1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Princeton University

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PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, an American institution of higher learning in Princeton, New Jersey, until 1896 called officially the college of New Jersey. Its campus consists of 539 acres comprised in three tracts of ground adjoining each other. The main campus, one of the most beautiful in the country, is on the south side of Nassau Street, the old country road between Philadelphia and New York, and is principally contained in a block of about 225 acres, which on its west side has an almost continuous row of English collegiate Gothic buildings: Blair Hall, Stafford Little Hall and the gymnasium.

Nassau Hall, which was built in 1756, nearly destroyed by fire in 1802, rebuilt in 1804, and damaged by fire in 1855, is a squarely built edifice in the Georgian style. Originally housing the whole college, it is familiariy known as North College, in a quadrangle arrangement of which West College, built in 1836, is the only other remainder; the south side having been occupied since 1838 by Clio Hall and Whig Hall, the homes of the two literary societies, founded respectively in 1765 and 1769, and since 1893 housed in white marble buildings of classical type; and East College, having given place to the main building of the University Library (1897), in Oxford Gothic of Longmeadow stone, the gift of Mrs Percy Rivington Pyne. Besides West College, the dormitories are Reunion Hall (1870), commemorating the reconciliation of the Old and New schools of the Presbyterian Church; University Hall (1876), formerly an hotel and now housing on its lower floors the university dining halls for all freshmen and sophomores; Witherspoon Hall (1877), in Victorian Gothic of grey stone trimmed with brown; Edwards Hall (1880), a brown stone Gothic building; Albert B. Dod Hall (1890), a granite limestone-trimmed Italian building; David Brown Hall (1891), granite and Pompeian brick, in Florentine Renaissance; the Pyne Buildings (1896) in half-timbered Chester style; Blair Hall (1897), built in English Collegiate Gothic of white Germantown stone, on the south-western margin of the campus; the Stafford Little Hall (1899 and 1901), in the same style as Blair Hall, and joining it on the south; Seventy-nine Hall (1904), the gift of the class of 1879, another Tudor Gothic building of red brick trimmed with Indiana limestone; and Patton Hall (1906); Campbell Hall (1909), the gift of the class o 1877; and a new group of buildings, chiefly dormitories, occupying the entire north-west corner of the main campus, fronting on Nassau and University Place, three sections of which (two being the gift of Mrs Russell Sage) were completed in 1910. These buildings are in the same architectural style and of the same materials as Blair and Little Halls. There is accommodation for about 90% of the undergraduates of the university in the campus dormitories, including the new buildings.

The recitation halls are: Dickinson (1870; remodelled in 1876) and McCosh Hall (1907), for the academic department; and the school of science building (1873), a gift of John C. Green, on the north-east corner of the main block of the campus. The Halsted Observatory (1869) and the Observatory of Instruction (1878) are well known for the work done in them by the astronomer Charles Augustus Young (1834-1908); among the laboratories are the biological (1887), the chemical (1891), the civil engineering (1904), the Palmer physical (1908), and, for natural science, Guyot Hall (1909), which also houses the natural science museum, including valuable fossils. There is a museum of historic art (1887) which includes the finds of the Princeton archaeological expedition to Syria, and in Nassau Hall there is a psychological laboratory. There are two auditoriums, the Marquand chapel (1881), the gift of Henry G. Marquand, and Alexander Hall (1892), used for commencement exercises. Also on the campus are the dean's house (1756), until 1878 the president's residence; Prospect (1849), bought by the college in 1878, which is the president's residence; the university offices (1803); and Dodge Hall (1900) and Murray Hall (1879), which are the home of the college Y.M.C.A., the Philadelphian Society, founded in 1825.

