Welcome Class of 2026! From the Head of Whitman College- Claire Gmachl

March 9, 2022

Dear Whitman Class of 2026,

Greetings from Princeton University and welcome to Whitman College!  I am so delighted that you will be joining Whitman College and Princeton University this fall as a member of the great Class of 2026!

Whitman College is a welcoming, diverse, and thriving community of approximately 220 first-year students – that’s you! –200 sophomores, and 100 junior and senior students who reside in the college. You will be joining your peers, Residential College Advisers (RCAs), Resident Graduate Students (RGSs), and Peer Academic Advisers (PAAs) in calling Whitman College, a beautiful complex of residential halls, lounges, courtyards, and Community Hall, our dining area, home.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to a fully residential college experience this fall, with in-person teaching and a full slate of extracurricular and co-curricular activities, many of which will be planned by the Whitman College Council (WCC), a student-led group that first years may join. Please be assured that our Whitman staff and student leaders are committed to helping you stay healthy and well, while ensuring that we build and nurture Princeton’s vibrant residential community.

During your first year, you’ll receive advice and support from a number of student leaders. You will soon be contacted by your RCA, whose room in the college will be near yours and who can provide a wealth of information about Princeton. An RCA is a specially selected and trained junior or senior student who will be your main peer guide during Orientation and through your first year.

Eight RGSs, who hail from academic disciplines ranging from Philosophy to Computer Science, also live at Whitman. They facilitate intellectual and social activities and share insight into college life from the vantage point of recent college graduates.  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 will 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 and Computer Engineering. My group focuses broadly in experimental semiconductor device research, especially lasers and small photonic systems, mostly in the mid-infrared. I have been an adviser 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: I’m easy to find in Community Hall or the college office, and I will meet you at your ‘Zee (short for “advisee”) group’s dinner at my home!  I am looking forward to hearing about your first-year experience and about your ideas for activities and action in the College.

I would also like to introduce to you our wonderful Whitman College Office staff:

  • Jaclyn Schwalm, Dean of Whitman College directs the overall day-to-day management of the college. While she has primary academic advising responsibility for juniors and seniors, Dean Schwalm can advise all Whitman students.
  • Matthew Newman, Assistant Dean of Whitman College, works with the college dean on academic advising and offers general guidance for students, particularly first-year students and sophomores.  In addition, he organizes intellectual and academic programs for Whitmanites.
  • Momo Wolapaye is Whitman’s Director of Student Life. He works closely with various groups of undergraduates – especially the RCAs and the WCC – to help make Whitman a fun, healthy, and supportive place. Momo also provides assistance to students who are experiencing health and wellness challenges. 
  • Kristin Frasier is the College Program Administrator. She is our student leaders’ go-to person for programming and she oversees the facilities and finances of the College. She is also our liaison to Building Services and Dining Services.
  • Sara Krause, our College Coordinator, will be the one you meet first when you come to the college office, and she answers the phone when you dial 609-258-8900. If you’re not quite sure whom to see for a particular issue, Ms. Krause will be happy to help you.
  • You will also meet our Residential Life Coordinator, whose role is to support and promote the health, safety and well-being of our students. They reside in the residential college, and so are readily available to respond to urgent situations and to help organize social programs.  

I very much look forward to working with student leaders, staff, and faculty—as well as you and your classmates—to create a welcoming, happy, safe and supportive environment for everyone at the College.  You’ll receive more specifics about your room and roommate assignments from the Housing Office later this month.  

Please visit our website: http://www.princeton.edu/whitmancollege to learn more about Whitman College; we will make regular updates to the page throughout the summer. You can also keep abreast of activities at Whitman if you follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitmanatprinceton/ or Twitter: https://twitter.com/whitmanatpu

Or "like" us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WhitmanatPrinceton

As I finish, please let me say it again: on behalf of the entire Whitman College Office staff, welcome to Whitman College and Princeton University!  We are so excited to have you join our Whitman College Community!  Until you arrive on campus, have a happy and safe summer! 

With my best regards,

Claire Gmachl signature

Claire Gmachl
Head of Whitman College
Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Interim Director ACEE