Saturday, December 29, 2007

Princeton – seat of learning

Non-sectarian Princeton University in New Jersey is a revered seat of learning, part of the elite Ivy League conglomeration of eight colleges, and has a long and rich history. Founded in the town of Elizabeth in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, this premier educational establishment was relocated to Princeton ten years after its formation, but didn’t change its name to reflect its new location until some 150 years later.

The original university’s building - the Nassau Hall - forms the centre point of today’s campus. It has been added to and changed function many times over the years, but still retains its original façade. During the college’s 150 year anniversary in 1896, Princeton adopted the title of Woodrow Wilson’s keynote speech: “Princeton in the nation’s service” as its informal motto. Wilson was then a faculty member, but six years later became the University’s 13th President and immediately set about enlarging and improving the college. Plans for a graduate school were finalized during his term of office and Wilson also doubled the size of the faculty. His vision and plans formed the basis of the university’s expansion and development for the remainder of the 20th Century. Indeed, during 1996-97 Princeton celebrated its 250th birthday, expanding its motto to include: “and in the service of all nations” reflecting the worldwide distribution of its alumni.

From its humble beginnings based around Nassau Hall, Princeton has now expanded to a 600 acre campus incorporating over 160 buildings and boasting 1,200 faculty members. There are over six million books residing on over seventy miles of shelving in the prestigious Princeton ‘Firestone’ library, and although the university traditionally focused on undergraduate education it has latterly turned to also providing Masters Degrees and PHDs as it increases its graduate education prospectus.

The college became Co-ed in 1969 when women were first admitted to this prestigious seat of learning, and today there are close to 4,750 undergraduates and 2,300 graduate students studying at Princeton. Most of the undergraduates and close to two-thirds of the graduate students live on campus. The university encourages parents to become actively involved with their children’s progress at the school starting with Freshman enrolment where parents are invited to join their sons and daughters at Freshman Parents Weekend. It is normally held in the first weekend of October when, as you can imagine, it’s virtually impossible to get a room at a hotel in Princeton.

Although in university terms it is a relatively small institution, Princeton is one of the nation’s leading research educational establishments and continues to maintain its reputation for excellence and quality; one that has endured over its 260 year history.

About the Author: Adam Singleton is an online freelance journalist from Scotland. His hobbies include travelling and hiking.


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