Two esteemed faculty transfer to emeritus status


David Billington ’50 (right) with former student Rowland “Toby” Richards ’57 *64.

David P. Billington, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and James Wei, a professor of chemical engineering and previous dean of the engineering school, became emeriti professors effective Feb. 1, 2010.

Billington joined the Princeton faculty in 1960. His courses combining the study of engineering with an exploration of aesthetic and social values have been some of the most popular among engineering and non-engineering students for decades.

His research at Princeton has focused on the engineering of large structures, often with an emphasis on the intersection of efficiency and beauty in structural design and the transformative influence engineers have had on American society.


Wei, who will become the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor in Engineering Emeritus and professor of chemical engineering emeritus, served as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1991 to 2002.

He has been credited with transforming the role of the dean of Princeton's engineering school, securing resources to grow the engineering school and broadening the vision for engineering in a university best known for its liberal arts programs.

His research focused on chemical kinetics, catalysis, the conversion of raw materials to useful products and fuels, and chemotherapy of cancer. He has served on a number of government panels as an expert on the environmental impact of the chemical industry.