Responsibilities of the Position

The dean of undergraduate students (dean) leads the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS), a unit within Campus Life that provides resources, opportunities, and experiences for undergraduates and the larger Princeton community to develop personal, cultural, and social skills that complement and enrich their academic lives. Reporting to the vice president for campus life and serving as a member of the President’s Council, the dean is a trusted voice in leadership deliberations, an advocate for students, and a builder of community who oversees areas of residential life, student-initiated activities and governance, crisis management, and student conduct. The dean supports co-curricular activities and large-scale events and programs that welcome students into the Princeton community, enrich their experience, and celebrate their accomplishments. The dean guides strategic planning, program development, assessment, and goal implementation for all aspects of ODUS in alignment with Campus Life’s strategic plan and Princeton’s strategic framework.

The dean chairs the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline and works with a number of university committees and departments to shape policy affecting undergraduate life. The dean maintains an especially strong partnership with the dean of the college, particularly in support of Princeton’s seven residential colleges. The dean also works closely with other Campus Life deans and directors (particularly the executive director of university health services, the director of counseling and psychological services, and the director of athletics) and with the assistant vice president for public safety to ensure the safety and well-being of Princeton students. The dean is responsible for a team of 37 staff members, a budget of $16.7 million, five campus buildings, and over 100 student organization and performance spaces.

The Position

Qualifications and Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

Princeton seeks in its next dean of undergraduate students a talented, accomplished, and visionary leader who can build on the success and considerable strengths of ODUS and lead the department into a new era of innovation and excellence. Minimum requirements include an advanced degree (doctorate preferred) and at least ten years of leadership experience focused on the education and support of students.

The successful candidate will bring a deep knowledge of current and emerging thinking and best practices in student affairs and exceptional administrative, financial, and managerial acumen. The next dean will be a person who is known for partnering well in complex environments and advancing data-informed policies and practices that promote the holistic development of students. This leadership opportunity calls for a forward-thinking and inclusive administrator with experience operationalizing a shared vision and deploying resources; significant experience with student conduct, crisis management, and student care and well-being; exceptional listening, speaking, writing, and influencing skills; an ability to coach and mentor staff and promote a team culture of collaboration, accountability, and learning; a commitment to diversity in all its forms and a proven track record of promoting inclusive excellence; an understanding of the culture and values of residential colleges; and an affinity for Princeton’s mission and aspirations.

While no candidate will have all the ideal qualifications, the campus community seeks individuals with many of the following traits, experiences, and abilities:

  • A record of accomplishment as a thoughtful and caring leader, as a seasoned and talented student affairs educator, and as a strategic thinker and administrator.
  • An effective advocate for the needs and concerns of students, working collaboratively across the institution to advance a campus-wide focus on the student experience and to strengthen the structures and programs that support a thriving community in which all students can succeed.
  • An ability to promote the general welfare of students and help them understand that membership in an academic community requires honesty, integrity, respect for people and property, and the responsible use of personal freedom.
  • A sophisticated knowledge of best practices in higher education and documented success in creating conditions that improve student engagement, development, and success.
  • Knowledge of the legal environment and evolving regulatory standards affecting higher education and student affairs.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, including the ability to exercise a high degree of diplomacy and discretion.
  • A collegial, inclusive, and approachable style that inspires trust and invites collaboration, transparency, and mutual support.
  • An ability to drive innovative thinking, anticipate and solve problems, and deliver results that consistently meet or exceed expectations.
  • A person who leads by example and engages staff in a way that challenges them to reach for possibilities, supports their professional development, and reinforces among them a sense of common purpose and shared experience.
  • An ability to assess crisis situations quickly, coordinate critical response systems, and connect students and their families with appropriate support and resources.
  • Familiarity with the mental health needs of today’s college students; able to develop programs and operating protocols based on data-driven assessment results and best practices in campus mental health.
  • An effective steward of financial resources, adept at budget planning, management, and accountability.
  • Ability to serve as an agent of change while simultaneously bringing others on board, building broad support, and being respectful of history and tradition.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity in all its forms and a proven track record of support and advocacy for students with diverse identities, histories, backgrounds, and experiences.
  • An ability to use research, data, and assessment to guide decision-making and promote continuous improvement.
  • Superb written and oral communication skills as well as an ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences, including students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors.
  • An ethical leader who acts with integrity, treats others fairly, and demonstrates empathy, emotional intelligence, resiliency, political savvy, gravitas, and grace under pressure.

