Task Force on the Residential College Model

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The University's residential colleges serve as the nexus for the integration of academic and non-academic life, offering an array of academic and social programs to enhance the undergraduate experience.

As the University plans for the future, including potential additions to the undergraduate student body, the Task Force on the Residential College Model is charged with exploring a variety of questions pertaining to the residential college system.

In 2007, with the opening of Whitman College, Princeton launched a four-year residential college system in which three four-year residential colleges are paired with three two-year colleges. Prior to this transition, five two-year residential colleges had been in place since 1982. The system of paired two- and four-year colleges was intended to support community-building and engagement by creating more interaction for freshman and sophomore undergraduates with upperclass students, graduate students and faculty. Additionally, the expansion of the college system was designed to provide enhanced academic advising for all students as well as more robust living and dining options for upperclass residential life.

To encourage the most robust and productive thinking around the University's college model, task force members are asked to review and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the University's current college model and engage in "blue-sky" thinking on several topics. In particular, the task force is asked to explore the following areas creatively: (1) the ideal size and composition of the residential colleges and (2) the best ways in which the residential colleges can provide students with social and intellectual community, engagement, support, advising and mentorship. To investigate these areas, the task force is asked to examine a variety of questions, including but not limited to:

  • What are our goals for the residential college system, especially as our undergraduate student population becomes more diverse? How well are we achieving these goals?
  • How can we ensure that the University's residential college system supports the integration of the academic and non-academic aspects of student life to the fullest extent possible?
  • How should residential colleges be sized and structured to develop a strong sense of community and engagement among undergraduates? How might they be used to encourage more connection between undergraduate and graduate students?
  • What are our goals for upperclass affiliation with the residential colleges and how can we best achieve these goals?
  • To what extent and how should the University encourage faculty engagement in the colleges?
  • Are there opportunities to improve the residential college advising program?
  • Are there opportunities to reallocate existing resources for residential colleges for high priority programs and initiatives?
  • Is the paired two-year/four-year model accomplishing the stated goal of "taking fullest possible advantage of the diversity and educational opportunities at Princeton?" If not, what changes would enable the realization of this goal?
  • How can the residential college model best provide students with residential and co-curricular experiences that support their career and life goals? How can the system best support and enhance the University's culture of service? How can the colleges foster increased opportunities for student leadership?
  • How best can the University evaluate and measure success as it aims to enhance the residential college model?

In conducting its work, the task force will be informed by the 2002 Report of the Four-Year College Program Planning Committee as well as the 2011 Report of the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life. The task force will also consult with members of the campus community and assess the range of residential college systems at peer institutions. As input from undergraduate students will be especially important, the committee is asked to involve students early and throughout the process by convening focus groups. The final report of the task force is expected to include proposed guiding principles and priorities for the residential college system, a set of standards against which to test future proposed changes to the residential college model, and a suite of recommendations to enhance the University's college system in the years to come.



  • Nicole Shelton, Professor of Psychology; Associate Chair, Department of Psychology; Master, Butler College

Faculty members

  • Margot Canaday, Associate Professor of History
  • Eric Gregory, Professor of Religion
  • Michael Hecht, Professor of Chemistry; Master, Forbes College
  • Clarence Rowley, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Student members

  • Jane Baldwin, Graduate Student, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Carlos Sotelo, Class of 2017
  • Megan Steffen, Graduate Student, Anthropology
  • Emmy Williams, Class of 2015

Staff members

  • Kathleen Deignan, Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
  • Claire Fowler, Senior Associate Dean of the College, Office of the Dean of the College    
  • Rebecca Graves-Bayazitoglu, Dean of Whitman College; Lecturer in English
  • Mellisa Thompson, Director of Student Life, Forbes College        
  • Chad Klaus, Vice President, University Services        
  • Hilary Parker, Assistant Vice President, Office of the President


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