July 18, 2018
Welcome to Rockefeller College!
As Head of Rockefeller College, I am very excited that you have been assigned to be a member of our fantastic community. Rockefeller College, which we affectionately call “Rocky,” is about to become your “home away from home” during your time at Princeton, and I look forward to welcoming you in person when you move into your dorm room on Saturday, September 1.
At Rocky, you will find the entire staff of the college works hard to actively create a vibrant community of students from a vast range of diverse backgrounds, hailing from every corner of the nation and the world. We do this by making sure that our residence halls, our dining hall, our facilities, and our gathering spaces all provide an exciting living and learning environment that serves to enrich the Princeton experience. As a two-year residential college, Rocky houses approximately 250 first-years and 250 sophomores. While only a handful of juniors and seniors live in Rocky dorms, about 220 juniors and 220 seniors belong to Rocky College, and we hope that Rocky will feel like “home” throughout your time at Princeton. Our historic dorms, dining hall, and common room comprise some of the most beautiful spaces on campus, and I am confident that in these spaces you will develop close friendships, be challenged to think differently, learn new talents, and become your best self. Our goal is to help you take full advantage of everything Princeton has to offer.
When you move into your dorm room, one of the first people you will meet will be your Residential College Adviser (RCA), who will also be in contact with you this summer. The RCAs are carefully selected juniors and seniors who form the backbone of the Rocky community, helping first-year students navigate almost every aspect of university life by sharing their personal experiences and providing connections to various resources on campus.
During orientation, you will also meet members of the Rocky College Council. The College Council is a group of 15 sophomores who organize many activities over the course of the year, including weekly study breaks, college nights in the dining hall, Broadway trips, karaoke, and intramural sports. As the school year gets closer, be sure to check your Princeton email for information on getting involved with Council initiatives. The Council looks forward to your ideas and meeting you at the Rocky events they sponsor.
Your RCA group will also be paired with one of our nine Resident Graduate Students (RGS). These are a select group of graduate students who live in the College, initiating and participating in programming that enhances the social and intellectual life at Rocky.
Also during orientation, you will meet your Peer Academic Adviser (PAA), a junior or senior who will be paired with your RCA and will provide you with academic guidance from a student perspective to complement the advice you get from your Faculty Adviser, whom you’ll meet later in orientation week. Your PAA will facilitate a discussion about Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, the book selected for the Princeton Pre-Read for the Class of 2022, following the Pre-Read Assembly with President Eisgruber and the author, Prof. Keith Whittington, on the evening of Sunday, September 9.
Living in Blair Tower is our Resident Faculty Fellow, Prof. Florent Masse. Prof. Masse, who grew up and studied in France, is a Senior Lecturer in the French and Italian department, and directs L’Avant-Scène, the French Theater Workshop. On many weeknights, you will see him rehearsing with his theater group in the Rocky Common Room. At the beginning of the academic year, you can also catch events of Seuls en Scène, the international French theater festival that he curates each year.
The nerve center of the enterprise is the Rocky College Office, located in Madison Hall, right next to the dining hall. Here you will find the Rocky College Staff, who are here to help you with both academic and non-academic matters. The Dean oversees the academic progress of all Rocky students, and works with me and the rest of the staff to enhance our intellectual and social community in a variety of ways. The Director of Studies is responsible for academic advising for first-years and sophomores, and works with your faculty advisers and Peer Academic Advisers to help you reach your full academic potential at Princeton. The Director of Student Life supervises the RCAs, provides Rocky students with support around health and wellness issues, and connects students to a variety of extra-curricular interests within and outside Rocky. The College Program Administrator oversees the college budget and the physical facilities, and she works with the RCAs and College Council to plan intellectual and social activities that are engaging and fun. The first person you are likely to see when you come to the office is the College Office Coordinator, who assists in many facets of college life; if you have an issue and are not sure who to talk to about it, she can direct you to the right place.
Finally, there is the College Head, who is a senior faculty member charged with the responsibility for the general well-being of the College and those who reside there. I joined the Princeton faculty in 2001, after receiving my Ph.D. at Caltech, and my undergraduate degree right here at Princeton. I am a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and am an affiliated faculty member in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. My wife Leslie also works at Princeton, in the Woodrow Wilson School, and we have two children, ages 8 and 10, whom you will surely see running around the Rocky dining hall.
My goal as Head of Rocky is to foster a supportive and inclusive community, in which residents help one another and meaningfully engage with one another outside the classroom. One of my favorite aspects of residential college life is that it provides a natural setting for people of incredibly diverse backgrounds and interests to interact in meaningful ways. In our community, you will find athletes and musicians, poets and astrophysicists, students of every religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic circumstance. Rocky College is a place where all of us come together, to look out for each other, engage with each other, and understand each other, in a supportive environment where we can all feel at home. For the next four years, you will be a part of this community, and I am excited to see what unique perspectives you will bring.
If you would like to learn more about all of us, please visit our website, where you’ll find information about our facilities, as well as photos and bios of our student leaders and staff. I’d also encourage you to like our Facebook page, in order to receive updates about what is happening at Rocky.
I look forward to your arrival on campus on September 1 and meeting you more formally at the college opening dinner that evening. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer.
Head of Rockefeller College