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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Undergrad applications for class of ‘13 drop 14 percent

Published: February 6, 2009
Section: Front Page

Undergraduate applications are down 14 percent this year despite plans for the first-year class of 2013 to include 75 more students than previous first-year classes, Dean of Admissions Gil Villanueva said.

Villanueva, who said that Brandeis is not the only university experiencing a drop in applications, attributed the drop to the national recession.

“Early analysis indicates the drop came largely from applicants with lower SAT scores,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is a correlation between lower test scores and socio-economic status. It appears that we have lost some lower income to middle income applicants.”

Villanueva said that recent media attention to Brandeis’ financial problems since the Board of Trustees authorized the closing of the Rose Art Museum did not affect the number of applicants since the authorization was announced after the Jan. 15 application deadline.

However, he said that he is nervous about how the recent press attention will affect enrollment in the fall, saying that while he is certain it will have some effect, “only time will tell” how large or small that effect is.

“It’s unfortunate that overnight Brandeis has become the media darling, and it’s unfortunate that the media has spun stories that are not reflective of the institution’s intentions,” Villanueva said. “But in admissions, perception is reality.”

He also added that the Brandeis administration is “bright” and that “we are not interested in releasing art work when the current art market dictates a 57 cents per dollar value on art.”

Villanueva went on to say that the university is fortunate that the media attention around the school has happened at a time when students have already applied and are focusing on finishing high school.

He added, however, that the Admissions office is expecting an influx of prospective students visiting the campus over the week of President’s day.

“I genuinely hope that Brandeis will have some positive news to tell them by that time,” he said.

Villanueva did mention that he is slightly comforted by the administration’s recent decision to hire Rasky Baerlein, a local Public Relations firm, to help them better deal with the recent media attention.

“Given the steady influx of less than positive stories about Brandeis, doing something to help ourselves is better than not doing anything,” he said.

He also added that it is up to every member of the Brandeis community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni to help combat the negative media attention.

“I remain optimistic that we will continue to be a target institution for many bright students,” he said.