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Fun Facts

Founded. 1746, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, moved to Princeton in 1756

Original name. The College of New Jersey; changed in 1896

First president. Jonathan Dickinson, who died after serving only five months

Current president. Shirley M. Tilghman, who became the 19th president in 2001

Official motto. Dei Sub Numine Viget (Under God’s Power She Flourishes)

Informal motto. Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations

Colors. Orange and black; formally adopted in 1896

Mascot. Tiger; emerged around 1882

Insignia. The shield, which derives from the official seal, is designated for more common use. It includes an open Bible with Vet Nov Testamentum, signifying both Old and New Testaments. In its lower part is a chevron, signifying the rafters of a building. The official motto is sometimes displayed on a ribbon under the shield.

Alma mater. “Old Nassau,” since 1859. Modern first verse:
“Tune ev’ry heart and ev’ry voice,
Bid ev’ry care withdraw;
Let all with one accord rejoice,
In praise of Old Nassau.
In praise of Old Nassau, we sing,
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Our hearts will give, while we shall live,
Three cheers for Old Nassau.”

Alumni U.S. presidents. James Madison, Class of 1771; Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879

A sampling of Princeton firsts.

  • The first-recorded use of the now common understanding of the word campus, in 1774, was generally attributed to Princeton’s sixth president John Witherspoon.
  • The Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall, which served as the capitol of the United States for approximately five months in 1783.
  • On November 6, 1869, the first American intercollegiate football game was played between Princeton and Rutgers.
  • The nation’s first cheer took place at Princeton during a football game in the late 1880s, when a group of male students led a crowd in the first recorded, organized chant, which today is Princeton’s legendary “locomotive.”
  • During the first modern Olympic games in 1896, Robert Garrett, Class of 1897, won first place in both the discus and the shot put, second place in the long jump, and third in the high jump.
  • On November 19, 1969, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Class of 1953, became the third person to walk on the moon, and planted a Princeton flag there.

Some things named after Princeton. Mt. Princeton in Colorado, named in 1872; Nassauica Dusenii, a plant first found in Patagonia in 1897; Phrygilus Princetonianus, a type of finch discovered in 1898; Asteroid Princetonia, number 508, discovered in 1903; and Princeton Glacier, in Alaska, named in 1909.