Greetings from Princeton! As Head of Whitman College, I am writing to welcome you and your family to your child's new "home away from home." You'll soon discover that Whitman is a beautiful complex of buildings that houses some 500 students—a full complement of first-year students and sophomores, as well as the juniors and seniors who remain in Whitman all four years at Princeton.
Even more important than Whitman's accommodations is its well-known spirit. Students often describe Whitman as a "happening place," since the College weaves so many exciting Princeton opportunities right into the fabric of everyday life. This year is a particularly memorable year for us as we will celebrating Whitman College’s ten year anniversary. Intellectual events are always a highlight (from special talks by faculty and alumni, to scheduled language tables, to a week-long exchange with a Hong Kong university) as are co-curricular activities (service and community outreach, readings and performances, sports, and our famous Whitman Coffee Houses). Through these many opportunities, students learn and grow as they deepen friendships with their peers.
Whitman is, above all, a warm, inclusive, and supportive community. Many College activities are organized by the undergraduates themselves, and the Whitman College Council (WCC) takes the lead in programming a wide range of cultural, social and academic events. Particularly central to the lives of incoming students are our Residential College Advisers (RCAs), those specially selected juniors and seniors who live in the residence halls alongside the first-year students, and act as a source of information, guidance, activities, and encouragement from Orientation onward. Eight Resident Graduate Students (RGSs) from several academic disciplines also live in Whitman; there they collaborate with the WCC, RCAs and College staff in creating intellectual and social activities while serving as experienced role models for our students.
Princeton Faculty and Staff Fellows along with a Resident Faculty member contribute importantly to everyday life at Whitman as well. Dining with our students in Community Hall, or leading special trips or discussions, they provide opportunities for students to interact informally with University faculty and staff beyond the classroom and laboratory.
Where do I fit in? Each college has a Head, who is also a Princeton professor. My academic department is Comparative Literature, and my many years of teaching, writing, and administration have certainly convinced me of the outstanding quality of a Princeton liberal arts education. This is something I’ve experienced from a different perspective as well, since all three of my children are Princeton graduates.
When I meet you in September, I can talk a bit more about the “Princeton parent” experience. For now, let me simply emphasize how much I look forward to meeting your student—and all of our newest “Whitmanites.” When the school year begins, I'll be holding "dessert hours" with small groups of the Class of 2021—as one way to get to know each new student. Please also encourage your child to stop by my Whitman office for a chat (I'm usually there in the late afternoons) and to meet me any time for dinner in beautiful Community Hall.
One of the Head’s most important jobs is making sure the College has a first-rate staff. I'm especially proud of the colleagues who work with me at Whitman. Our Dean, Director of Studies, Director of Student Life, Administrator, and College Secretary all look forward to meeting you and to welcoming your children into the Whitman community when they move in on September 2nd. We’ll be working together to make Whitman a safe, congenial, stimulating and inclusive environment for everyone. Please feel free to visit our website: http://whitmancollege.princeton.edu to learn more about Whitman, its people, and some beginning-of-the-year events. You can also keep abreast of activities at Whitman if you "like" us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WhitmanatPrinceton. We update the site regularly, so you can keep an eye out for a picture of your child. When school is about to begin, I hope to meet you at Whitman and have the pleasure of welcoming you in person. In the meantime, the entire staff joins me in wishing you a pleasant and productive summer.
With best wishes,
Cotsen Professor of the Humanities
Professor of Comparative Literature
Head of Whitman College