The university library is housed in a large building already described, built (1896) on to the Chancellor Green library building (1872), given by John C. Green in memory of his brother Henry Woodhull Green, chancellor of the state of New Jersey, and now the reading room and reference library. In 1910 the library had a collection of 257,800 volumes and about 58,000 unbound pamphlets. There are two athletic fields: one, the university, two blocks east of the main campus, and the other, the Brokaw field, in the south-west corner of the main campus; immediately north of the latter are the Brokaw Memorial gateway and building (1892), with a swimming pool, and the university gymnasium (1903). South-east of the Campus is Lake Carnegie, an artificial widening of Millstone River, the gift of Andrew Carnegie; it is used for boating.

A notable feature of the university is its upper-class club-houses. The upper-class clubs have in the social life of Princeton somewhat the place of the Greek letter societies elsewhere. There are no fraternities at Princeton: each entering student pledges himself to “have no connexion whatever with any secret society, nor be present at the meetings of any secret society” so long as he is a member of the university, “it being understood that this promise has no reference to the American Whig and Cliosophic Societies.” These two societies, the object of which is particularly to cultivate skill in debate and public speaking, are affiliated with the English department of the faculty.

A peculiarity of the university is its system of student government, which is most markedly developed in the Princeton “honour system” in examinations and written recitations, under which every student signs a pledge on his paper that he has “neither given nor received assistance,” and there is no faculty or monitorial watch over students in examinations; the system is administered by a student committee, to which any dishonesty in examinations is to be reported, and which then investigates the charge, and if it finds it true reports the offender to the faculty for dismissal.

The university in 1910 included an academic department, leading to the degree of A.B.,or Litt. B.; the John C. Green school of science (1873), offering courses leading to the degree of B.S. and C.E.; a school of electrical engineering; and a graduate department (1877), with courses leading to master's and doctor's degrees. Entrance requirements are largely in accordance with the recommendations of the National Educational Association and the college entrance examination board; students entering the academic department must offer Greek if they are candidates for the degree of A.B.; students (not offering Greek for entrance) who concentrate in mathematics or science in junior and senior year are candidates for the B.S. degree, and those who concentrate in other departments during those years, for the Litt. B. degree. The entrance requirements for the B.S. and Litt. B. degree are the same, and they differ from those for the A.B. degree (and agree with those for the C.E. degree) in including more mathematics, i.e. solid geometry and plane trigonometry. The school of electrical engineering is graduate and professional in its scope. The graduate school (1871) is only slightly developed, and this development has been almost entirely since 1900; a bequest of more than $300,000 in 1906 provided for the John R. Thomson Graduate College; and the estate of Isaac Chauncey Wyman (d. 1910), of the class of 1848, valued at about $3,000,000, was left to the university for the establishment of the graduate school.

A notable feature of the scheme of instruction is the preceptorial (or tutorial) system, introduced in 1905; it somewhat resembles Jowett's method at Balliol College, Oxford; the preceptors, usually young men (many of them domiciled in the dormitories), have “conferences” each with a certain number of students on prescribed reading, especially in the departments of philosophy, history and politics, art and archaeology, and the languages. The preceptorial system has been a great success, and seems to have given the university a greater intellectual vitality. In 1909-1910 the university faculty numbered 169, of whom 51 were preceptors. In the same year there were 1400 students of whom 134 were in the graduate school, 13 in the school of electrical engineering, 521 in the A.B. course, 440 in the Litt.B. and B.S. courses, 203 in the C.E. course, and 89 not in regular courses.

The corporate title of the university is “The Trustees of Princeton University,” and the university is governed by the trustees, of whom the governor of the state of New Jersey is ex officio president. The president of the university is president of the board in the absence of the governor. The Board consists of twenty-five “life trustees,” a self-perpetuating body, two ex officio trustees, and (since 1900) five alumni trustees, elected by the graduates of the university for a five-year term, one each year.

The tuition fee is $160 a year in all undergraduate courses. There are many scholarships and prizes, a fund for the remission of tuition to students of insufficient means, and funds for the assistance of students for the ministry. In July 1909 the assets of the university were $4,749,482, of which $4,168,900 was invested for endowment; of the endowment $3,410,907 was special, $330,445 general, $60,000 historical, $122,643 was for scholarships and $244,905 was for professorships; and in this fiscal year the gifts for current expenses and special purposes amounted to $199,294 and the gifts for endowment to $1,508,283.

