Our Worthy Gatekeeper
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 10:10
As college admissions reach dizzying levels of competitiveness, it is heartening to hear University President John J. DeGioia call Georgetown’s Office of Admissions the most ethical in the country — for good reason. In an interview last week with The Hoya, Charles Deacon, dean of undergraduate admissions for the past four decades, spoke candidly on the admissions process at Georgetown: where it’s headed, where it has excelled and what could improve.
Under Deacon, Georgetown transformed from a small, Catholic university to an elite national university. With this new standing, however, comes greater pressure to compromise on institutional values in order to stay competitive. There are a variety of rankings-minded maneuvers in vogue among colleges, including the practice of expanding applicant pools solely to deflate admission rates or the use of an early decision option to inflate yield rates.
In this environment, ensuring a fair admissions process that brings in a passionate, qualified and diverse student body is critical. And according to Deacon, Georgetown’s ability to do so is furthered by not succumbing to the practices that would help us climb higher on the U.S. News & World Report rankings. He rejects the merit of switching over to the Common Application because it could bloat our applicant pool with uninterested students. For Deacon, the benefit of potentially attracting a student away from an Ivy is not worth the cost of waitlisting a qualified student with a genuine desire to attend Georgetown.
Deacon is admirably committed to diversifying the student body — a trend seen across the nation as higher education pushes to institute financial aid and need-blind admissions programs. The George Washington University, which has a similarly modest endowment to Georgetown’s, came under fire recently for misleading prospective students about its status as a need-blind school. The GWU Office of Undergraduate Admissions admitted last week that a student’s financial standing is taken into account after the first round of selections.
It would be naive to assume this type of fraud is not also present at some of our peer institutions or that Georgetown’s Office of Admissions is faultless. But, despite facing similar constraints to GWU’s, all signs suggest that Georgetown scrupulously conducts need-blind admissions and meets full demonstrated financial need.
An admissions office has remarkable influence over the character of a university. Insofar as that’s true at Georgetown, we are lucky to have Charles Deacon at the helm.