Dean of the Graduate School William Russel will step down at the end of the 2013-14 academic year and return to the chemical and biological engineering faculty, the University announced Sept. 11.


Dean of the Graduate School William Russel. (Photo: Ruth Stevens, Office of Communications)

Russel, who became dean in 2002, has overseen a period of significant growth in graduate programs. In 2002-03, 2,011 graduate students were enrolled at Princeton, according to a report from the registrar. Today, the school includes about 2,600 students.

A University news release listed several of the changes that Russel has overseen in his tenure, including the addition of Ph.D. programs in quantitative and computational biology and neuroscience and the creation of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities; the creation of summer stipends for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences; improvements in monitoring students’ progress, to identify Ph.D. candidates who are struggling; and increases in the diversity of the graduate student body.

“Bill Russel’s leadership has enhanced Princeton's Graduate School in ways too numerous to count,” President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said in the release. “He has sustained academic excellence, improved our stipend and support system for graduate students, integrated those students more fully into the University community, and strengthened the ties that bind the University to its graduate alumni. Bill Russel has given unselfishly to this University, and his legacy will benefit our graduate students, and Princeton more generally, for many years to come.”

Russel joined the Princeton faculty in 1974 and served as the chemical engineering department’s chairman from 1987 to 1996. He also headed the Princeton Materials Institute from 1996 to 1998.

Eisgruber has chosen Professor Claire Gmachl, vice dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to chair the committee that will search for Russel’s successor. Additional committee members have not been announced.