Princeton’s first Vice Dean for Innovation, Rodney Priestley, recently became the university’s graduate school’s new dean on Mar. 9.
“My interest in becoming dean of Princeton’s Graduate School originates with my own personal experience of graduate school,” Priestley said. “The mentorship, encouragement, and support I received have enabled every goal I have reached throughout my career. My advisers’ belief in me has always inspired me to give back to others to whatever extent possible.”
He further expressed his excitement for the ability to serve a “wide range” of graduate students through his new position.
“I’m really, really excited to be able to serve a wide range of graduate students and hopefully impact their graduate education in a manner that they have an experience that’s as good as the one that I did.”
With his new title, he would be overseeing almost 3,000 of them as they pursue masters and doctoral degrees across 42 departments and programs.
Priestley reportedly joined Princeton’s faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris. He previously earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
In 2015, he became an associate professor. And in 2019, he was appointed as a full professor. The following year, in 2020, he was named the Vice Dean for Innovation. In 2021, he won Princeton’s graduate school’s Clio Award for enforcing “entrepreneurial awareness and training for graduate students” and creating leadership training for a diverse group.
Throughout his career at the university, he conducted groundbreaking research in materials science, published over 100 articles, co-invented ten patent-pending technologies, and co-founded two startup companies based on inventions he made at his Princeton laboratory.
He has also been the faculty advisor to the National Society of Black Engineers student chapter, working to improve inclusivity at Princeton.
“Rod Priestley is a superb scholar, a dedicated teacher and a proven administrator,” the Princeton’s President, Christopher L. Eisgruber, said about the vice dean’s appointment. “He cares deeply about graduate students and graduate education, and I am confident that he will lead Princeton’s Graduate School with distinction.”
Priestley is scheduled to begin his new role on Jun. 1.