Contact Us

Office Location

First Year Experience
Suite B53
Lightsey Center Lower Level
Charleston, SC 29424

Information for Contacting Us

STUDENTS: if you have questions about courses, registration, or holds, please email us from your official CofC student email at and include your CWID Student ID number. Email:
  • Department Staff - Director

    Jen Wright, Ph.D.
    Director of the First-Year Experience
    Office: Lightsey Lower Level, Room B55

    Jen Cole Wright is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the First Year Experience. As director of this vibrant program, she recruits talented faculty to teach First Year Seminars and Learning Communities. In addition to the development and scheduling of these courses, she helps to develop faculty professional development programs to facilitate campus conversations about teaching and learning in the first year and beyond. She is a strong believer in the transformative value of studying abroad and facilitates optional one-credit spring break trips for freshmen.

    Jen teaches introductory courses in psychology and lifespan development, but her passion lies in courses on the psychology of human conflict and social change—teaching courses like Psychology of War and Conflict, Psychology of Oppression, Resistance, and Regeneration, and Psychology of Social Change. She has been teaching in the First Year Experience program since 2009, teaching both seminars and learning communities with other faculty across campus. She has been a faculty fellow in both the Honors Department and the Center for Sustainable Development. And she serves as a thesis advisor for graduate students in the MS in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and MES/MPA dual program, as well as the faculty advisor for on-campus student groups like the Vegan Club, Sustainable Fashion, the Charleston Area Justice Ministries CofC student group, the Stone Soup Collective, and the Human Rights Alliance. And for over a decade, Wright has also led College of Charleston summer study abroad programs to Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as Rwanda and Uganda.

    Jen received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wyoming, doing most of her undergraduate work at Bennington College and the University of Colorado, Boulder. She specializes in moral psychology, studying the development and function of virtue (with a particular focus on humility), and the ways children, adolescents, and adults navigate the moral domain, including how the process and react to moral differences and disagreement. She has published over fifty articles and four books, including A Psychological Perspective on Folk Moral Objectivism (2023, Routledge Press), Understanding Virtue: Theory and Measurement (2020, Oxford Press), an edited volumes on Humility (2019, Oxford Press), and Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology (2014, Bloomsbury Publishing). Of particular interest to Wright is how people understand the nature and function of morality and how they use it to shape, control, and protect collective well-being and individual autonomy, balancing between promoting a diversity of beliefs, values, and practices, while discouraging (and prohibiting) those beliefs, values, and practices that cause harm.

    Off campus, Jen helps direct a local non-profit seeking to raise awareness about climate change and environmental injustice, building towards a climate resilient and equitable future for the Lowcountry, and mentors other fledgling organizations in the social and environmental justice sphere.

  • Department Staff - Associate Director

    Susan Richard
    Associate Director of the First-Year Experience
    Office: Lightsey Lower Level, Room B64

  • Department Staff - Faculty Fellow
    Nick Principe
    FYE Faculty Fellow
    Office: Lightsey Lower Level, Room B57
    Nick Principe

    While most of Nick's high school friends were off to college after graduation, he still had no idea what he wanted to do with my life at 17 years old. No one in his family had earned a college degree up to that point and it didn’t seem like he was going to become the first. While working full-time in the service industry, Nick took some college courses, first a couple of classes at a community college in Maryland, then several at UNC – Chapel Hill, where I thought I would major in Biology. When he discovered fishing, he began looking into becoming a fisheries biologist. It seemed like a great way to be on the water, serve the public, and earn a living at the same time. So, he enrolled at NCSU in Raleigh, NC as a full-time student, while also working full-time as a hair stylist (that’s a story for another day). By the time he earned my B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, with a minor in Environmental Science, he was 31 years old. It was a long road, but he was hyper-focused on my career path and graduated summa cum laude. Nick kept the ball rolling by earning my M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from Cornell University.

    With my daughter just 3 years old, we moved to a suburb of Philadelphia, but unfortunately, there were no fisheries biologist jobs to be had within the region. While working as a biometrician at an NGO, he decided to teach evening biology labs at Ursinus College, a nearby liberal arts college of around 1,700 students. It was a key turning point in Nick's life because he knew immediately that teaching was his calling. He earned a full-time Instructor position in the Biology Department at Ursinus, which meant teaching multiple labs, while also being the lab coordinator for both Evolution and Ecology lab and Cell Biology lab. Later, he created and taught a Biology of Fishes course and had several research students working with me on DNA barcoding techniques for identifying mislabeled seafood. Then, in his 10th and final year at Ursinus, he taught The Common Intellectual Experience (CIE100), a required course for all incoming freshman. In that course, they talked about big-picture questions such as, “What does it mean to be human?” and “What is my place in the world?” while reading ancient texts, like Gilgamesh and The Allegory of the Cave. The experience was fantastic, and he recognized immediately how impactful a course could be when it is dedicated to an incoming class of freshman, who like he was when coming out of high school, may not have any idea what they want to do with their lives.

    That same foundation of a strong liberal arts education that he fell in love with at Ursinus, is right here at The College of Charleston. Nick began as an adjunct at CofC in 2017 after moving to the Charleston area, teaching Intro to Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENVT200). Nick soon submitted a course proposal for the First Year Experience (FYE) Program and was thrilled when it was approved. The course was called, “Fish, Fisheries, and Food for the Future” and it was incredibly fulfilling because not only was he was able to ask some of those same core questions as he did in CIE100 at Ursinus, but now, he was able to do so through a course of my own design in a subject for which he was very passionate.

    Fast forward to 2023, and Nick is now in his 13th consecutive semester at CofC, teaching full-time loads that include ENVT200, Special Topics courses in ENSS, and my second FYE course, “Connecting with Nature in the Modern World.” Our FYE Program is incredibly unique, having both a synthesis seminar taught by dedicated CofC students and a wide selection of unique courses taught by talented CofC faculty. He is a strong advocate for our FYE Program, and excited to be the first FYE Faculty Fellow at CofC. Nick looks forward to working with our first-year students, faculty, and peer facilitators to find ways to improve the overall FYE experience and to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.