With barely a week on the job, newly appointed Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel ’75 appears calm — but his unhurried demeanor belies the pressure he has faced trying to juggle his new position with the work he has had to take care of since leaving his old post at the Association of Yale Alumni.
“It boils down to that it’s been like I have had two jobs,” Brenzel said. “There has not been a profound opportunity for reflection yet.”
Since Brenzel, who served as the AYA’s executive director for eight years, assumed his new post last Monday, he said he has not only been adjusting to the world of admissions, but also taking care of loose ends at the AYA.
Brenzel said he does not expect to push for any major changes to Yale’s admissions and financial aid policies this year and will instead focus on educating himself about the intricacies of the admissions process — this is Brenzel’s first foray into the field of admissions.
“Honestly, the admissions process is extremely complex and competitive,” Brenzel said. “I’ve already been doing a lot of reading about admissions and financial aid to become as familiar as possible with this job.”
Financial aid will likely be a major issue for Brenzel as he takes over the position as dean, said David Hawkins, the director of public policy at the National Association of College Admission Counseling. Last spring, the University eliminated the parent contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000. The Admissions Office is also trying to step up efforts to recruit students from lower-income areas with its new Student Ambassadors Program.
“The biggest topic this year is going to be Yale’s continued commitment to serving disadvantaged students,” Hawkins said. “Folks will look to him as that process of implementing the new policy begins.”
But, in line with his modus operandi for the entire job, Brenzel said he is going to be cautious when dealing with the issue of financial aid.
“It’s complicated,” he said. “The piece of it that would concern the admissions dean is, ‘What effect is this having on who applies and who accepts Yale’s offer?'”
Brenzel said he will look into possible areas for improvement in Yale’s financial aid policy next year, once he has settled into his new position.
“We’ll ask the organizational, practical and logistical questions as we look at if the people in the office are spending their time as efficiently as possible,” he said. “Then we’ll also look at if this process is working: what kind of class are we accepting?”
This week, Brenzel will continue to work on a new technological project that will allow officers to read students’ applications online. Brenzel also met individually with all of the members on his 37-person staff this week.
Margit Dahl ’75, who served as interim dean of admissions after former Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw departed for Stanford this summer, said that Brenzel, who taught philosophy in the Directed Studies program, brings an analytic outlook and fresh perspective to the position.
“I appreciate his reflective and philosophical nature,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The fact that he comes as an outsider both to the office and to admissions means that he isn’t wedded to the way we’ve done things and I have no doubt he’ll make suggestions for positive changes.”