Welcome Class of 2023! From the Head of Whitman College- Claire Gmachl

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
by sarak

Dear Members of the Class of 2023,

Greetings from Princeton! I am writing to welcome you to Whitman College! Whitman is a thriving, energetic, and welcoming community of approximately 200 first-year students – that’s you! – more than 200 sophomores, plus the juniors and seniors who chose Whitman as their upperclass residence. Together with Residential College Advisers (RCAs), Resident Graduate Students (RGSs), and Peer Academic Advisers (PAAs) they all live, work, and play in a beautiful complex of residential halls, courtyards, and Community Hall, our dining area. Whitman also is home to a small theater, a dance practice room, lounges for relaxing and hanging out with friends, and study rooms.

Much of what goes on at the College originates with, and is organized by, the Whitman College Council (WCC). This group actively develops virtually all aspects of Whitman’s cultural, social, and academic life, including intramural sports, concerts, trips, speakers, and a variety of social events. The current Chair is Sean Wang ‘22. You’ll find a letter from Sean on the College Council web page and WCC members will be on hand to greet you when you arrive in September.

Another group of students who will be important to you are the RCAs. You will soon be contacted by your RCA, whose room will be near yours. Your RCA can provide a wealth of information about Princeton. An RCA is a specially selected junior or senior who will be your main peer guide during orientation and through your freshman year.

Nine RGSs, who hail from academic disciplines ranging from Spanish and Portuguese to Geoscience, also live at Whitman. They facilitate intellectual and social activities and share insight into college life from the vantage point of a recent graduate. In addition to your RCA and RGS, your three-person student advising team will also include a PAA, who is there to provide advice from a student perspective on the academic opportunities here at Princeton. Faculty advisors and faculty fellows assist you in building an engaging curriculum and provide intellectual inspiration beyond the classroom. 

I am the Head of Whitman College; I am also a professor in electrical engineering. My group’s research is broadly in experimental semiconductor device research, especially lasers and small photonic systems.  I have been an advisor to first-year B.S.E. students for many years, and my favorite classes to teach are first-year classes, especially on the foundations of engineering. I am looking forward to getting to know each one of you; please come join me for lunch or dinner in the dining hall and/or the Head’s house. I am looking forward to hearing about your first-year experience and about your ideas for activities and action in the College.

This will be my first year as Head, so together we will learn all there is to know about Whitman. We’ll be aided by the fabulous Whitman’s College Office staff, who I’d like to introduce to you:

  • Overall management of the College is under the direction of Alexis Andres the Dean of Whitman College. While she has primary responsibility for juniors and seniors, Dean Andres can advise all Whitman students.
  • Jaclyn Schwalm, Whitman’s Director of Studies, works with the College Dean on all aspects of academic advising and offers general guidance for students, particularly first-year students and sophomores.  In addition, she organizes intellectual and academic programs for Whitmanites.
  • Momo Wolapaye, is Whitman’s Director of Student Life. He works closely with various groups of undergraduates to help make Whitman an exciting and supportive place. Mr. Wolapaye also provides assistance to students experiencing difficulties with their health and wellness.
  • Kristin Frasier, is the College Program Administrator. She oversees the facilities and finances of the College.  If you need to reserve a room or obtain some resources for a project, Ms. Frasier is the person to contact.
  • Sara Krause, our College Coordinator, is the first person to greet you when you enter the college offices.  If you’re not quite sure whom to see for a particular issue, Ms. Krause will be happy to help you.

I very much look forward to working with staff, student leaders, and faculty—as well as you and your classmates—to create a welcoming, safe and supportive environment for everyone at the College.

Please visit our website: http://www.princeton.edu/whitmancollege to learn more about Whitman, including some beginning-of-the-year activities. Also, be sure to “like” us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitmanatPrinceton and follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitmanatprinceton/

On August 31st, we will meet at Whitman and I will have the great pleasure of welcoming you and your family in person. In the meantime, the entire staff joins me in wishing you a happy summer.

With my best regards,

Claire Gmachl signature

Claire Gmachl
Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering
Head of Whitman College