History of the Position

After four decades, Kathleen Deignan, Princeton’s dean of undergraduate students, is set to retire from the university. She is one of Princeton’s most dedicated and impactful leaders, recognized for providing wise and steady administrative leadership, always with a primary focus on student well-being and success.

Princeton has retained Spelman Johnson to assist in recruiting the next dean to build on Deignan’s accomplishments and lead the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students into a new era of innovation and excellence. The successful candidate will be expected to take office in January 2024, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

The next dean of undergraduate students will proactively address the following opportunities and challenges:

  • Serve on Campus Life’s leadership team and the President’s Council as a vital colleague, partner, and subject matter expert.
  • Develop and advance an innovative, inclusive, and unifying strategic vision for ODUS, building on its current strategic framework.
  • Guide the work of reporting staff and ensure that each organizational area is meeting its goals in supporting the holistic development and educational experience of all students.
  • Envision and implement systematic ways to assess, improve, and renew programs and services, benchmarking them against best practices and gathering the data necessary for informed decision-making.
  • Lead and support efforts to enhance the residential experience, strengthen belonging across student identities, and prioritize student health and well-being.
  • Promote an ethic of care and concern, provide critical support to students in times of need, and coordinate the university’s response to student emergencies and crises involving undergraduates.
  • Oversee the student conduct system and help students understand that membership in an academic community requires honesty, integrity, respect for people and property, and the responsible use of personal freedom.
  • Find effective ways to balance tradition with contemporary practice, to thrive in a decentralized organization, to build bridges and consensus, and to prepare students for lives of service, civic engagement, and ethical leadership.

Measures of Success

Soon after joining the Princeton community, the dean will work directly with Vice President W. Rochelle Calhoun to identify specific quantitative and qualitative measures of success, along with associated timetables.

In the short term, the dean’s success will be measured by the degree to which they learn and are able to navigate the culture and complexities of Princeton, build relationships with colleagues across Campus Life and the university, and earn the trust and respect of students, faculty, staff, and senior leaders. In the longer term, the dean’s success will be measured by the achievement of specific objectives related to supporting strategic goals and meeting the evolving needs of students.

Institution & Location

Overview of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students

ODUS works with the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, provides resources, opportunities and experiences for undergraduates and the larger Princeton University community to develop personal, cultural, and social skills that complement and enrich their academic lives in support of the university’s educational mission.

Mission, Responsibilities, and Functions

Overview of Campus Life

Comprising Athletics and Campus Recreation, Campus Life Initiatives (including Princeton Army ROTC), the Center for Career Development, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (including the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding and the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center), the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of Religious Life, University Health Services, and the Office of Campus Engagement, the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life leads the University’s efforts to provide an enriching experience for Princeton’s more than 5,200 undergraduates and nearly 3,000 graduate students.


Campus Life strives to provide an integrated educational experience that cultivates skills and habits of mind that inspires students to lead lives of meaning, purpose, and social responsibility.


Campus Life enhances the holistic development and educational experience for all students by complementing academic study with co-curricular opportunities that engage, enrich, and advance student learning and growth.

Campus Life Strategic Plan


Rochelle Calhoun, Vice President for Campus Life

Rochelle Calhoun has administrative oversight for matters that help to shape the student experience at Princeton, including athletics and campus recreation, career development, health services, religious life, diversity and inclusion, residential life, service and student activities.

She began her career in college administration while still a graduate student at Columbia University working with Playwrights Horizon Theatre to coordinate curricular and co-curricular programs for their NYU students. She joined her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, as an assistant dean of students responsible for working with students of color and cultural organizations. She held several other student affairs positions at Mount Holyoke, including director of diversity and inclusion, associate dean of the college, and acting dean of the college before joining Skidmore College, where she served as dean of students and vice president for student affairs. She came to Princeton in 2015.

