Blackburn to retire as UVA Dean of Admissions

After nearly a quarter-century of acting as the gatekeeper to high school seniors hoping to matriculate to the University of Viriginia, Dean of Admissions John Blackburn announced yesterday that he will retire in June 2009.

"I'll be 67 next summer," he tells the Hook. "I think it's time for new blood, and change has always been good for the university."

Blackburn came to Charlottesville in 1979, when then-Dean of Admissions John Casteen hired him. He ascended to the top of the admissions department in 1985 and hasn't left, making him UVA's longest-serving admissions dean.

During his tenure, Blackburn has overseen Mr. Jefferson's University achieve greater racial, gender, and socioeconomic balance in its undergraduate population, and steadily climb up the U.S. News & World Report rankings of colleges and universities, perennially duking it out with the University of California at Berkeley for the title of top public university in the country.

"It's up to 18,000 applications a year now and now we're competing not just for the best students in Virginia, but also for the best students from around the country, and around the world," says Blackburn. "As it's gotten more competitive, what's stayed the same is that if we present the university as it truly is, those students who come here love it."