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A Conversation with Dean Redman

Dean Redman

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

David Redman, who served as Acting Dean of the Graduate School during the inaugural Hooding Ceremony in 1994, graciously made himself available in December 2019 to discuss the history of the Hooding Ceremony at Princeton. Dean Redman retired at the end of September 2012 after 39 years of service to the Graduate School. He retired at that time as the longest serving administrator in the school’s history, serving as Assistant, Associate, and Acting Dean of the Graduate School during that tenure.

“For most of that time his focus was academic affairs, reading the application of every student recommended for admission, every annual academic progress report and re-enrollment recommendation, and every degree application for the final public oral — a connection from admission to graduation with an estimated 17,500 grad students”.1

Dean Redman stated that discussion on the idea of holding a hooding ceremony for graduate degree awardees had taken place in previous deans’ administrations as well. In the early ‘90’s, Princeton was looking for ways to better highlight and showcase the Graduate School and graduate students. In meetings with peer graduate schools, Princeton Graduate School deans learned that some of them had recently instituted hooding ceremonies for similar reasons. Almost a year’s preparation was required to hold that first ceremony in the spring of 1994 during Dean Redman’s tenure. That original ceremony was held in Proctor Hall, but it was subsequently moved into different venues on the main campus, to both better accommodate the many family members and friends that wanted to share in the celebration and better integrate it with the broader Princeton community.

Proctor Hall, interior and exterior

Proctor Hall2

Dean Redman shared an anecdote from that first event worth retelling. The occasion of the first ceremony was rather tense for obvious reasons, as the administration wanted this initial ceremony to go perfectly. Further concern was raised by the forecast of stormy weather in the late afternoon (a concern that remains even today, as the ceremony is now planned outdoors in Cannon Green). The participants—students and guests--assembled in Thompson Courtyard under looming skies. Just as the last graduate entered the building, the skies opened and torrential rain, with accompanying thunder and lightning, fell. “Disaster” was averted and a proud new tradition at Princeton had begun.

Daniel A. Abramowicz, Ph.D. *84, January 21, 2020

1) Princeton Alumni Weekly, “Redman retires; helped thousands along grad school’s academic path” October 10, 2012.

2) Princeton University, “Princeton University Concerts”, n.d. (accessed December 4, 2019).