Currently, Calhoun serves as the president of the McCarter Theatre Center Board of Trustees in Princeton, New Jersey. She also serves on the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Division of Student Life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously, Rochelle’s community volunteer services included membership on the board of directors for Home Made Theater, Saratoga Springs, New York; Saratoga Springs Sponsor a Scholar; and Planned Parenthood, Saratoga Springs, New York. Calhoun served a two-year appointment as the president of the board of directors for Girls, Inc. of Holyoke, Massachusetts. She has served as a parent member of her children’s School Councils; community trustee of the local United Way; on the board of directors for the National Conference for Community and Justice Western Massachusetts, and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst Fine Arts Center. Calhoun was elected to the South Hadley, Massachusetts School Committee where she served two years.

Calhoun received a BA degree in theater arts and politics from Mount Holyoke and an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in theater from Columbia.

Institutional Overview

Princeton University is a world-renowned research university with a vibrant community of scholarship, research, and teaching that seeks to serve the nation and humanity and has achieved the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding.

Princeton has a profound, enduring commitment to undergraduate education, with a low student-to-faculty ratio and a curriculum that emphasizes learning, creativity, innovation, and collaboration within a program of liberal arts in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. The approximately 5,300 undergraduate students are part of a vibrant campus community, and students stay connected to Princeton long after they have graduated. Students work closely with distinguished faculty who routinely push the frontiers of human knowledge with their research and scholarship. Students’ experiences inside and outside the classroom simultaneously prepare them for meaningful lives and careers, broaden their outlook, and help shape their character.

Among the university’s highest strategic priorities is the expansion of the undergraduate population by 125 students per class—approximately ten percent of the total population. In fall 2022, the university opened two new residential colleges that will provide the space and the capacity to achieve that goal over several years.

Princeton also has a strong commitment to graduate education where students become part of a community of scholars at one of the world’s leading research universities. A focus on doctoral education, with a select number of master’s degree programs, across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering that emphasizes original and independent scholarship, students work closely with distinguished faculty who routinely push the frontiers of human knowledge with their research and scholarship. Over 3,000 graduate students study in an environment in which everyone is empowered to push their fields forward, producing fundamental research with transformational global impact. Princeton University welcomed 743 graduate students from 55 countries for the 2022-23 academic year, the largest cohort in over a decade.

Mission Statement

Strategic Framework

The Student Body (2022-2023 data)

  • Total enrollment: 8,895
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 5,540
  • Graduate enrollment: 3,238
  • Special enrollment: 117

Diversity Statement

Diversity and inclusion are central to Princeton’s educational mission and its desire to serve society. Throughout the university, members of the Princeton community have a deep commitment to being inclusive.

Institutional Leadership

Chirstopher Ludwig Eisgruber, President

Christopher Ludwig Eisgruber has served as Princeton University’s 20th president since July 2013. He served previously as Princeton’s provost for nine years, beginning in 2004, after joining the Princeton faculty in 2001.

As president, Eisgruber has led efforts to increase the representation of low-income and first-generation students at Princeton and other colleges and universities. Princeton’s socioeconomic diversity initiatives have attracted national attention from The New York Times, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes and other news outlets. Eisgruber has also been a leading voice in Washington and elsewhere for the value of research and liberal arts education. He has emphasized the importance of both free speech and inclusivity to Princeton’s mission; championed the university’s commitment to service; and launched initiatives designed to fortify Princeton’s connections to the innovation ecosystem in New Jersey and beyond.

Princeton Leadership

Benefits Overview

Compensation and Benefits

The compensation range for this position is $200,000- $225,000 with a generous benefits package designed to support physical, mental, and financial wellness. For more information on the benefits offered at Princeton, click here for more information..

Application & Nomination

Princeton has retained Spelman Johnson, a national executive search firm, to assist with this search. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter.

Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Confidential inquiries and nominations should be directed to Jim Norfleet, practice leader and senior consultant, at

Visit the Princeton University website at

 Princeton University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. EEO IS THE LAW

Facts and Figures

Princeton History

Princeton, New Jersey