Higher Education, the Humanities and Religion

The following is a growing list of Princeton alumni who have made contributions in the area of higher education, the humanities and religion.

Please note: As is traditional when referring to Princeton alumni, each name is followed by the individual's graduation year. Those with undergraduate degrees are preceded with an apostrophe (e.g., James Billington '50), and those with graduate degrees are preceded with an asterisk (e.g., William Bowen *58). All alumni who graduated prior to 1930 will have their class year spelled out — including undergraduate alumni (e.g., Hubert Alyea, Class of 1924) and graduate alumni (e.g., Harold Dodds, GS 1914).

Danielle Allen '93 – Political theorist, professor of classical languages and literature, former dean of humanities at the University of Chicago, awarded MacArthur Fellowship for her writing on democracy and citizenship. Appointed to the Institute for Advanced Study, becoming the first African American permanent faculty member.

Hubert Alyea, Class of 1924 – Professor of chemistry for decades, gave lectures around the world and taught science by demonstration with simple means more feasible in developing nations. Walt Disney's inspiration for the film "The Absent-Minded Professor."

James Billington '50 – Librarian of Congress. During his tenure, the library expanded its public outreach and multimedia activities significantly.

William Bowen *58 – Seventeenth president of Princeton (1972–1988); later sparked public debate on college admissions and the roles played by race, athletics and income in higher education.

Howard Crosby Butler, Class of 1892 – Archaeologist, excavated Syrian ruins from 1910 to 1922; first director of the Princeton School of Architecture.

Karl Compton, GS 1912 – President of MIT from 1930 to 1948; developed a new approach to teaching science and engineering; established the graduate school. He was a member of the committee that advised President Harry Truman on use of the atomic bomb; helped organize the American Institute of Physics.

W. Robert Connor *61 – Princeton professor of humanities; president of the American Philological Society; director of the National Humanities Center from 1989 through 2002. Developed programs to link state-of-the-art scholarship with strengthened teaching at college and pre-collegiate levels.

Harold Dodds, GS 1914 – Fifteenth president of Princeton (1933–1957), a time of great growth in the size of the student body and faculty; oversaw creation of academic departments in music, creative arts, aeronautical engineering, Near Eastern studies, the construction of Firestone Library and Dillon Gym and a great expansion in the Woodrow Wilson School.

Christopher L. Eisgruber '83 – Twentieth president of Princeton (2013–) who served as University provost for nine years and as a faculty member for 12 years before being named president. A constitutional scholar. 

John V. Fleming *63 – Professor of English and comparative literature from 1965 to 2006; revered teacher of Chaucer; Commissioner of Higher Education of Middle States, president of Medieval Academy of America; writer of popular blog "Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche."

Raymond B. Fosdick, Class of 1905 – President of the Rockefeller Foundation (1936–1948), during which time the foundation supported Planned Parenthood and organizations to promote world peace.

Basil Gildersleeve, Class of 1849 – Founder of American Journal of Philology; dominant figure in classical scholarship in the late 19th century.

Robert Goheen '40 *48 – Sixteenth president of Princeton (1957–1972), during which time Princeton admitted large numbers of minorities and women for the first time; U.S. ambassador to India from 1977 to 1980.

James Hepburn, Class of 1832 – Developed Romanized Japanese alphabet and Japanese-English dictionary.

Richard Land '69 – Head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the strongest lobbying organization on the religious right; spokesman for conservative viewpoint.

James Manning, Class of 1762 – First president/founder of Brown University; delegate for Rhode Island to the Continental Congress in 1786.

Anthony Marx *90 – President of the New York Public Library, president emeritus of Amherst College; leader in national movement to make colleges more accessible to qualified students from lower-income families.

Whitney Oates, Class of 1927 – Founding member of National Council on the Humanities; professor of classics and Greek.

Hikoichi Orita, Class of 1876 – A student of James McCosh, instrumental in revolutionizing and modernizing the Japanese system of higher education.

Henry Fairfield Osborn, Class of 1877 – Renowned paleontologist and driving force behind the establishment of the American Museum of Natural History as a preeminent scientific institution.

Moses Taylor Pyne, Class of 1877 – Financier and philanthropist whose collections of rare books became the origins of Princeton's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

John Rawls '43 *50 – Philosopher; considered one of the most influential proponents of liberalism since John Stuart Mill.

John D. Rockefeller III, Class of 1929 – Philanthropist; established the Asia Society and the Asian Cultural Program in 1967 to encourage East-West cultural and economic exchange.

Laurance Rockefeller '32 – Philanthropist, venture capitalist and financier; invested in Eastern Airlines, which became the most profitable airline after WWII.

Neil Rudenstine '56 – Rhodes Scholar; professor of English at Princeton and an educational administrator for most of his career, first as dean of students, dean of the college and provost of Princeton University and later as president of Harvard University.

George Rupp '64 – President of Rice University (1985–1993) and Columbia University (1993–2002); head of International Rescue Committee.

Harold Shapiro *64 – Eighteenth president of Princeton (1988–2001) and former president of University of Michigan (1980–1988); oversaw a huge increase in Princeton’s endowment. Co-chaired National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1996–2001).

Chang-Lin Tien *59 – President of University of California-Berkeley (1990–1997); fought to preserve the university's academic excellence during time of severe cuts in state funding.

Henry P. Van Dusen, Class of 1919 – Theologian; helped found World Council of Churches.

Henry Van Dyke, Class of 1873 – Educator; chair of the committee that produced The Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church.