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Letters from alumni about the new dean of admission, Janet Lavin Rapelye

April 26, 2003

Re: New Dean of Admissions

If Princeton is so keen on diversity, how come all the senior administrators are women?

Sounds like "all genders are equal, but some genders are more equal than others," to coin a phrase.

John Brittain '59
Lewistown, Pa.

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April 28, 2003

Janet Lavin Rapelye, the new dean of admission, has impeccable academic credentials and an obvious commitment to college admissions. On the other hand, it is a quantum leap from a lengthy tenure at Bowdoin and Wellesley to a large coed university with a rich tradition of academic excellence and competitive athletics, fueled by strong alumni support. Added to this heritage is an increasing and healthy diversity seeded by recent changes in financial aid policies.

I have no doubt that Dean Rapelye, assisted by the faculty if need be, can digest Princeton's 15,000 applications and select the brightest minds. Division I athletes, men and women, will be more challenging given the new "seven-week rule" and her lack of experience in this arena.

With regard to student body composition, PAW notes that she has worked hard to help Wellesley to shake off its "white gloves and pearls" image, increasing minority enrollment to 40 percent. The suggestion is made that she will bring the same principles to Princeton admissions.

I only hope that Dean Rapelye will recognize and not forsake the strengths that have made Princeton a great university. I would remind her of the divisive decisions which characterized the admission department in the years immediately following the lengthy tenure of the legendary Dean Bill Edwards '36. They were marked by attempts to reshape radically and rapidly the face of the university. Rather, I would urge the new dean to study the successes of Dean Fred Hargadon and build on them. He leaves a giant footprint on the Princeton landscape.

Thomas W. Newsome '63
Dallas, Tex..

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April 16, 2003

The appointment of yet another high-level female administrator to the University staff may represent a major concern. On that issue I reserve judgment. Where I no longer can restrain opinion is the appointment of yet another non-Princetonian to head the Admissions Office.

The fact that Ms. Rapelye may be a "national leader" is irrelevant. She may bring "outstanding personal qualities as well as distinguished professional achievement to this position" as well, but she has no ties to Princeton's  tradition, her faculty, or her alumni. 

Princeton is in a very real sense a private club. What private club's membership committee is directed by strangers? The appointment was onerous and ill-advised (c.f., West College Sonnets) The choice places President Tilghman's judgment as well as her ability to lead this University in very serious doubt, indeed.

Ron Innerfeld ’67
Brookeville, Md.


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