Penn’s vice dean and director of admissions will leave the University at the end of the year to become the dean of admissions and associate vice president at Hamilton College starting next January.
Hamilton College announced on Nov. 4 that John McLaughlin, who has served as Penn's vice dean and director of admissions since 2018, will join the liberal arts college as dean of admission and associate vice president, effective Jan. 3. Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions Whitney Soule wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian that she is working with the vice deans of Penn Admissions on a plan for when to fill McLaughlin’s vacancy.
“It’s hard to imagine Penn and Penn Admissions without John McLaughlin, who is known for his deep love of Penn and his thoughtful, expert approach to the work of admissions,” Soule wrote.
McLaughlin, a 2005 College graduate, oversaw some of Penn’s largest application pools during his eight years at Penn Admissions. He served as interim dean of admissions during the Class of 2025 cycle, the largest pool of applications in Penn’s history. The 56,000 received applications were a 34% increase from the previous year's applicant pool.
He first began working with the admissions office during his time as an undergraduate student at Penn.
“I’ve worked with so many talented people at Penn, and I have some relationships that stretch back to my time as a tour guide and student worker in the admissions office,” McLaughlin wrote to the DP.
McLaughlin assumed the role of interim dean of admissions beginning in January 2021 after the departure of the former Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. He served in this capacity until Soule was named dean of admissions in July 2021.
McLaughlin wrote that his goals as interim dean were to “first, do no harm, and second, try and leave things a little better than I found it.”
This past year, McLaughlin oversaw the Class of 2026 cycle of admissions, which received 55,000 applications and was the first cycle in recent memory when Penn Admissions declined to immediately share the regular decision acceptance rate.
“I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to reduce barriers to access," McLaughlin wrote. "Penn is far more diverse now, on many dimensions, than it was when I was a student in the early 2000s."
In his position as vice dean and director of admissions, McLaughlin helped create a group in Penn Admissions that used experimental and data analytics to understand and improve the admissions process at Penn, according to a 2020 statement from former President Amy Gutmann and former Provost Wendell Pritchett announcing McLaughlin’s appointment as interim dean.
When asked what he will miss most about Penn, McLaughlin wrote that he will miss his colleagues: “It’s a uniquely dedicated and diverse group of people, and I’ve enjoyed working with and learning from everyone. I feel that I’m leaving Penn Admissions in a strong position, and I owe much of that to the guidance and support of my colleagues.”
“Penn will always be a special place for me. My connection to this place persists beyond my professional relationship,” McLaughlin wrote. “Wherever life takes me, I’ll still raise a toast to dear old Penn.”