'Fred Fest' celebrates dean of admission

by Evelyn Tu
Dean of Admission Fred Hargadon was a reluctant guest at his own fest. After frequent requests from Nancy Weiss Malkiel, dean of the college, he finally agreed to attend "Fred Fest," a celebration held Tuesday, May 6, honoring him before his retirement in June.

"I kept telling Nancy that I'd sleep on it, but then I couldn't sleep because I was receiving so many late-night e-mails," Hargadon quipped.

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Approximately 250 students, faculty and staff members turned out for the celebration, which was held under a white tent on the Frist Campus Center south lawn. It was playfully named "Fred Fest" after the Fristfest that was held in the same location this past weekend.

Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman launched the ceremony, calling Hargadon "the person who is probably the most responsible for people being here today." She also remarked on Hargadon's consistent attendance at sporting, cultural and academic functions on campus.

During Hargadon's 15 years at Princeton, prospective students sent in 207,900 applications and 17,400 were admitted. Malkiel credited him with having an "uncanny sense for ... picking the students who will make the most difference as they go out into the world."

She presented Hargadon with a volume of letters from 750 students and alumni who came to Princeton during his tenure. "Fred reads more voraciously than anyone I know," Malkiel said, "so I think I've found something that he could not have read first."

Students representing varsity athletics teams, performing arts groups and the Undergraduate Student Government chimed in with praise for Hargadon's supportive presence. As a thank you, he was given lifetime passes to attend athletic competitions on campus and student performances at the Frist theater and Theatre Intime.

Senior Cameron Atkinson, a running back on the football team and captain of the track and field team, said he was grateful to Hargadon for attending so many competitions and for giving him the chance to attend Princeton. "With your simple 'Yes!' you've given us the opportunity to have the richest and fullest education in the world," Atkinson said.

Hargadon has been more than an observer on campus. He has taken part in performances in which the Triangle Club poked fun at the admission process. Members of the club coaxed Hargadon into reprising his role for Tuesday's fest.

Hargadon struggled to control his emotions while he expressed gratitude of his own. "It's been a task which, while very responsible, has also been a real privilege," he told the crowd. "I can't think of a more interesting job than the one I've had all these years."

The student a capella group Tigertones led the crowd in singing "Old Nassau" and a traditional cheer with the appropriate ending for the day: "Dean Fred! Dean Fred! Dean Fred!"

In March, Janet Lavin Rapelye was named to succeed Hargadon as dean of admission, beginning July 1. She has been dean of admission at Wellesley College for the past 12 years.


Sophomore Virginia Pourakis (right), vice president of the Triangle Club, coaxes Dean of Admission Fred Hargadon to join an impromptu performance at "Fred Fest."

photo: Denise Applewhite