Welcome Letter to Class of 2022 from Head of College Nicole Shelton

Thursday, Jul 19, 2018

Dear Butlerite,

Welcome to Butler! As Head of Butler College, I am very excited that you have been assigned to be a member of our wonderful living and learning community.  Butler College 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 room in September. 

At Butler 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, and our gathering spaces all provide an exciting living and learning environment that serves to enrich the Princeton experience in untold ways.  As a four-year residential college, Butler houses approximately 200 first-years, 200 sophomores, and 150 juniors and seniors.  Our beautiful dorms, including Bloomberg, Bogle, Yoseloff, Wilf, the Class of 1967 Hall, the Class of 1976 Hall, and 1915 Hall, are some of the most sought after places on campus.  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 RCA program consists of carefully selected juniors and seniors who form the backbone of the College, helping first-year students as mentors and friends to adjust smoothly to almost every aspect of university life.

During orientation you will also meet members of the Butler College Council.  The College Council is a group of dedicated students who will organize many activities over the course of the year, including study breaks, college nights in the dining hall, Broadway trips, intramural athletics and civic engagement events.  As the school year gets closer, be sure to check your Princeton email for information on getting involved with Council initiatives. The Council will welcome your ideas and your involvement right from the very start of your Butler career! 

During orientation you will also meet our Resident Graduate Students (RGS), a select group of graduate students who live in the College, initiating and participating in programming that enhances the social and intellectual life of Butler.  Your RGS will facilitate discussion about Speak Freely, the Princeton Pre-Read for the Class of 2022, following the Pre-Read Assembly with President Eisgruber and the author during orientation.

Also during orientation, you will meet your Peer Academic Advisers (PAA), upperclass students 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.

Living in the penthouse of 1976 Hall is our Faculty in Residence, Dr. Byron Ahn.  Dr. Ahn, who earned his doctorate at UCLA in 2015, is an assistant professor in our Linguistics Program.  He studies structural aspects of language in both syntax and prosody, as well as how the two relate and diverge.  Given his love of travel and movies, you can expect to learn about both from the exciting events that he will host throughout the year.

The nerve center of the enterprise is the Butler College Office, located on the second floor of Gordon Wu Hall, upstairs from the dining hall.  Let me introduce the Butler College staff:

David Stirk, the Dean of Butler College, joined the University in 2004.  He oversees the academic progress of all Butler students, and works to enhance our intellectual and social community in a variety of ways.  Dean Stirk received his Ph.D. from the American Studies Program at Yale and his research and teaching is in the area of 19th and 20th century visual culture.  He has taught courses in the First-Year Seminar Program, the Princeton Writing Program, and the Program in American Studies.

Matthew Lazen has been the Director of Studies at Butler since 2005.  He is responsible for academic advising for first years and sophomores and pairs you with your faculty academic adviser and peer advisers.  He is also responsible for all academic programming in the college and oversees the Butler Gallery.  Dr. Lazen received his Ph.D. from the Literature Program at Duke, specializing in film and French studies, and recently completed his second doctorate, an Ed.D. in higher and postsecondary education at New York University.

Deshawn Cook joined Butler College in 2016 as the Director of Student Life.  Along with supervising the Butler RCAs, he provides Butlerites with guidance and support on personal and social matters and fosters a dynamic residential life environment through the advisement of the College Council.  Dr. Cook received his D.Litt. in Fine Arts from Drew University and his research focuses on the salient contributions of artists during the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Robyn Howard, the College Program Administrator, joined the Butler College staff in 2014.  Robyn works closely with the RCA’s, College Council, and RGS’s to make sure you have intellectual and social activities that are engaging and safe.  In addition, she manages the College budget and oversees the physical facilities.  Robyn earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where she majored in Visual Arts with a focus on scriptwriting, filmmaking, and sculpture.

Susan Giranda, the College Program Coordinator, joined the Butler College staff in 2007.  Sue coordinates many of the staff’s activities and assists in virtually all facets of College life.  Sue is an amazing artist, as you will see from the advertisements she creates for our events throughout the year.  In addition, she is the creator and organizer of the annual Butler Photo Contest.  Sue is happy to help you in any way possible to enrich your Princeton experience.  Sue is a graduate of Rider University where she majored in Marketing and received a B.S. in Business Administration.  

Last, there is the College Head, who is always a senior faculty member charged with the responsibility for the general well-being of the College and those who reside there.  I joined Princeton’s Department of Psychology in 2000 as a faculty member, and this is my seventh year as Head of Butler College.  I received my Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Virginia.  My teaching and research focus on intergroup interactions and friendships.

As Head of Butler, my goal is to create a strong sense of community, where residents help one another, and look out for each other, while at the same time keeping in mind the wider communities at Princeton and the world beyond FitzRandolph Gate.  Making any community strong and vibrant involves individuals working together in engaging and meaningful ways to improve the lives of all of its members.  I look forward to working with you toward this common goal.

I will share more information about the Butler community when we meet for dinner on move-in day, Saturday, September 1st for the Head of College First Year Address in Wu Dining Hall.  For now, I send you best wishes for the rest of the summer.  If you would like additional information at this time about Butler College and the people who will offer guidance and support throughout your time at Princeton, please visit the Butler College website at https://butlercollege.princeton.edu/. To see photos of the activities offered in the College you can follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook (ButlerCollege-PrincetonUniversity).  Welcome to Butler College!


J. Nicole Shelton
Head of Butler College