Worth David, who served as the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University from 1972 – 1992, has died. When he assumed leadership of Yale’s admissions office, the task before him was significant: to diversify Yale’s student body. For generations, Yale had been plucking students from the same batch of boarding schools and graduating the same sorts of students. You know…the ones with initials before their first names and Roman numerals after their last names. But David was charged with blazing a new path forward “For God, for Country, and for Yale” (as they say in New Haven, at least). He would help usher in the change he wished to see reflected in the Yale student body.
As Fred Mamoun reports for Yale News in a recent obituary, “David came into office soon after the tumultuous 1965-1969 tenure of Inslee (Inky) Clark ’57, who had been asked by President Brewster to bring to Yale a more diverse cohort: students with strong academic credentials from a greater range of schools and a wider range of family income. David devoted himself to this mission, including expanding the admissions process to admit more applicants from underrepresented groups — and he managed to win over alumni who were unsettled by the changes with his measure and tact. He brought the office into the modern age, restructuring and hiring new and younger staff, reaching out to a broad range of constituencies, and making the transition to a different admissions process less dramatic to minimize challenges to these changes. David, who had been a wrestler at Yale, looked very much like what others might have imagined a Yalie of that era to look, and came across as a fine example of the traditional Yale graduate, even as he worked to expand the definition of that term. It helped that he stayed in the background, never insisting publicly on his agenda, but working toward it quietly.”
Ivy Coach mourns the loss of this Yale admissions leader who quietly helped usher in an age of progress, of diversity. Yale University is better off because of Worth David’s enduring legacy and so too are countless Yale alumni who got to attend Yale in no small part because of the years of unheralded work of Worth David.
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