Armstrong named head of Butler College at Princeton

Written by
The Office of Communications
May 4, 2020

Elizabeth (Betsy) Mitchell Armstrong
Elizabeth (Betsy) Mitchell Armstrong Photo by Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy
Armstrong is an associate professor of sociology and public affairs, The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She will succeed Nicole Shelton, the Stuart Professor of Psychology, who has been head of Butler College since 2012.

The appointment was announced by Dean of the College Jill Dolan and Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan. A faculty member serves as the head of each of Princeton’s residential colleges, working closely with their deans, directors of studies and directors of student life to build community and to devise programs and activities to extend students’ education beyond the classroom.

Jill Dolan said: “I’m delighted to welcome Betsy to the Council of College Heads. Her important contributions as a teacher, a faculty adviser, a scholar and a University citizen make her an exceptional choice to succeed Nicole Shelton as the faculty head of Butler. I look forward to sharing in the creativity, warmth and generosity Betsy will bring to her work with the college.”

“I believe that the residential colleges play an indispensable role in the collective life of the University and in the individual lives of students; it’s a true honor to be appointed the next head of Butler College,” Armstrong said. “I’m committed to the notion of the residential college as a home base on campus, a place where students can unite their intellectual interests and passions and their social and personal development. I’m looking forward to collaborating with the terrific Butler staff and the students to foster engagement and curiosity and to sustain and deepen the vibrant Butler community. My family and I are excited to make Butler our new home!”

Armstrong is a graduate alum of Princeton, with a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School. She joined the faculty in 2000. Her research and teaching focus on the intersection of medicine, health policy and culture, with a particular emphasis on gender. She is the author of “Conceiving Risk, Bearing Responsibility: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Diagnosis of Moral Disorder,” and has published numerous journal articles. Her current research explores the cultural dimensions of obstetric medicine and the development of ethical and evidence-based policies around maternity care. Her course, “Born In the USA:  Culture and Reproduction in Modern America,” is always over-subscribed and popular with students.

At Princeton, Armstrong is a faculty associate with the Office of Population Research, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Program in the History of Science.  She has served multiple times as the Director of Graduate Studies at OPR.  From 2003-19, she directed the graduate certificate program in health and health policy. She was recognized with the sociology department’s Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award in 2007.

Armstrong has held a variety of University service roles at Princeton, including those focused on supporting undergraduates. Since 2001, she has been a Rockefeller College faculty fellow and freshman/sophomore adviser. She chairs the Truman Scholarship committee at Princeton and she is a Novogratz Bridge Year faculty fellow.  She was a member of the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership and currently is on the Committee on Health Professions Advising and the executive committee of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as the Committee on the Course of Study. She served on the executive committee of the Program in Global Health and Health Policy, and the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and has been active with the McGraw Council on Teaching and Learning as well as the Council of Princeton University Committee.  

Armstrong is a member of several professional organizations related to her areas of expertise, and also is engaged in professional public health-focused activities, in particular regarding reproductive health. From 1998-2000, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. 

After earning her MPA from Princeton, Armstrong received her Ph.D. in sociology and demography from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University.