Kites fly in the chapel during Opening Exercises 2021

Princeton provides annual update on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

As part of the University-wide effort to combat systemic racism, Princeton has published its first annual report highlighting diversity, equity and inclusion work across campus. The report provides a snapshot of projects, programs and initiatives during the 2020-21 academic year, and also includes demographic and climate data about students, staff, faculty and postdoctoral scholars. 

“The excellence of this University depends on attracting, supporting and embracing talented people from all backgrounds and with a variety of perspectives and viewpoints,” President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in his introduction to the report.

In summer 2020, Eisgruber charged the University Cabinet — senior academic and administrative leaders — with developing action plans and programs to address systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.

“I challenged my colleagues to consider all aspects of our institution — from our academic enterprise to daily operations — and to develop concrete strategies for promoting racial equity on campus and, in partnership with others, beyond our gates,” Eisgruber said. “Since then, students, faculty, staff and alumni have come together to grapple with difficult questions about the path forward as well as identify renewed ways to fight racism and other forms of hate.”

The 2020-21 annual report focuses on racial equity efforts and is organized around the following three themes that were prominent last academic year: climate, inclusion and equity; the academic experience; and access and outreach.

Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, said the University has redoubled its efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion over the past decade. Publishing an annual report is one way the University will hold itself accountable and evaluate its progress.

“Recognizing that holistic change does not happen through a few high-profile gestures, every administrative and academic leader is being held accountable for demographic evolution, inclusive climate and other systemic changes within their sphere of influence,” Minter said in her introduction to the report. “The University-wide commitments announced in September 2020 are only a small subset of the dozens of individual actions that administrative units and academic departments have pledged to make in support of racial equity.”

Minter added that the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion work has been a community-wide process, drawing on the input of hundreds of students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, staff and alumni.

Future reports will provide similar annual updates, with the understanding that moving toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion requires sustained, multigenerational commitment.

“Our investments in racial equity are a theme of the [2020-21] report, but the report also provides highlights of other new and ongoing campus initiatives,” Eisgruber said. “These activities represent a step forward, not an end. Our continuing commitment to being an excellent and diverse institution in which every member thrives will require sustained effort. We will hold ourselves accountable over time and report … both our successes as well as our challenges.”

To read the full report online or download the PDF, please visit the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity site. Updates about ongoing efforts to combat systemic racism are also available on the Racial Equity website. A few highlights from the 2020-21 report’s three topic areas are below; please read the report for the full scope of diversity, equity and inclusion updates. 

Academic experience examples:

  • A new general education distribution requirement in the area of culture and difference was established for undergraduates.
  • The Office of the Dean for Research launched new initiatives to expand leadership and participation of groups historically underrepresented in research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The office’s September 2021 Empower conference focused on celebrating Black entrepreneurs from throughout academia.
  • A new endowed professorship of Indigenous studies was established, and a search for the position is underway.
  • The Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity was reconceived.
  • The University reaffirmed its aspirations to increase the number of underrepresented tenured and tenure-track faculty members by 50% within five years.
  • The third cohort of  Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows was welcomed to Princeton. The program recognizes and supports scholars who can contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including members of groups who have been historically or are presently underrepresented in the academy or particular disciplines.

Climate, inclusion and equity examples:

  • The School of Public and International Affairs removed Woodrow Wilson from its name.
  • The trustee Committee on Principles to Govern Renaming and Changes to Campus Iconography recommended overarching principles for naming, renaming and changing campus iconography.
  • Juneteenth was established as an official University holiday and employees were given free copies of the book “On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed.
  • The Graduate School launched a new Inclusive Leadership Learning Cohort.

Access and outreach examples:

  • Provost Deborah Prentice is overseeing of a significant extension of Princeton’s community education efforts, with one initiative focused on enhancing existing programs such as the Prison Teaching Initiative and a second initiative exploring the development of a new, degree-granting program for adult learners.
  • The Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity was established in April 2021 to enhance and expand the University’s long-standing commitment to college access and success for talented first-generation and lower-income students (FLI) at Princeton or other universities.
  • The Office of Finance and Treasury adopted a multi-year supplier diversity action plan in March 2021.
  • The Pace Center for Civic Engagement established the Princeton RISE (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality) grant program for students to spend the summer working with a campus or community partner on a project that explores and advocates for racial justice.