The university owes its origin to a movement set on foot by the Synod of Philadelphia in 1739 to establish in the Middle Colonies a college to rank with Harvard and Yale in New England and William and Mary in Virginia. Owing to dissension in the Church, no progress was made until 1746, when the plan was again broached by the synod of New York, recently formed by the secession of the presbytery of New York and the presbytery of New Brunswick, radical (New School) presbyteries of the Synod of Philadelphia. The synod of New York was led by Ebenezer Pemberton (1704-1779), a graduate of Harvard (1721), and Jonathan Dickinson (1688-1747), a graduate of Yale (1706). Together they had attempted to make peace between the conservatism of the presbytery of Philadelphia and the radicalism of the presbytery of New Brunswick. Most of the leaders of the presbytery of New Brunswick had been educated at the Log College, a school with restricted curriculum, situated about 20 m. N.N.E. of Philadelphia, but recently closed. The students of the Log College were almost without exception preparing for the Presbyterian ministry, and on the closing of the Log College, the opportunity was taken by the synod of New York to found a larger and better institution of higher learning, broader in scope and training, and to transfer to the new project the Log College interests. On October 22nd 1746, John Hamilton, acting governor of New Jersey, granted a charter for erecting a college in New Jersey. The college of New Jersey was opened in May 1747 at Elizabeth, New Jersey, with the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson as president. Little was accomplished until 1748, when, on the 14th of September, a second charter was granted to the “trustees of the College of New Jersey,” thirteen in number. The college under the administration of Jonathan Dickinson, held its exercises from the last of May 1747 to the 7th of October 1747, when Dickinson died. Upon the succession of Aaron Burr to the presidency, the school removed to Newark, where the first commencement was held in 1748 and where Burr began the work of organizing the college and its curriculum; but the situation was unsuitable, and in 1752 the trustees voted to remove the college to Princeton, where land was given for the Campus by Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. While funds were being collected in Great Britain, work was begun in Princeton in 1754 on the first college building, which, at Governor Belcher's request, was named Nassau Hall, in honour of King William. A year after the completion of this single college building and the removal of the students to Princeton, Burr died and was succeeded by his father-in-law, Jonathan Edwards, who died after five weeks in office (1758). He was succeeded (1759-1761) by Samuel Davies, and Davies (in 1761-1766) by Samuel Finley (1715-1766). John Witherspoon (q.v.) was president from 1768 until his death in 1794, and more than any of his predecessors influenced the college. The presidents immediately succeeding Witherspoon were: his son-in-law, Samuel Stanhope Smith (1750-1819), who resigned in 1812; Ashbel Green (1762-1848), who resigned in 1822; James Carnahan (1775-1859), who held office for thirty-one years (1823-1854), and in whose presidency there was, in 1846-1852, a department of law in the college; and John Maclean (1800-1886), who was president from 1854 to 1868. Up to the outbreak of the Civil War, the college was largely attended by Southerners, and the Civil War thus dealt it a doubly heavy blow, from which it began to recover under the long presidency (1868-1888) of James McCosh, who, like his successor, Francis Landey Patton (q.v.), president from 1888 to 1902, greatly advanced the material welfare of the college. Fourteen new buildings were erected during Dr McCosh's administration, and the John C. Green School of Science was established in 1873 by the gift of John Cleve Green; and during Dr Patton's administration the enrolment of students more than doubled, as did the number of members of the faculty. In October 1896, on the 150th anniversary of its founding, the official name of the College of New Jersey, long popularly displaced by Princeton, was dropped, and the corporation became “The Trustees of Princeton University,” although the institution did not become, in the usual American use of the term, a university, having no professional schools whatever, and only a small post graduate department. On Dr Patton's resignation in 1902 he was succeeded by Woodrow Wilson (q.v.), the first layman to become president, who introduced the preceptorial system already described.