Fred Hargadon, Princeton’s dean of admission for 15 years and such a dominant figure in college admissions that he was known as the “dean of admission deans,” died Jan. 15. He was 80 and lived in Princeton.
Renowned for the personal attention he gave each application, “Dean Fred” welcomed successful students with an acceptance letter beginning: “Yes!” In his honor, the word was carved into a stone at the entrance of Hargadon Hall in Whitman College. The strong relationships he built with students, especially with athletes, continued during their time on campus; he was an honorary member of several classes and gave the Baccalaureate address just before he retired in 2003.
“It was extraordinary how many students he kept in touch with,” said former president Harold Shapiro *64, who hired the tall and often rumpled Hargadon in 1988. “For many students, he is the person they remember the most from Princeton.”
Hargadon’s tenure at Princeton spanned a period of change and increasing competition in college admissions. When he began, after five years heading admissions at Swarthmore and 15 years at Stanford, about 16 percent of applicants were accepted to Princeton each year. When he left, the admission rate was about 10 percent. He also was a strong supporter of early-decision admission over early action.