Whitman Buildings Renamed after Gift from Sierra Ventures Managing Director Peter Wendell
When Adam Smyles ’15, a current resident of North B Hall in Whitman College, logged onto the Residential College Facebook a few months ago and the search results informed that his building no longer existed, he said he was a bit confused.
But after logging onto SCORE, he learned that his residence — and the adjacent North C Hall — had not disappeared but rather had been renamed.
“At that point, I assumed Princeton was renaming the dorm,” he said. “I officially found out a few days later when I asked my RCA about it.”
The two buildings, which together form the largest dorm complex in Whitman College, will be officially renamed Wendell Hall in the fall.
Eight years ago, Peter Wendell ’72, together with his wife Lynn Mellen Wendell ’77 and the couple’s friend Scott Cook, made a $10 million gift to the University to fund the construction of the dorm. The building will be named in honor of Peter Wendell’s late parents, Virginia and Eugene Wendell.
Peter Wendell, who led the Board of Directors of the Princeton University Investment Company and served as a trustee of the Princeton Charter, currently serves as a managing director at Sierra Ventures, a private venture capital firm. He has previously taught at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and been on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co.
Peter Wendell explained that the dorm has remained unnamed until now because his son, Patrick Wendell ’11, was still attending the University. He said that his son was “proud” that a building would be named after his grandparents but that he did not want there to be a naming ceremony for the building during freshman week of his freshman year, when the residential college was dedicated. Patrick Wendell is also a former executive editor for web for The Daily Princetonian.
“In the meantime, some of my Princeton friends have been calling me Mr. North,” Peter Wendell said.
The donation came in 2004 at a time when the University was trying to expand the population of undergraduates. Peter Wendell said he was heavily involved in fundraising efforts for all of Whitman College, including working with Meg Whitman ’77 on her $50 million donation to fund the college.
Peter Wendell said he remained involved in University development because of the impact the school had on his life after graduation.
“Since I was a full scholarship student, benefiting from the years of generosity that came to Princeton before I ever arrived, it just felt right to keep this system going for others,” Peter Wendell said in an email.
The decision to name the building after his parents also reflects his parents’ love for the school, he said.
“My parents didn’t go to college,” Peter Wendell said. “They weren’t fortunate to have a school of their own, but now they can have part of a college that is theirs.”
To Smyles, though, the value is in the new name.
“A temporary name like North B is very nondescript and doesn’t really fit on a campus where all the dorms have very distinct names. The name Wendell finally makes North Hall sound like a permanent part of the Princeton community,” Smyles said.
Peter Wendell said he hopes that students like Smyles will benefit from the private space Whitman offers, such as singles and suites with private bathrooms.
His ultimate wish for the building, he said, is to provide “a good room in room draw.”