Actively seeking diversity is a modern phenomenon. The traditional student body was resolutely male and predominantly white for more than two centuries — with a few exceptions, such as Jacob Wooley, a Delaware Indian and member of the Class of 1762; John Chavis, Class of 1795, a freedman who was the first African American to matriculate at Princeton; and Hiroichi Orita, Class of 1876, who is believed to be the first Asian student to graduate from the University.
The 20th century was a watershed in the history of minorities at Princeton, particularly for African Americans. In the midst of World War II, Princeton, in concert with the federal government, administered the United States Navy's V-12 program, which afforded the admittance of four African American students: John Leroy Howard, James Everett Ward, Arthur Jewell Wilson Jr. and Melvin Murchison Jr. With the exception of Murchison, they earned undergraduate degrees from Princeton in 1947.
The University community is bolstered by further campus centers that are an important part of life at Princeton, including the Women's Center and the LGBT Center. Along with alumni conferences that bring together communities of Princetonians, affiliated groups also enable alumni to maintain their ties to the University through gender, ethnicity or a particular interest.