|Previous names||Woodrow Wilson College|
First College (known as Woodrow Wilson College from 1966 to 2020), the first of Princeton University's six residential colleges, was developed in the late 1950s when a group of students formed the Woodrow Wilson Lodge as an alternative to the eating clubs. The Woodrow Wilson Lodge members originally met and dined in Madison Hall, which is now part of John D. Rockefeller III College. Inspired by the ideas of Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton from 1902–1910, the members advocated a more thorough integration of academic, social and residential life on campus.
In the fall of 1961, President Robert Goheen dedicated Wilcox Hall, the bequest of a distinguished alumnus, T. Ferdinand Wilcox '00, and the Lodge moved to the new dining facility and became the Woodrow Wilson Society. Wilcox Hall provided a permanent facility for the Woodrow Wilson Society with a dining room, library, billiards area, lounges for reading and recreation, and rooms for various social activities.
The completed dormitory quadrangle consisted of Dodge-Osborn Hall, 1937 Hall, 1938 Hall, 1939 Hall and Christian Gauss Hall, honoring the late Dean of the college. Today, the college also includes Feinberg Hall, which was completed in 1988, Walker Hall, and 1927-Clapp Hall.
In 1966, the Woodrow Wilson Society was formally reorganized as Woodrow Wilson College with Julian Jaynes of the Psychology Department as its first Master. He was succeeded by John Fleming of the English Department, Master from 1969–1972; Henry Drewry of History, Master from 1972–1975; Norman Itzkowitz of Near Eastern Studies, Master from 1975–1989; and then again by Fleming, who returned as Master of Wilson College for 1989–1997. Miguel A. Centeno of the Department of Sociology was Master from 1997 through the spring of 2004, and Professor Marguerite Browning of the Program in Linguistics began her term as Master in the Fall of 2004.
Beginning in 2007, then-Woodrow Wilson College became a four-year residential college, with new programs and advising. However, it later reverted to becoming a two-year residential college, only housing freshmen and sophomores, a state in which it remains today.
On June 26, 2020, Princeton University Board of Trustees announced that Woodrow Wilson's name will be removed from the Woodrow Wilson College and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, citing that his "racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school whose scholars, students, and alumni must be firmly committed to combatting the scourge of racism in all its forms." Woodrow Wilson College is to be renamed First College until its scheduled retirement in 2022, when it will be replaced by one of two new residential colleges.
The college is home to roughly 500 freshmen and sophomores and a small number of upperclass Residential College Advisors (RCAs). The college staff is led by the master (a faculty member), and also includes a dean, a director of studies, a director of student life, a college administrator, a college assistant, and a college secretary. A council of current students also contributes to college life, organizing trips, study breaks, and other opportunities.
The college at present houses no upperclassmen, with the exception of RCAs. A small number of graduate students also live in Wilson as advisers to undergraduate residents. First is a two-year college, paired with nearby Butler College. First College students who wish to live in a residential college past their sophomore year may move into one of the three four-year colleges, Whitman, Mathey, and Butler. Since First is paired with Butler College, priority for housing in Butler is given to students who spent their first two years living in First or Butler. Therefore, although it is possible for a First resident to move into any of the three four-year colleges after sophomore year, it is most advantageous for him or her to move into Butler.
- Shevin, Zachary; Doskoch, Evelyn; Kagan, Sam (June 27, 2020). "U. renames Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson College". The Daily Princetonian. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- "Board of Trustees' decision on removing Woodrow Wilson's name from public policy school and residential college". Princeton University. June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- "President Eisgruber's message to community on removal of Woodrow Wilson name from public policy school and Wilson College". Princeton University. June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Pietsch, Bryan (June 27, 2020). "Princeton Will Remove Woodrow Wilson's Name From School". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Princeton University Office of Communications. "President Eisgruber's message to community on removal of Woodrow Wilson name from public policy school and Wilson College". Princeton University. Princeton University. Retrieved June 28, 2020.