Shaw awaits new challenges at Stanford

After 13 years as Yale’s dean of admissions and financial aid, Richard Shaw has left to serve at the helm of Stanford University’s admissions office starting this Thursday.

Yale President Richard Levin has appointed a seven-member committee comprised of faculty members and administrators and chaired by Yale College Dean Peter Salovey to undertake the search process for a new dean. The committee is currently in the process of evaluating potential candidates from within the University but will begin a nationwide search if it is unable to fill the position with an internal candidate, Levin said in the wake of Shaw’s July departure announcement.

Until a new dean is named, Margit Dahl ’75, a 30-year veteran of the Yale admissions office, will serve as acting dean. The committee has not yet made any recommendations or decisions as to who will assume the deanship, Salovey said, and there is no deadline to name a new dean.

“During the period of [Shaw's] work, our statistics improved dramatically,” Levin said. “Our applications almost doubled, our yield went up … but perhaps more importantly, we extended need-blind financial aid to international students.”

Shaw said he had an “extraordinary experience” at Yale, but was looking forward to his new post both because it would allow him to be closer to his family — Shaw’s wife is pursuing a graduate degree in Arizona, where his daughters are enrolling in school — and because he was eager to tackle new challenges.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to take on new experiences in a new part of the country,” Shaw said. “Certainly to be closer to my family is important, but I also think the honor of being offered a position at Stanford is a major factor as well.”

Under Shaw’s watch, admission to Yale became more competitive — last year, the acceptance rate hit a 9.7 percent record low and the number of accepted students who chose to matriculate rose to just over 70 percent, producing one of the highest yield rates in the University’s history. Applications to Yale also surged during Shaw’s tenure at Yale, increasing from about 12,900 to around 19,500 over the past six years.

The University has also become more racially and socio-economically diverse during the period. The Class of 2009 is the most racially diverse class in nearly a decade, with 32.8 percent of students in the class identifying themselves as students of color. And last spring, the University eliminated the parental contribution portion of financial aid for students from families earning under $45,000 and reduced it for parents earning between $45,000 and $60,000.

During Shaw’s deanship, the University also switched from early decision to single-choice early action and expanded its need-blind admissions policy to international students, with international applications nearly doubling over the past five years.

Admissions and financial aid experts said Shaw’s decision to assume the same position at a competing institution is fairly normal, although such a move does not occur frequently.

“I wouldn’t say it’s unusual,” said David Hawkins, director of public policy for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “In terms of moving from one institution to another, if Richard felt like it was time for change, it certainly seems like a logical move to make.”

Associate Executive Director for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Barmak Nassirian expressed similar sentiments.

“The two schools are very similar insofar as admission is concerned,” Nassirian said. “Therefore it makes perfect sense that the one would look to the dean of the other and hit the ground running.”

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