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V. Monitoring & Moving Forward

Students in seminars

We are convinced that it is important, in the months and years ahead, for Princeton to continue to focus on the issues, achievements, and concerns that we have identified. Our final recommendation, therefore, proposes that the University return occasionally to assess where we are in our support of students of both sexes in developing their individual, distinctive gifts.

Although we have given examples of programs we believe to be successful, we have not offered many details to guide the implementation of our recommendations. We are well aware of the creativity and energy of Princeton people and have confidence that students, faculty, and staff can develop, adapt, and carry forward the principles we have set out, and do so in ingenious and productive ways. We have only become acquainted with parts of a large and complex situation; we understand that some of our ideas will prove more useful than others, and that other practices and approaches will be devised to supplement and replace our own.

  • We recommend that a plan be developed by staff and student leaders on campus to monitor our progress, as a university, toward achieving the goals we have set out in this report and addressing some of the problems we have identified. Collecting data and regularly taking stock of where we are can help assure that we do not lose sight of our goals. To provide an opportunity for Princeton to revisit this topic on a comprehensive, University-wide basis, we suggest that as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of coeducation in 2019, a follow-up review be launched to see how far we have come in meeting our goals and offer further recommendations for continuing the work
  • There are a number of ways in which this recommendation could be carried out. On some campuses, a presidential committee has been created in order to monitor progress toward goals of comparable scope and importance. On others, an existing committee or administrative office has been given this responsibility. The point is to ensure that the University does not lose sight of the importance of the topic we have been asked to explore.
  • To provide an opportunity for Princeton to revisit this topic on a comprehensive, University-wide basis, we suggest that as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of co-education in 2019, a follow-up review be launched to see how far we have come in meeting our goals and offer further recommendations for continuing the work.
  • We recommend that further research be undertaken to answer some of the questions we have raised about the experiences of our undergraduate students, especially in academic settings; we also recommend undertaking research that will tell us more about the experiences of Princeton students before they matriculate and after they graduate, so that we can have a fuller understanding of the specific impacts of their lives here on campus.
  • To address more fully the topics we have identified, it would be useful to know more about what happens before and after Princeton, in admissions decisions and alumni/ae choices, to gain a fuller understanding of the student experience. Are there observable differences between students who apply to Princeton and those who apply to other fine colleges and universities, in terms of their aptitude for and attitudes toward leadership?
  • Another example: A number of our respondents have speculated that students who attended a single-sex high school may come to Princeton with somewhat different attitudes and preparations than those who have attended coed schools. We do not intend, of course, to privilege or disadvantage students from either background; but it could be helpful to know whether students from all-girls high schools come to Princeton more self-confident about their leadership skills, and what happens to that self-confidence on this campus. This awareness might help us design leadership training programs, for example.
  • On the "other end," so to speak, it would be very useful to know how, if at all, experiences in leadership at Princeton shape and support choices about postgraduate life. Are students who have been actively engaged in leadership on campus more likely to choose professions or pursue goals where leadership is visibly important? Are they any more likely to be effective leaders over the years than students who have not held leadership posts on campus? Does it make a difference what posts they held, or in what kinds of campus organizations? Obtaining data that would allow us to answer these questions might inform and help direct our efforts, in terms of leadership training and opportunities on campus.
  • Another topic on which further research would be helpful is the impact, if any, of faculty members of the same sex as the student on leadership choices students make, and on their academic achievement. We have come across very few instances that suggest any correlation between student success and the sex of the faculty members whose classes they have taken; but we are aware that there is some evidence more generally that this does make a difference. It is clear that having supportive and engaged faculty members of either sex is an advantage for our students, in terms of their academic accomplishments. But if having more women faculty members would also make a difference for our women students (and their male peers), it would be important to know this.