Princeton has launched a strategic-planning process that ties its mission of excellence in education and research even more strongly to public service. Among the ideas to be considered is whether Princeton should reverse its ban on accepting transfer students, which could open the door to more veterans and top community-college students, among others who have limited access to elite colleges.
The plan, announced Feb. 10 by President Eisgruber ’83, will consider how Princeton should move over the next five to 10 years to meet the risks facing higher education and take advantage of new opportunities. In addition to budget pressures from the federal government and political skepticism about the value of basic research and a liberal-arts education, Eisgruber identified “the trend of growing inequality in American society and the world [as] actually the most important right now for defining the set of challenges that we face.”
Speaking to the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), which includes students, faculty and staff members, and alumni, Eisgruber suggested that excellence in education and research is not enough to achieve the University’s mission, and that Princeton must “justify everything we do on the basis of its contribution to the common good.” He discussed the prospect of accepting transfer students in the context of a possible expansion of the student body and the enrollment of more low-income students.
Acknowledging Princeton’s “history of exclusivity,” Eisgruber noted that the University’s commitment to being an engine of social mobility increasingly is questioned, with critics labeling Princeton as part of the problem, not the solution. The University, which stopped taking transfer students in 1991, is the only Ivy League school that does not allow transfers.
Eisgruber also talked about making public service a defining part of the Princeton experience. “Ideally I’d like this to become part of Princeton’s brand,” he said, citing the need to “elevate the prominence and expand the scope” of community service. The strategic-planning process will continue through the 2014–15 academic year.