Princeton University Names New Provost

Princeton University has named Deborah Prentice as its second-ranking officer, effective July 1.

Prentice, currently the dean of the faculty, succeeds David Lee, a professor of economics and public affairs who has decided to return to full-time teaching and research after serving as the provost since 2013, school officials said. The provost is the school’s chief academic officer and its chief budget officer, with special responsibility for long-range planning.

“I am deeply grateful for Dave’s willingness to take on the role of provost as I began my presidency,” President Christopher Eisgruber said in a prepared statement. “I appreciate and respect his desire to pursue once again the scholarly passions that brought him to Princeton first as a student and then again as a faculty member. I am especially delighted that he now plans to apply his scholarly expertise and administrative experience to direct a new project on higher education metrics and outcomes.”

Eisgruber praised Prentice and said he looks forward to working with her on priorities school officials have identified in planning initiatives.

“She has been a superb dean of the faculty, and in that capacity has been integrally involved in all of our strategic and campus planning efforts as well as in the University’s academic and budgetary planning for which she now will have principal responsibility,” he said. “She is knowledgeable, thoughtful, insightful, compassionate, and wise, and she has a deep appreciation for every aspect of this University’s mission and work.”

Prentice, a professor of psychology and public affairs, was named dean of the faculty in 2014 after serving for 12 years as the chair of the department of psychology. A social psychologist who studies social norms, she began teaching at Princeton in 1988 while completing her Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University, following undergraduate work at Stanford University. She became an assistant professor in 1989, associate professor in 1995 and full professor in 2000.

As dean she has served on the president’s cabinet and the academic planning group and as secretary to the trustee committee on academic affairs. Prior to her appointment as dean she co-chaired the trustee ad hoc committee on diversity and chaired the resources committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community.

“I am honored and excited to become Princeton’s provost, especially at this critical juncture,” Prentice said. “The strategic planning and campus planning processes have given us a compelling vision of how we can build on the extraordinary strengths of this University in the years ahead, and I am eager to work with the entire university community to make this vision a reality. That said, I will miss being the dean of the faculty. I have learned a tremendous amount in my three years as dean and have enjoyed getting to know so many wonderful colleagues. The faculty inspire me every day, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in my new role.”

A search for a new dean of the faculty will begin this spring, school officials said.

Lee will serve as director of a new strategic evaluation and data initiative at Princeton that will seek to develop better mechanisms for enabling and enhancing data-based decision-making at Princeton and throughout higher education, and to facilitate scholarship on the impact and productivity of higher education.

“In the development of the University’s strategic planning framework, our trustees emphasized the importance of developing ways to evaluate our success in achieving our mission and to assess our long-term impact on our alumni and the world,” Lee said. “I am excited by this opportunity to encourage high-quality scholarship and analysis on questions of strategic interest, which I hope will improve decision-making and generate knowledge about the societal impact of our sector of higher education.”