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Rodney Priestley, Princeton's First Vice Dean For Innovation, Named New Dean Of Graduate School

Rodney Priestley, Princeton's First Vice Dean For Innovation, Named New Dean Of Graduate School

He’s been with the school for over a decade!

Princeton University has named its first vice dean of innovation, Rodney Priestley, as the new dean of its Graduate School, reports. 

Priestley holds a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Texas Tech and a doctorate from Northwestern, joining Princeton’s faculty as an assistant professor in 2009. Since then, he has been integral in furthering research in materials science, helping to develop new products and enterprises and expanding Princeton’s partnerships with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other key stakeholders. In 2015, Priestley was promoted to associate professor and in 2019, he became a full professor. 

A year later, Priestley was appointed to the endowed professorship, named vice dean for innovation at Princeton. In that role, he provided academic leadership for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, simultaneously serving as co-director of the NSF Innovation Corps Northeast Hub, an association of regional universities led by Princeton that work on fostering innovation throughout the region via a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation. 

Now, Princeton has named Priestley as the new dean of their Graduate School, overseeing nearly 3,000 graduate students across 42 departments and programs. Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber spoke about Priestley’s appointment, saying, “Rod Priestley is a superb scholar, a dedicated teacher and a proven administrator. He cares deeply about graduate students and graduate education, and I am confident that he will lead Princeton’s Graduate School with distinction.”

A committee of both faculty members and graduate students nominated Priestley for the role, the researcher saying he’s excited and honored. Priestley will focus on leading the department through their next stage of growth and investment, doubling down on their mission and continuing to advocate for innovation at the graduate level. 

“My interest in becoming dean of Princeton’s Graduate School originates with my own personal experience of graduate school. The mentorship, encouragement and support I received has 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… 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,” he said. 

Priestely will step into his new role on June 1. 

Photo Courtesy of Frank Wojciechowski/