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For immediate release: March 27, 2003
Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown, (609) 258-3601, lauren@princeton.edu

Editors: Photos are available at: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/l-r/rapelye

Janet Lavin Rapelye named dean of admission at Princeton

PRINCETON, N.J. – Janet Lavin Rapelye, dean of admission at Wellesley College for the past 12 years and a highly respected national leader in the field of college admission, has been named dean of admission at Princeton University, effective July 1.

She will succeed Fred Hargadon, who is retiring after 35 years in the field, including the last 15 at Princeton. The appointment was made by the executive committee of the Board of Trustees, on the recommendation of President Shirley M. Tilghman.

"Our goal was to appoint a dean who, in the tradition of Fred Hargadon, will provide stellar leadership for Princeton’s admission process, especially as we increase the size of our undergraduate student body; who will sustain and enhance Princeton’s reputation for excellence, both in and outside the classroom; who will help us reach out broadly to exceptional students from a wide range of backgrounds and interests; and who will make important contributions to the national discussion of admission issues," Tilghman said.

"I believe that Janet Rapelye will do all of these things exceedingly well," she said. "There is no one at Princeton who plays a more central role than the dean of admission in shaping the future of this University. Janet brings outstanding personal qualities as well as distinguished professional achievement to this position, and I am delighted that she has agreed to take on these enormously important responsibilities."

Upon learning the news of Rapelye’s appointment, Hargadon said, "I consider Janet’s appointment an excellent one. She is one of the country’s most respected admission deans, and has a well-deserved reputation for her thoughtfulness, perceptiveness and good judgment. I have known her professionally for a number of years now, and I believe that she will do an exceptional job both in leading the admission office and in representing Princeton University to its many constituencies in the years ahead."

Rapelye said, "I am delighted to accept the position of dean of admission. I look forward to working with the Princeton community to attract and enroll extraordinary students who will take full advantage of the superb educational opportunities that Princeton offers and who will make important contributions to this nation and all nations in the future. It will be an honor and privilege to lead Princeton’s admission efforts in the coming years."

A 1981 graduate of Williams College, where she earned dean’s list honors as an English major and skied with the varsity (Division I) ski team, Rapelye taught high school English for a year in rural Wells River, Vt., before beginning her admission career. In 1982 she was named assistant director of admission at Williams College, where her responsibilities included oversight of international student applications. In 1985 she moved to Stanford University, where she earned a master’s degree in education and worked as a counselor in the Stanford admission office.

She became associate director of admission at Bowdoin College in 1986, with special responsibility for administering the Bowdoin Alumni Schools and Interviewing Committees and serving as liaison to the athletic office and the alumni office. She also played central roles in hiring staff, developing publications, assisting with minority recruitment and administering the office, and served as an academic adviser to freshmen and sophomores.

In 1991 she was named the dean of admission at Wellesley, one of the most academically challenging and diverse liberal arts colleges in the country. In addition to overseeing the entire admission process (first-year students, transfers and continuing education) and managing the admission office systems, operations and staff, she has served on the president’s senior staff, has staffed the trustee committee on admission and financial aid, has helped develop financial aid policy and has coordinated the 43-member board of faculty, students, staff and administrators that makes admission decisions. During her 12 years at Wellesley, applications have increased by 34 percent; the academic credentials of the entering classes have improved significantly; Wellesley has been recognized as the most diverse college outside of California with a population of 40 percent students of color and 6 percent international students; and its athletic program has earned a reputation as one of the strongest Division III programs in the country.

The author of more than a dozen articles and professional presentations on admission topics and an active participant in national and regional organizations of admission counselors, Rapelye has served as a trustee of the College Board and has chaired its New England Regional Council. She also has served as a trustee of her high school, the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Mass., and as a member of its executive committee.

Rapelye’s husband, Peter, has been a history teacher and administrator for more than 25 years at the secondary school and middle school levels, and is currently head of the Upper School at Dedham Country Day School. He holds a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

Rapelye’s selection culminated a search process that began last fall. A search committee composed of six faculty members, four administrators, three undergraduates and chaired by Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel recommended three finalists to President Tilghman. The finalists also were interviewed by several members of the Board of Trustees.

Malkiel said, "In her application letter, Janet suggested that we are in a period that requires knowledge, leadership, creativity, flexibility, analysis and perspicacity in selective college admission. I believe she will bring all of these qualities, and more, to the position of dean of admission at Princeton. While Fred Hargadon is a tough act to follow, I am confident that years from now we will be saying the same thing about Janet. I have great confidence that she will not only sustain Princeton’s distinctive strengths, but build on them, especially as we make the transition, beginning in 2006, to entering classes 11 percent larger than the classes we are admitting now. I look forward very much to welcoming the Rapelyes to the Princeton community this summer and to working closely with Janet in the years ahead."