Campus Partners Spotlight - John Weeren

John Weeren smiling in front of a grey background
In recognition of, among many other things, "his heart for helping others," John Weeren is the subject of our first Campus Partner Spotlight.
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Bio: John Weeren

John S. Weeren is founding director of Princeton Writes, a program designed to enhance the practical communication skills of our University community. Through classes, tutorials, self-improvement groups, and other forms of support, as well as an interactive websitePrinceton Writes is committed to fostering a culture that values the written and spoken word and uses them effectively in the workplace and other non-academic settings. Launched in 2013, this program traces its beginnings to a class John designed for the Office of Human Resources’ Management Development Certificate Program while serving as President Shirley M. Tilghman’s speechwriter. The popularity of this class and those that followed confirmed the need for a University-wide resource of this kind, and at the end of President Tilghman’s tenure, John made Princeton Writes his full-time focus.

He began his career as an archivist, first in Canada, where he was raised, and then in the United States, the country of his birth. John began at Princeton in 1994, when he joined the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library as a project archivist. In 1998 he was named head of public services, a position he held until 2001, when he moved to the Lehigh Valley, where he served as Moravian College’s first professional archivist. On his return in 2004, President Tilghman noted, “In addition to being an excellent writer, John brings a deep knowledge and appreciation of Princeton’s history and a broad interest in the life of the campus” – qualities that continue to serve him well at the helm of Princeton Writes.

John holds a B.A. (Hons.) in History and Spanish from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University and an M.A. in history from the University of British Columbia.



About: GradSpeak

GradSpeak is a partnership between Princeton Writes and GradFUTURES that empowers graduate students to speak effectively in public. As John notes, "[i]t is one thing to engage in significant scholarship; it is another to clearly and convincingly explain what this scholarship entails and why it matters to an audience whose expertise may differ widely from one’s own.

Each month, graduate students from across the University gather in our classroom to make this oral leap, honing their skills through short presentations, exploring rhetorical principles and techniques, and providing constructive feedback to each other. In this mutually supportive environment, I have watched graduate students overcome their inhibitions, marshal their ideas with greater rigor, and convey their passion for their subjects. It is exciting to join them on this journey, which is as much a learning opportunity for me and my colleagues as it is for them.

Graduate students will shape our society in ways we cannot imagine today.  What a privilege it is to sharpen one of the tools that will help them do so!"



Princeton Writes Staff Testimonial

Black and white photo of Stephanie Whetstone smiling

Stephanie Whetstone
Assistant Director, Princeton Writes

"John Weeren’s vision to create Princeton Writes has had a wonderful impact on the Princeton community. He has a keen eye for editing, an ear for language, and a heart for helping others. It is difficult to walk across campus with John when you’re in a hurry, for the best of reasons: people are constantly stopping him to say thanks for his help and guidance. I can add myself to their number. John is a pleasure to work with!"







University Colleague Testimonial


Amy L. Pszczolkowski
Assistant Dean for Professional Development

"When John and I met five years ago to talk about an initiative to support graduate students' public speaking skills, I never would have imagined that GradSpeak would still be supporting graduate students and postdocs in developing their oral communication skills. Over 200 graduate students have participated over the years and gained confidence and skill in presenting. John has been a wonderful campus partner and has allowed us to sustain a program with regular offerings. As Princeton Writes expanded, John was very happy to consider opportunities to further support graduate student’s professional development through the University Administrative Fellows program. Last spring with, Cate Mahoney as their first fellow, they launched a symposium on the written and spoken word, which was a tremendous event!"






Graduate Student Testimonial

Cate headshot

Cate Mahoney
Princeton Writes

"John has taught me many things in the time I've worked with him, including how to write a tactful yet warm email, and has introduced me to many people in the University that I'm so glad to know. I've learned about speechwriting from him, and what it's like to engage in that kind of creative partnership. He's also become a good friend, and I'm grateful to the UAF program for introducing us. He is a resource for all grad students, and I hope others connect with him as well."