Retiring after three decades in admissions, Karl Furstenberg says he didn't set out to pursue a career in the field. "It just grew on me," he recalls. "I like the problem-solving aspect, and the whole process of recruiting and selecting a class is an enormously complex and interesting activity."
Furstenberg, at Dartmouth for the past 17 years, was a student at Wesleyan at the height of the Vietnam War. He joined the U.S. Navy and spent a couple of years on the high seas before deciding to enroll in Harvard Business School, still not entirely sure of what he wanted to do. "But I'd always been interested in education," he says. "At business school, I met faculty who studied nonprofits and higher education, and that cemented my leanings towards university administration."
After business school, Furstenberg went back to his alma mater to work in student and academic affairs. He was asked to become Wesleyan's dean of admissions in 1977, came to Dartmouth in 1990 as director of admissions, and was named dean of admissions and financial aid in 1992.
"As I look back, the value I placed on a liberal arts education, my commitment to academic excellence and diversity, the experience counseling students in a dean's office, and a broad M.B.A. were all good preparation for this work." Furstenberg describes admissions as the place where many institutional values come together. "Those values," he says, "are expressed as aspirations and open-ended questions: what kinds of students does Dartmouth seek to enroll and what impact might they have on the learning environment and the world beyond?" At the same time Furstenberg believes strongly that the admissions process must be as fair as possible, adhering to the highest standards of integrity.
The skills he has brought to bear on building the Dartmouth admissions and financial aid infrastructure, combined with his steadfast support for the College's commitment to need-blind financial aid, and to eliminating loans for low-income students and their families is a legacy "that we are all grateful for," according to Provost Barry Scherr. "He has made enormous contributions to Dartmouth. During his time here, we have admitted classes that are ever more talented and diverse, while our financial aid packages are among the very best in the country." In 1998, Furstenberg took on the responsibility of associate provost for planning, where he served as an adviser to the provost and oversaw the reestablishment of Dartmouth's Office of Institutional Research.
Noting that over the past 17 years Furstenberg had overseen the admission of some 18,000 students, President James Wright says, "Their legacy inside and outside the classroom is also his legacy. He has contributed significantly to the strength of Dartmouth, and I am deeply grateful for all he has done to enhance our admissions processes and to extend our financial aid support."
Furstenberg, and his wife, Charlotte, are staying in the Upper Valley at their old farm in Lyme, and look forward to enjoying the Dartmouth community in new ways.
By KELLY SEAMAN
Furstenberg's Legacy Since 1990:
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Last Updated: 5/30/08