Penn has appointed Whitney Soule, the current senior vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Bowdoin College, as its next vice provost and dean of admissions.
Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced in an email to the University community on Feb. 9 that Soule will assume her new position on July 1, 2021. Soule has worked in higher education for about 30 years, including 13 years at Bowdoin College.
Gutmann and Pritchett, who co-led the search themselves, highlighted Soule's leadership in increasing the number of students of color, first-generation students, and students on financial aid, alongside a decreasing admit rate and a rising admit-to-matriculant yield rate during her time at Bowdoin.
"Whitney shares our strong belief — proven true in Penn’s growing strength and continued success — that excellence and diversity in higher education are inextricably linked," Gutmann and Pritchett wrote.
At Bowdoin, Soule added an optional video response to the application to provide additional insight into each applicant and their experiences. She has also continued to advocate for the use of test-optional admission practices, which have been in place at Bowdoin since 1969, to make the admissions process more accessible to underrepresented populations.
Soule’s appointment comes after a six-month process to identify and recruit a new dean of admissions, in which Gutmann and Pritchett worked with an Advisory Committee comprised of University Trustees, faculty, and students, according to the email.
The search process for a new dean of admissions began after former Dean of Admissions and 1987 College graduate Eric Furda announced he would be leaving the Admissions Office on June 18, 2020. After Furda officially departed from his role on Dec. 31, 2020, Vice Dean and Director of Admissions John McLaughlin assumed the role of interim dean of admissions and will serve in that capacity until July 1.
Soule graduated from Bates College and earned her master's degree from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She began her work in higher education at Bates in 1991 where she served as associate dean and director of transfer admissions for six years. She then worked at Connecticut College for 11 years, directing transfer admissions and overseeing admissions information and systems, before moving to Bowdoin in 2008 and eventually becoming senior vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid in 2016.
She has served as chair of the executive admission committee of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, is a member of the College Board Enrollment Leaders Group, and serves as a board member of both the Coalition for College and the Enrollment Management Association.
McLaughlin has overseen the admissions process of over 56,000 applications for the Class of 2025, the most the University has ever seen and a 34% increase from last year's applicant pool. The large applicant pool is set to result in Penn's lowest-ever acceptance rate, according to Penn Admissions.
As a result of the influx of applications across the eight schools, the Ivy League postponed its coordinated decision release date to April 6. Students will have until May 3 to declare their enrollment, a two-day extension from the traditional May 1 deadline.
"Whitney Soule is extraordinarily well prepared and well positioned to lead Penn Admissions during an exciting moment in Penn’s history and during a uniquely challenging moment for our nation and our world," Gutmann and Pritchett wrote. "We have every confidence that she will thrive in this role and will quickly become a vital member of and an integral contributor to our Penn community.