Update on Princeton’s Four-Year Collegiate Conversion
17 May 2004 (collegiateway.org) — Princeton University was the first university in the United States to propose a collegiate structure, back in the days when Woodrow Wilson was president (president of Princeton that is, before he became president of the United States). Despite being the first to propose the idea, Princeton has struggled for a century now to implement Wilson’s original vision, largely because of an existing system of influential, fraternity-like private clubs. Princeton did create a system of two-year residential colleges in the 1960s, and it is now beginning to accelerate their conversion into four-year colleges. Princeton’s current president, Shirley Tilghman, is outlining the changes that the four-year system will bring, and these were reported in Princeton’s student newspaper last week.
Some of the particularities are specific to Princeton, while other aspects of the conversion, including the objections from student club members, will be familiar to anyone who has studied the origin of residential college systems elsewhere. It is a pleasure to see Princeton moving forward to carry out this grand old vision of one of its great presidents.