Princeton Milestones

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes at Princeton for the 2020-21 academic year. The Princeton Profile does not attempt to capture all the alterations to programs and other offerings which continue to evolve given public health guidance and requirements. Please check directly with relevant offices for the latest information.

Presidents of the University

1747. Jonathan Dickinson
1748-57. Aaron Burr Sr.
1758. Jonathan Edwards
1759-61. Samuel Davies
1761-66. Samuel Finley
1768-94. John Witherspoon
1795-1812. Samuel S. Smith, Class of 1769
1812-22. Ashbel Green, Class of 1783
1823-54. James Carnahan, Class of 1800
1854-68. John Maclean Jr., Class of 1816
1868-88. James McCosh
1888-1902. Francis L. Patton
1902-10. Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879
1912-32. John G. Hibben, Class of 1882
1933-57. Harold W. Dodds, M.A., 1914
1957-72. Robert F. Goheen, Class of 1940; Ph.D., 1948
1972-88. William G. Bowen, Ph.D., 1958
1988-2001. Harold T. Shapiro, Ph.D., 1964
2001-13. Shirley M. Tilghman
2013- Christopher L. Eisgruber, Class of 1983


1696. Town of Princeton settled.
1746. College of New Jersey founded in Elizabeth, New Jersey, by the Presbyterian Synod.
1747. College moves to Newark, New Jersey.
1748. Present charter granted in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
1753. Nathaniel and Rebeckah FitzRandolph and others deed 10 acres in Princeton to the College.
1756. Nassau Hall completed; College of New Jersey moves from Newark to Princeton.
1769. American Whig Debating Society formed.
1770. Cliosophic Debating Society formed.
1776. President John Witherspoon signs the Declaration of Independence.
1777. George Washington drives the British from Nassau Hall.
1783. Continental Congress meets in Nassau Hall, which served as the capitol of the United States from June until November.
1826. James Madison, Class of 1771 and former president of the United States, becomes the first president of the Alumni Association of the College of New Jersey.
1876. The Princetonian is published for the first time (still published daily by students during the academic year).
1882. Princeton University Art Museum founded.
1883. Triangle Club (originally called the Princeton College Dramatic Association) founded.
1893. Honor system established.
1896. Name officially changed to Princeton University.
1900. Graduate School established.
1905. President Woodrow Wilson establishes system of preceptorials.
1906. Lake Carnegie created by Andrew Carnegie.
1913. Graduate College dedicated.
1919. School of Architecture established.
1921. School of Engineering established.
1928. Princeton University Chapel dedicated.
1930. School of Public and International Affairs established.
1933. Albert Einstein becomes a life member of the Institute for Advanced Study, with an office on the Princeton University campus.
1940. Program of Annual Giving established. Undergraduate radio station (then WPRU, now WPRB) founded.
1948. Firestone Library dedicated.
1951. Forrestal Campus established on U.S. Route 1; “Project Matterhorn” research in nuclear fusion begins there. In 1961 its name is changed to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).
1964. Ph.D. degree awarded to a woman for the first time.
1969. Trustees vote to admit female undergraduates.
1970. Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), a deliberative body of faculty, students, staff and alumni, is established.
1971. Third World Center founded (renamed the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding in 2002).
1982. System of residential colleges established.
1996. 250th anniversary celebrated.
2001. Financial aid policy changes, replacing loans with grants that do not need to be repaid.
2006. University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts established (renamed the Lewis Center for the Arts in 2007), with a mandate to enhance the role of the arts in the University and community.
2007. Four-year residential college system launched with the opening of Whitman College.
2009. Bridge Year Program begins with 20 students deferring admission for one year to engage in international service.
2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University moved all classes online and asked students to leave campus by March 19.

Princeton Facts

Official motto. Dei Sub Numine Viget (Under God’s Power She Flourishes)
Informal motto. In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity
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
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.
On Nov. 6, 1869, the first American intercollegiate football game was played between Princeton and Rutgers.