Quinlan to take on admissions

Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan will replace Jeffrey Brenzel as the dean of admissions at Yale.
Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan will replace Jeffrey Brenzel as the dean of admissions at Yale. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

Last weekend, Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan was in Singapore, introducing admitted students to the campus they will call home starting in August. A 20-hour flight later, Quinlan — the future dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale — was back in New Haven to participate in Bulldog Days on Monday morning.

Having simultaneously served as both dean of admissions and financial aid at Yale-NUS and deputy dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale for the past two years, Quinlan is used to flying to and from the Southeast Asian island on short notice. But Quinlan, who will officially succeed current Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel on July 1, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to focus on Yale despite feeling “bittersweet” about leaving the new liberal arts college. Though Quinlan said he is planning to use the experience he gained at Yale-NUS to re-evaluate several elements of Yale’s Admissions Office, he said he will proceed carefully because of the vast differences between the two institutions.

“Being the dean of admissions at Yale-NUS has been an exercise in forward and flexible thinking — an exercise in having to anticipate what’s coming up next, and not being afraid to change some elements of the Yale admissions process to adapt them to a Southeast Asian reality,” Quinlan said. “Throughout the University, there is a sense that Yale’s leadership, faculty and staff can capitalize on new energy and enthusiasm and use it as opportunity to build relationships, re-evaluate priorities, take a fresh look at old practices, [and] my time at Yale-NUS has prepared me for this.”

Quinlan said he hopes to reinforce the Undergraduate Admissions Office’s role in global conversations about college admissions as institutions redefine the meaning of diversity in their admissions processes and discussions about the rising costs of higher education grow louder.

Once he assumes his new post, he will also examine the relationship between the Undergraduate Admissions Office and the admissions offices of Yale’s professional schools, he said, adding that the Undergraduate Admissions Office might have to change how it presents the Yale College experience as President-elect Peter Salovey plans to bring the College closer to the rest of Yale’s schools.

Brenzel said Quinlan’s enthusiasm for the University has been a valuable asset to the Admissions Office, adding he has been a “key factor” in most of Brenzel’s accomplishments.

“[Quinlan] is equally capable at addressing national issues as addressing the host of institutional and management issues that will always face an admissions dean here,” Brenzel said.

Quinlan — who worked as a tour guide as a Yale undergraduate and was offered a position as an assistant director at the Undergraduate Admissions Office immediately upon graduation — said he thinks the opportunity to navigate the admissions processes of both Yale and Yale-NUS simultaneously while preserving the unique elements of each has prepared him to lead the Undergraduate Admissions Office during a time of shifting leadership at the University and in New Haven. Quinlan’s colleagues at the Undergraduate Admissions Office see him as “both an insider and an outsider,” he said, adding that his experiences working in both New Haven and Singapore have allowed him to discern which elements of each school’s admissions process are transferable and which are not.

“I do think my appointment [as dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale] is a testament to the close relationship between Yale and Yale-NUS, and to how valued the progress of Yale-NUS is at Yale,” Quinlan said. “But I think that Yale-NUS will definitely stand on its own once it opens.”

Both Yale-NUS Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn and Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis commended Quinlan’s ability to create and manage the Yale-NUS admissions team and said he will remain a part of the Singaporean liberal arts college as an informal adviser. Bailyn said the admissions processes of the two schools will remain completely independent despite Quinlan’s new position, adding that he does not think Quinlan’s new role at Yale will significantly impact Yale-NUS.

But some members of the Yale community have expressed concern about the implications of Quinlan’s new position, in particular because this year’s applicants to Yale had the option to automatically send their application materials to Yale-NUS free of charge. Political science lecturer Jim Sleeper, a noted critic of the Singaporean venture, said Quinlan’s involvement with Yale-NUS complicates the relationship between the two schools.

“Quinlan ascends to his new post in a cloud because all applicants to Yale College this year were offered the option to apply simultaneously to Yale-NUS without having to give any reasons,” Sleeper said in an email. “Was this designed to make Yale-NUS look more competitive? What does that say about Yale College’s integrity?”

Quinlan graduated with honors from Yale with a bachelor’s in history in 2003.

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