college students.

Princeton’s efforts to recruit historically underrepresented and first-generation college students. In the undergraduate Class of 2023, 49.5% are American students of color, 24% are eligible for federal Pell Grants for low-income students and 16% are first-generation college students. Among U.S. graduate students who started at Princeton this fall, 43% are minorities and 28% identify as low-income or first-generation college students.

Princeton has one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country. The University's robust financial aid packages for undergraduates are built on grants, which do not have to be repaid. Princeton’s financial aid program does not require borrowing, so students can graduate debt free and 82% of recent seniors graduated with no debt.

Last year, Princeton reinstated its transfer program for undergraduate admission. The transfer program is specifically aimed at well-prepared students who are U.S. military veterans, from low-income backgrounds and community college students.

Princeton has extensive programs to support college access for high school students from across the country, including the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP) and the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. The University also hosts multiple nonprofit college access partners, including Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA), Matriculate, the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute, and the Warrior Scholar Program. Princeton is a member of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), which focuses on improving the percentage of low-income students at selective colleges and universities, and Princeton's President Christopher L. Eisgruber is a member of the ATI steering committee. 

On campus, programs such as the Freshman Scholars Institute, Scholars Institute Fellows Program and Princeton University Mentoring Program provide first-generation and low-income students with the mentorship and community to help them thrive and succeed at Princeton. Campus centers, including the Carl A. Fields Center, LGBT Center and Women*s Center, focus on many aspects of student identity and culture. 

The Graduate School coordinates a number of programs to recruit and support graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds, including the Prospective Ph.D. Preview (P3), Graduate Scholars Program, Summer Undergraduate Research Programs for undergraduates from other universities considering pursuing a graduate degree and a pre-doctoral fellowship initiative. 

President's Achievement Award recipients stand with President Eisgruber

President Christopher L. Eisgruber, center, joins staff members who received this year’s President’s Achievement Award, from left: Marna Seltzer, Theodore Lewis Jr., Gale Sandor, Angela Francis and Nancy Burns. The awardees were honored at the annual Service Recognition Luncheon on March 16.

Princeton also works to hire staff from a broad range of backgrounds. In the past year, the Office of Human Resources launched a new recruiting campaign, website and talent network focused on community and inclusion. Human Resources sponsors 11 Employee Resource Groups to provide opportunities for employees with shared backgrounds and interests to build communities across campus. 

Faculty diversity is also a key initiative at Princeton. The Office of the Dean of the Faculty oversees many programs designed to increase the diversity of the faculty. All academic departments have developed a comprehensive diversity plan, with five- and 10-year outlooks. The plans included a consideration of the opportunities and hiring directions the department will have, and how they plan to increase diversity within the departments.

The University is also focused on diversifying the pipeline of postdoctoral fellows who will become faculty at leading higher education institutions. The Office of the Dean of the Faculty oversees the Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows Program, which is meant to encourage early-career scholars to pursue a career in academia by supporting their postdoctoral work at Princeton. The first cohort of 12 Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows arrived on campus in July 2019.