Directors of the office
|James Libby Tryon
|1920-1926, Assistant to the Registrar; 1929-1930, Admissions Officer; 1930-1936, Director
|Brainerd Alden Thresher
|Roland B. Greeley
|Peter H. Richardson
|Michael C. Behnke
|1997, Interim Director; 1998-2007, Dean of Admissions
|2007-2008, Interim Director; 2008-2016, Dean of Admissions
2015-2016, Interim Executive Director of Student Financial Services
2016- , Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Admissions Office is responsible for recruiting undergraduate students, reviewing applications for admission, making offers of acceptance to students, and processing applications for entrance to the Institute. The office assists with admissions applications from graduate students for MIT departments, which act on graduate applications.
The Admissions Office was formally created in 1929 with the appointment of an admissions officer, James Libby Tryon. Tryon was a special lecturer on international law in the Division of General Studies. He concurrently held the position of assistant registrar from 1920 to 1926 and performed all of the duties of an admissions officer.
The objective of the admissions officer was to increase the pool of qualified applicants to the Institute. President Samuel Stratton established the Faculty Publicity Committee in 1925. Representatives were sent to various New England and surrounding high schools to lecture and answer questions about MIT, technical education, and the profession of engineering. In 1929 the newly appointed admissions officer and members of the faculty continued to visit secondary and preparatory schools, as well as colleges and universities, to recruit students and to make contacts with counselors and administrators. In 1930 Tryon was promoted to director of admissions and the Institute president attributed a subsequent boost in enrollment applications to these visits by Tryon and other faculty. In that same year, President Compton appointed a number of graduates as Honorary Secretaries of MIT to assist in recruitment. Dr. Tryon became responsible for the long-distance tours of colleges and universities, Technology Clubs, and preparatory and high schools, as well as the eventual editor of the bulletins describing the visits. He also held the posts of vice chairman and secretary of the Faculty Publicity Committee (later named the Secondary School Publicity Committee).
In 1935 the Committee on Admissions made entrance requirements more flexible, in keeping with the requirements of other technical schools. In May 1936 the faculty voted to set the size of the entering class at 575 to 600 students, in accordance with the recommendation of an ad hoc Committee on Stabilization of Enrollment. The Committee on Admissions was authorized to select the best-qualified applicants up to that number.
Tryon retired in 1936 and was succeeded by Professor Brainerd Alden Thresher of the Department of Economics and Social Science. By 1939 first year applications had reached the unprecedented number of 1,621, which permitted the admissions office to fully utilize the selective plan and markedly improve the all-around quality of the student body. In 1951 the Honorary Secretaries were reorganized as the Educational Council, which continues to operate today (2010) in collaboration with the Admissions Office. Thresher retired in 1961. The Admissions Office reports to the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (as of 2010).
For many decades, the Admissions Office was located along the Infinite Corridor; as early as the 1930-1931 Bulletin, prospective applicants petition for admission to the Institute were directed to Dr. Tryon at the Information Office in room 10-100. Over the decades, as the Admissions Office grew, and absorbed the administration of the Educational Council, the complex of rooms expanded to include 3-108, 3-111, 3-103, 3-007, and 3-007. However, by the 2010s, more space was desperately needed to house an expanding staff, and to provide for the more than 50,000 prospective students/families visiting the campus every year for information sessions and tours with no dedicated presentation space and an already-crowded Corridor. Thus, after several years of planning, in the summer of 2021 the entire Admissions Office relocated to the second floor of the newly renovated E38 in Kendall Square, immediately above the new Welcome Center and its dedicated 200+ person auditorium, and across from the new Museum, to better provide visitors with information about MIT’s past, present, and future.
Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
July 2000; updated 2008, 2010, 2021