Whitney Soule has been named vice provost and dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1. The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett.
Soule is currently senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin College.
She has three decades of experience in admissions at highly selective institutions, including 13 years at Bowdoin.
“Given the uniquely important role that the dean of admissions plays at Penn, we co-led this search ourselves,” Gutmann and Pritchett said in a statement. “In our numerous discussions with Whitney, it became very clear that her vision and philosophy for admissions—along with her proven track record as a leader—will perfectly position Penn to carry forward our Penn Compact vision of ever-increasing inclusion, innovation and impact.”
“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 said.
During her tenure at Bowdoin, the college’s diversity and selectivity have grown. Her leadership resulted in increasing numbers of students of color, first-generation students, and students on financial aid alongside a decreasing admit rate and a growing admit-to-matriculant yield rate.
Soule demonstrated a strong commitment to innovation and an eagerness to lead team-based efforts to rethink and improve the recruitment and selection process to better serve students and families while simultaneously advancing institutional priorities and the academic mission.
“By harnessing the latest research on decision-making and implicit bias,” Pritchett said, “she oversaw development and implementation of new evaluation tools to ensure that all applicants—regardless of their backgrounds or personal circumstances—have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to succeed on campus. She also supported efforts to redesign work processes in the admissions office to increase efficiency and better harness the efforts and talents of the admissions staff.”
Soule is a leader with a passion for influencing and steering national discussions about college admissions and the role of higher education in driving societal progress, especially as colleges and universities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting effects. At Bowdoin, she joined with colleagues to create a unique collaboration with other highly selective liberal arts colleges that improved the ability of students, families and counselors to learn more about the opportunities available at these types of institutions.
“The admissions team at Penn has a reputation for creative approaches to building talented and diverse classes each year,” Soule said. “For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of admissions work is the matchmaking between applicant and school and doing so with systems that are responsive and supportive both for the students and for the institution. Penn's commitment to excellence, access, inclusion, and innovation, and the dedication to these values in Penn admissions, is a natural fit, and I am excited to join Penn this summer.”
Soule has chaired the executive admission committee of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, is a member of the College Board Enrollment Leaders Group and is a board member of both the Coalition for College and the Enrollment Management Association.
She began her career in college admissions at her alma mater, Bates College, where she rose through the ranks and served as associate dean and director of transfer admissions. During an 11-year tenure at Connecticut College, she directed transfer admissions and also oversaw admissions information and systems, including serving as the admission lead for that institution’s implementation of new student information systems. She moved to Bowdoin in 2008 where she worked as director of admissions and dean of admissions and student aid until she became senior vice president in 2020. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Bates, Soule also holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Gutmann and Pritchett praised John McLaughlin’s service as interim dean of admissions since Eric Furda’s departure on Dec. 31. “We thank John for his exemplary work and his love of Penn and look forward to his continued contributions to our campus community in the years to come,” they said.
“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 said. “We have every confidence that she will thrive in this role and will quickly become a vital member of and integral contributor to our Penn community.”