Classical Yale

To the Editor:

I am not in favor of following Harvard by changing the title of the college master (“Harvard Replaces ‘House Master’”, Feb. 25). But if a change is to be made, it should certainly not be in the direction of some bland administrative title like “head.” I propose we adopt the term “princeps.” The word is associated with Augustan Rome and conveys both the dignity and princely authority of the office. Its Latin origin should be linguistically inoffensive to anyone.

As a backup, I suggest the Hebrew term “nabi,” meaning prophet or leader.  It would nicely connect to Yale’s Hebrew motto “Urim v’ Thummim.”

Steven Smith is Alfred Cowles professor of government & philosophy. He is a former master of Branford College.