On a spring evening in 1895, Princeton seniors for the first time sang ballads about their professors on the steps of Nassau Hall. Andrew Imbrie, Class of 1895, borrowed the idea for the ditties from students at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He also adopted one of their tunes, an old Scottish ballad, "The Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre" (translated "Cleaning Out Dung from George's Cowshed").
They launched a tradition that lasted at least into the 1960s. These "Faculty Songs" were generally irreverent, sometimes barbed but seldom ill-natured, and usually celebrated favorite professors.
Most faculty songs only survived a few years, but some had long lives, such as a verse celebrating the arrival of the original preceptors in 1905 that was still being sung in 1930. Some renowned personalities — like Dean of the College Christian Gauss — had a number of different verses sung about them over the years.
Among the favorites are:
THE FIRST GROUP OF PRECEPTORS (1906)
Here's to those preceptor guys,
Fifty stiffs to make us wise.
Easy jobs and lots of pay,
Work the students night and day.
PRINCETON'S 13TH PRESIDENT; THE U.S.A.'S 28TH (1913)
Here's to Woodrow Wilson who
Cleaned up Taft and Teddy too;
So once a hundred years we'd nip
The presidential championship.
FIRST DEAN OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL (1926)
Here's to Andrew Fleming West,
A Latin scholar self-confessed.
He lived to see a lifetime's hope
Constructed out of Ivory Soap.
A VERSATILE DEAN THE OBJECT OF ENVY DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION (1932)
Professor Gauss, he teaches French,
Dean Gauss, he judges on the bench,
Mr. Gauss don't write for fun;
He's got three jobs, and we've got none.
ERNEST GORDON, SCOTTISH DEAN OF THE CHAPEL (1966)
All hail to Gordon, Earnest Dean,
Of Heaven and Hell, he paints the scene;
If you can take his brimstone brew,
You'll get your Scotch on Sunday too.