April 13, 2023
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT THIS ISSUE?
For the past five decades, those in the Princeton University Admission Office have made a concerted effort to diversify the entering classes. While the emphasis on the diversification process initially was slow, significant progress has been made over the years. For example, In the Class of 2026, women outnumbered men by 52% to 48%. Around 40 percent of those who were offered admission are people of color. That included Asians, African Americans, LatinX students, Native Americans, international students, and transfer students. Stated another way, the progress the University made with respect to diversity may have been slow but it was certainly steady.
As Dean of Admission from 1978-1983, I readily acknowledge that in continuing to support the diversity initiative, I made decisions to admit candidates who could bring something special to the University without threatening those whose academic goal was to be selected for Phi Beta Kappa. For example, we admitted some young men and women who attended schools where the SAT average of their senior class might have been 150 points below the average SAT scores of the entering class at Princeton. Those applying from schools with marginal academic standards might have expressed a desire on their application forms to major in engineering or go through the rigors of becoming a pre-med. Right or wrong, I admitted a few students whose academic preparation was less than stellar. While they had strengths that would be appreciated and respected in Princeton’s residential community, I intuitively knew that some would struggle to handle the workload expected of those in engineering or doing what was necessary to prepare for a career in medicine.
Although I resigned in 1983, I have nonetheless remained interested in how the composition of various classes has changed over the years. As mentioned previously, one of the most significant changes is the fact that women now outnumber men by 52% to 48%. In addition, racial diversity is significantly greater today than was the case in the 1980s. Also, Princeton is now increasing the number of admits who are transfer students, veterans, and international students. Should there be any doubt, I remain an advocate of the aforementioned initiatives.
That being said, I also feel obligated to acknowledge that I am concerned about the recent initiative that has resulted in 17% of the entering class being composed of “First Generation…