Major gift from Jaimie and James Yeh ’87 names residential college, supports undergraduate expansion
James Yeh ’87 and his wife, Jaimie Yeh, made a major donation to the Venture Forward campaign, naming one of Princeton University’s new residential colleges. The four-dormitory Yeh College, formerly called New College East, will open in August to welcome returning students and the Class of 2026.
“This extraordinary gift propels Princeton forward in its mission to provide a transformative educational experience for more students who can then positively impact the world,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83. “We are thrilled to have Yeh College join the tapestry of names that are an integral part of our campus, and I am deeply grateful to Jaimie and James Yeh for their commitment to the Venture Forward campaign and their vision for Princeton’s future.
Yeh College will become Princeton’s seventh residential college. The adjacent New College West will become the new home for students and staff of the former First College. Located along Elm Drive near Poe Field, the new buildings will advance one of Princeton’s highest strategic priorities: expanding the student body so that other high-achieving students can experience the benefits of a education at Princeton, enhance the diversity and vitality of the campus community, and contribute to society upon graduation.
“When the University announced it would seek to increase the number of students who could be offered an education at Princeton through the Venture Forward campaign, we were immediately thrilled to lend our support,” said James Yeh, University Trustee and one of three co-chairs of the Campaign Executive Steering Committee for Venture Forward. “This process has been so rewarding because so many more members of the alumni community have come together, inspired by a vision for Princeton’s future, and collectively realized this expansion.”
“One of the best things about Princeton’s residential college system is how it sets students up for success by giving them a sense of community as soon as they step onto campus,” said Jaime Yeh. “The new colleges are designed to maximize that experience, with common spaces that help build on that community and invite students to spend time together.”
Residential colleges have helped define campus life at Princeton since the early 1980s, and they remain central to the university’s mission and distinctive educational model. The colleges – which currently include Butler, First, Forbes, Mathey, Rockefeller and Whitman – provide collegial and collaborative learning environments that are integral to student development and support an inclusive campus community. After the opening of Yeh College and New College West, the University will begin construction of Princeton’s eighth residential college, Hobson Collegewhich will be built on the site of First College.
“The names of our residential colleges become part of Princeton’s vernacular, part of campus identity, and ultimately part of the university’s history,” said Jill Dolan, dean of the college. “I am very pleased that students are making Yeh College their home in Princeton starting this fall. Yeh College represents everything we desire for our students’ collaborative experiences in their residential living and learning communities. I so look forward to inviting all of our students to enjoy the warmth and inclusiveness of the new college.
Yeh College and New College West will share some important features, such as dining rooms and common areas. Their location extends the residential area of the University south to a point where the more formal landscapes of Central Campus lead into the natural landscapes of Lake Carnegie. Proximity to other residential colleges – Butler, First and Whitman – and the open recreational space on Poe and Pardee grounds will foster interaction, engagement and a strong sense of undergraduate student community. Deborah Berke Partnersan architectural firm known for its inventive and sustainable buildings and spaces that foster community engagement, designed the new residential colleges.
James Yeh recently retired as Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Citadel, a leading global financial institution headquartered in Chicago. He was one of Citadel’s first employees and spent more than 25 years at the helm of the company. At Princeton, he earned an AB in Physics with a Certificate in Engineering Physics, then earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California-Berkeley. In addition to serving as a university trustee and co-chairing the Venture Forward campaign, he is a member of the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton and the Alumni Schools Committee. Jaimie Yeh received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
At Princeton, James and Jaimie have previously made donations to support theoretical science, capital projects and Princeton civic service internships, among other initiatives.
“I am the son of immigrants, and the Princeton alumni I met when I was a high school student in Alabama welcomed me, cared for me, and encouraged me to get the most out of my education at Princeton,” James said. “I can never truly repay this debt, but 40 years after I entered campus, we are inspired to do our part for the next generation of students, just as others have done for me. I hope that students who live at Yeh College will have transformative experiences, build friendships, discover their passions, and develop their talents so they can positively impact the world.
“Princeton changed James’ life in ways he never could have imagined,” Jaimie said. “There wasn’t a large Asian or minority population on campus at the time, but the fact that he and others came here and had such a positive experience that they wanted to give back speaks volumes. For us, this is why it is so important to extend this opportunity to others, to give more students from all walks of life the transformative Princeton experience that has been so beneficial for James and so many others.
The University’s strategic framework, adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2016, called for the expansion of the undergraduate student body by 500 students, an increase of approximately 10%. This increase in enrollment, coupled with Princeton’s nationally recognized need-blind financial aid program, will ensure that other talented students from all walks of life and sectors of society have access to an education at Princeton.
the Venture Forward Campaignwhich was launched in October 2021, supports the University’s strategic framework, and its fundraising and engagement initiatives are aligned with the key focus areas of this plan: university access and affordability, financial aid, data science, bioengineering, environmental, American studies, and other important areas of research that characterize Princeton’s commitment to the liberal arts.